United Way of Ocean County names a new leader

United Way of Ocean County names a new leader
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 06/2/07

The new executive director of the United Way of Ocean County said people struggle with many of the same hardships in Ocean County that she has seen in refugee camps across Africa, Asia and the Balkans.

Anu Gupta, 39, of Belmar said she saw homelessness and domestic violence in Africa while she worked as a senior program director for the United Nations. Those are “the same issues faced here in Ocean County. They are in our back yard, whether we like it or not,” Gupta said during a recent interview at the United Way of Ocean County’s headquarters in Toms River.

Gupta was named executive director of the nonprofit organization in May.

Before that, she was the director of development at the School of Social Work at Rutgers University. She also was the director of International Philanthropic Development and Public Policy at Sesame Workshop and spent eight years overseeing community development programs in health, employment and poverty as a diplomat with the United Nations.

The United Way of Ocean County, with a mission to “improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community,” raises about $1.5 million per year from donors such as small businesses, Gupta said.

“Ocean County has been very generous to us,” she said.

But still, she said, that money is “not enough to meet the critical needs of the community.”

More than 50 human services agencies rely on funding from the group, Gupta said. “When they (donors) give to the United Way, they are investing in the community,” she said.

Those agencies, such as Catholic Charities, the Girl Scouts and Dottie’s House, offer services such as providing emergency food and shelter, overcoming disease and disability, strengthening families and neighborhoods, caring for the elderly, investing in youth and helping the working poor, according to United Way.

The “priority is just continue to build partnerships that would provide maximum results,” Gupta said.

The organization Ocean Community Economic Action Now Inc, or OCEAN INC., has received funding from the United Way for programs related to dental health, literacy and child care, said Theodore Gooding, the nonprofit’s president and CEO. Gooding also is a board member of the United Way.

“What they do is very important to helping the families of Ocean County reach some level of self sufficiency,” Gooding said.

Karen Bart, the administrative director of Dottie’s House, a long-term transitional-housing program for survivors of domestic violence, said Gupta “seems very enthusiastic and personable.”

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