The week before Thanksgiving, Darien and New Canaan will face off once again to see which town can capture the title of “Most Generous Town” by raising the most funds for either The Community Fund of Darien or the New Canaan Community Foundation. This year, the competition begins on Thursday, November 18th and ends at midnight on Thanksgiving. Donors can contribute to The Community Fund of Darien by texting DARIEN to 203-871-0808 during this time window or by visiting www.communityfunddarien.org. The winning town will own the “Turkey Trophy” and bragging rights for the year, and their residents will take pride in the knowledge that their community makes charitable giving a priority. After winning the inaugural competition in 2017, Darien was edged out by a slim margin in 2018 but regained the prized title in 2019. Both organizations benefited from the rivalry, collectively raising more than $300,000 in 2019 to support local nonprofits.
Inspired by Giving Tuesday, the post-Thanksgiving global day of giving that kicks off the holiday charity season, the two organizations created the event as a way to use their residents’ competitive spirit to benefit our neighbors in need. This much-needed financial support addresses critical local needs such as homelessness, hunger, mental and physical health, substance abuse, youth services and more.
“Taking a cue from the Blue Wave - Rams rivalry, The Community Fund of Darien and The New Canaan Community Foundation decided to create our own friendly contest to change our neighbors’ lives for the better,” noted Janet King, Executive Director for The Community Fund of Darien. “By turning a sports competition into a giving competition, our entire community will benefit from our residents’ generosity.”
#TCFDarien #DarienCT #MostGenerousTown #BlueWave
Thanks to its community investments in many local nonprofit organizations, The Community Fund of Darien (TCF) has strong ties to those who need volunteer help - and that list is growing. This month, TCF is launching The Volunteer Hub, a complimentary service to Darien residents interested in finding just the right local volunteer opportunity. Individuals contact TCF’s Volunteer Hub Hosts, and those “volunteers for volunteering” will personally guide participants to the organizations which best match their skill set and areas of interest. Due to the most agencies’ strict age requirements for volunteers, the service is geared to individuals preferably ages 14 and up.
Potential volunteers will call The Volunteer Hub at The Community Fund of Darien at 203-202-2098 or complete a confidential Volunteer Interest form online at www.communityfunddarien.org/volunteer-interest-form. One of TCF’s Volunteer Hub Hosts, Jessica Brokaw Cahill or Celeste Marsh, will respond within 24 hours for a personal one-on-one conversation to better understand the individual's interests, which may take place in person or via telephone. From there, the Host will make an introduction to the volunteer manager at the organization which suits the applicant best. Volunteer Hub Hosts will follow up within one week and again in one month to make sure that volunteer and agency relationships work for all parties.
“We’ve heard from Darien residents that they wanted to be more involved in our community and didn't know how to get started,” explained Janet King, Executive Director of The Community Fund of Darien. “Since TCF has such extensive knowledge of local nonprofits, we want to use this expertise to create a personalized matchmaking service for Darien residents to find their dream volunteer position and support these organizations with their skills.”
Quotes from Nonprofit Partners
“The Darien Community Association (DCA) relies on volunteers to fulfill our nearly 100-year-old mission. We are excited to participate in The Community Fund of Darien’s new Volunteer Hub. We think it’s a win-win for both nonprofit organizations seeking volunteers, and people in the community who are looking for a way to give back.” Amy M. Bell, Executive Director of the Darien Community Association
“Volunteer Hub is the missing link! Norwalk Community Health Center is a high impact local nonprofit with a new, under-the-radar, volunteer program. Our volunteers are key to wellness initiatives that complement our core services. Without a dedicated volunteer coordinator, there isn’t always time to make those connections. We’re excited to have Volunteer Hub in our corner, bringing the right people together with the right causes.” -- Betty Cordellos, Director of Development and Communications for Norwalk Community Health Center.
Gentlemen, channel your inner lumberjack and join The Community Fund of Darien for a men’s charity night of axe throwing on Thursday, November 4th from 6:30-8:30pm at the Mather Homestead, located at 19 Stephen Mather Road, Darien! First timers welcome -- a trained axe master will walk you through the throwing technique, and lanes are safely gated off.
The evening includes Two Roads Brewery beer provided by Sipstirs, a Litchfield Distillery Bourbon tasting, nibbles from The Butcher Shop, and a few other surprises. Limited tickets ($60) are available at www.communityfunddarien.org; all proceeds benefit 30 local nonprofits addressing community needs such as hunger, homelessness, mental health, domestic violence, and gaps in education.
The Community Fund of Darien was recently awarded $125,000 per year for the next 5 years by the federal Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Grant, managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The funding will support programming from The Thriving Youth Task Force (TYTF), Darien’s volunteer coalition that convenes local community organizations to promote and empower positive youth development, with the goal of reducing teen substance use.
The DFC Grant funding will allow the Thriving Youth Task Force to:
Created in 1997, the Drug-Free Communities Grant funds community-based coalitions such as Darien’s Thriving Youth Task Force that engage multiple sectors of the community to prevent youth substance use. The twelve sectors represented by TYTF members are youth, parents, businesses, media, school, youth-serving organizations, law enforcement, religious/fraternal organizations, civic and volunteer organizations, healthcare professionals and local government. This membership diversity helps coalitions connect their communities’ resources to each other and adopt a balanced and comprehensive approach to reducing substance use.
“We are thrilled to have secure funding for the next five years to continue the Thriving Youth Task Force’s work targeting teen substance use prevention and education,” said Janet King, Executive Director of The Community Fund of Darien. “The DFC Grant gives us a fantastic opportunity to further engage our community to work together towards this goal.”
Thriving Youth Program Director Emily Larkin added, “This work is especially timely in light of the state’s recent marijuana legalization. The Thriving Youth Task Force’s programs will provide parents with critical information about how marijuana impacts the teen brain and strategies for keeping open lines of communication with their teen around all substance use.”
Fun & Fitness Returned to Pear Tree Point Beach @ The Community Fund of Darien's Road Race Presented by Mirador
Nearly 300 participants representing towns from Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York gathered on a picture-perfect day at Pear Tree Point in Darien on Sunday morning for the 41st running of The Community Fund of Darien’s “Darien Road Race.” The 1.5 mile Fun Run and 5 mile race, presented by Mirador, raised funds to benefit The Community Fund of Darien’s nonprofit partners who provide social services, programs and initiatives to youth in Darien, Norwalk, and Stamford.
Patrick Dooley of Stamford was the first person to cross the 5 mile finish line of the 41st annual Darien Road Race on Sunday, with a time of 26:47. Patrick said that his first Darien Road Race was a lot of fun, both for him and young daughter Andrea, who enjoyed the face painting and other family activities. “It was a good course, a little hilly but nice and shaded in sections,” he added.
Darien’s Kerri McNicholas was the first woman to finish the five-mile race with a time of 34:41. She was joined by her husband, who pushed their 1 year old son in his jogging stroller. It was her second Darien Road Race, and her son’s first. “He fell asleep a half mile in,” she laughed.
The winners of the 1.5-mile Fun Run were Darien’s Liam Kelly, age 11, with a time of 10:41 and Eric Ciocca of Northampton, MA , age 43, with a time of 10:42.
Liam credits Eric, who he met at the race, with his first place finish. “Without him, I wouldn’t have won,” he said. “It’s always better running with someone that’s better than you; you have to push yourself a lot more.”
Eric had similar praise for his fellow runner, adding that Liam inspired him to give a little more than he would have at his first Darien Road Race. Eric is part of the “Run 169 Towns Society,” a group of runners who aspire to run a race in every town in the state of Connecticut. The Darien Road Race checked off the 131st town on his list.
Darien Road Race 2021 Results
Non-runners also enjoyed the family-friendly morning, which featured energizing music throughout the event from DJ Eric Shoji, a silent auction, and activities such as face painting, cornhole and temporary tattoos at sponsor tables under “The Finish Line” tent.
Dance on the DL’s Linda Cicero, Taylor Shoji and the DL Crew warmed up the enthusiastic crowd with a pre-run stretch to kick off the morning’s events. Their team of students, The DL Crew, traded their dance footwear for running shoes to take part in the fun run, raising $1,175 to benefit youth in our community.
Kathy Cronin, who coordinated Team Mirador’s 13 runners and 15 volunteers, noted that the race was a great opportunity for the financial services firm to reinforce camaraderie among its employees. “Team Mirador had a great time training together for the Darien Road Race after their workday,” Cronin noted. “Many of our employees live in the area, and they were excited to give back to the community and either run or volunteer on race day.” In addition to the company’s sponsorship, Team Mirador’s fundraising efforts for the race raised an additional $3,505 for youth programs and services in the community.
The race was made possible by local business sponsors and many wonderful volunteers, including presenting sponsor Mirador. This year’s Platinum Sponsor is Newport Academy. Gold Sponsors are Nuvance Health, Ring’s End, Hollow Tree Self Storage and the Darien Boat Club. Silver Sponsors include Bankwell, Baywater Properties, BMW of Darien, Darien Running Company, DR Bank, Hutchinson Tree Care Specialists, M&T Bank, Office Suites of Darien, Palmer’s Market, Patch Organics, Performance Optimal Health, The Residence at Selleck’s Woods, Sasco River Center, Tooher-Ferraris Insurance Group and Trinity Church. Atria Senior Living, Sheree Frank/Houlihan Lawrence, and Land Rover Darien are Bronze Sponsors. Generous in-kind donation provided by Darien Disposal Service. Special thanks to Team Mirador, the DL Crew and People’s United Darien for forming fundraising teams to benefit youth programs and initiatives.
The Community Fund of Darien’s 41st annual Darien Road Race is scheduled for Sunday, September 19th, 2021, at Pear Tree Point Beach. This year’s race will begin at 9:00 am for the 1.5-mile Fun Run and 9:45 am for the 5-mile race. The race will feature “The Finish Line” tent with music, games, sponsor booths, raffle items and an awards ceremony.
The Community Fund of Darien’s signature event, The Darien Road Race, welcomes Mirador LLC as the Presenting Sponsor for the event. The race brings together families, athletes, and adults young and old to celebrate the spirit of our community and supports our neighbors. The event has raised more than $1.1 million over the years to benefit our neighbors with critical needs in Stamford, Norwalk, and Darien. All proceeds from the race will be allocated to local nonprofits and community initiatives that support youth programs and services. The Community Fund’s community investments target basic needs, community health, youth success and workforce development. Community initiatives include the Thriving Youth Task Force. The Human Service Planning Council (HSPC) and the Touch-a-Life program.
To learn more about the local nonprofits who will benefit from the event proceeds, please visit www.communityfunddarien.org. Race registration is now open. For questions or more information, please email email@example.com or keep up with the latest news on Instagram and Facebook @communityfunddarien.
The Community Fund of Darien (TCF) hosted its Community Investment Award celebration on July 14th to recognize its local nonprofit beneficiaries and to show appreciation to the many investment review volunteers who donated their time and expertise to make a real difference in our community. Thanks to the generous support of its donors, this year The Community Fund of Darien (TCF) is awarding $570,000 in community investment grants to 31 nonprofit organizations in Darien, Norwalk and Stamford that focus on basic needs, community health, youth success and workforce development. In addition, TCF’s Youth Community Fund high school service group allocated $14,500 to 12 nonprofits they selected and reviewed while learning about philanthropy and the role of nonprofits in our area. The event was held at the Darien Community Association.
TCF community investment grants were awarded to the following local agencies: Abilis, AmeriCares Free Clinics, Boys & Girls Club of Stamford, Building One Community, Carver Community Center, Child Guidance Center of Mid-Fairfield County, Child Guidance Center of So. CT, Children’s Learning Centers, Depot Youth Center, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Domus, Family & Children’s Agency, Family Centers, Filling in the Blanks, Food Rescue US, Future 5, Horizons at NCCS, Inspirica, Kids in Crisis, Laurel House, Liberations Programs, New Covenant Center, Open Doors, Pacific House, Person-to-Person, Rowan Center, Senior Nutrition/Catholic Charities, SilverSource, Stamford Public Education Fund, STAR, Lighting the Way and Women’s Mentoring Network.
The TCF Youth Community Fund organized three fundraisers this year that raised nearly $4,000, and an allocation from TCF along with donations restricted to the YCF made up the balance of their $14,500 investment pool, the largest amount in YCF’s 11-year history. YCF students prioritized the needs of food insecurity and homelessness that were heightened during the pandemic and directed funding to 12 nonprofits serving Norwalk and Stamford: Filling in the Blanks, Inspirica, Food Rescue US, New Covenant Center, Open Doors, Building One Community, Children’s Learning Centers, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Person to Person, Kids in Crisis, Liberation Programs, and the Carver Community Center.
TCF’s Community Investment process:
In fall 2020, TCF’s Community Investment Committee implemented changes to its investment process to open it to a greater number of nonprofits and to learn more about potential new agencies that could benefit from TCF funding. To qualify for a grant, all eligible local nonprofit organizations first submitted a letter of inquiry to TCF in the fall; likely candidates were then invited to complete a full, detailed application due in January.
Eight panels of TCF-trained community investment volunteers (58 total) enhanced the organization’s thorough due diligence by reviewing the applications, then researching and evaluating the large grant candidates before presenting their funding recommendations. The process ensures that donors’ contributions are responsibly invested where they are most needed, for the greatest effectiveness and maximum impact, and have a measurable impact and sustainable benefit. By investing in effective programs and organizations that promote equity and provide long-term support for all local residents, TCF strengthens our whole community.
The community investment review process runs from approximately March 1 through May 1st. Each group meets around six times, including 2-3 site visits, with an estimated total time commitment of 15-20 hours. The volunteers gained a better understanding of the needs of our local community; those interested in serving next year or learning more should contact Lisa Haas, TCF Community Investment Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through its Youth Community Fund, TCF empowers more than 50 high school students to learn the value of philanthropy at their meetings through discussions with local nonprofit leaders and by volunteering at various organizations. YCF runs its own student community investment review panel, where the members select local organizations to apply for a grant. In small groups, they review the grant applications and also conduct a site visit when possible (this year, interviews were held virtually due to COVID) to learn more about their assigned agency before presenting to the other YCF students and recommending funding amounts. As a group, they vote to determine which organizations get funding and how much to allocate.
About The Community Fund of Darien
The Community Fund of Darien’s mission is to inspire people and mobilize resources to strengthen our community. Its vision is for all community members to have the opportunity to reach their full potential as healthy, educated, and self-sufficient individuals. TCF initiates solutions, builds collaborations, and implements and supports programs to strengthen youth, adults and families for lasting and positive impact in Darien, Norwalk and Stamford. Since 1951, TCF has distributed over $20 million to local nonprofits and community initiatives, impacting thousands of lives in our community. For more information, please contact The Community Fund of Darien office at 203-655-8775 or visit the website at: www.communityfunddarien.org
Thriving Youth Task Force Names Two New Members to its Executive Board:Allegra Erickson and Christina Passaretti
The Thriving Youth Task Force (TYTF) is thrilled to announce that Allegra Erickson and Christina Passaretti will join its executive board for the 2021/22 school year. Erickson will assume the role of Executive Board Co-Chair. She will succeed Shelly Skoglund, who will complete her term as Co-Chair this year. Christina Passaretti will serve as Vice-Chair, succeeding Susan Marks, who will also complete her term this year.
Erickson brings a wealth of experience to the Thriving Youth Task Force. She has served our community on the PTO executive boards of Hindley Elementary, Middlesex Middle School and Darien High School and was a board member, Youth Asset Team Adult Advisor, and Community Investment executive board member for The Community Fund of Darien. She also served as a Deacon and on the building committee at Noroton Presbyterian Church, and is currently a Darien Library Trustee. Erickson also has experience as a product engineer at General Motors, a management consultant at AT Kearney, and an admissions reader at the Yale University School of Management. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering at Vanderbilt University and her MBA and Master of Engineering degrees at Northwestern University. Erickson has lived in Darien since 2005 and is married with three children who have or are now attending Darien public schools.
Passaretti has been an active volunteer in the community since she and her husband moved to Darien 15 years ago. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the YWCA Darien/Norwalk and served on their Parent Awareness Committee and has also served on numerous school committees from her two children’s preschool days to their current school, Darien High. Passaretti also contributed to The Community Fund of Darien’s community investment review panel. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Washington and a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Boston College.
The remainder of this year’s executive board will continue to serve in 2021/22:
The Thriving Youth Task Force is eager to welcome Allegra Erickson and Christina Passaretti to their new roles and is deeply grateful to Shelly Skoglund and Susan Marks for their leadership on the board. As TYTF co-chair, Skoglund assembled the first ever TYTF Executive Board to facilitate increased member engagement and ownership. She has encouraged increased TYTF member collaboration and fostered effective community programming, and most recently has spent countless hours on TYTF’s student survey data analysis project. Skoglund will continue to serve as co-chair of the TYTF Survey Committee and on The Community Fund of Darien’s 2021-2022 Board of Directors.
Marks was a valued member of the Executive Board, bringing together her experience as a long time member of Darien's Board of Selectmen with her extensive experience as a parent volunteer in Darien school parent organizations.
The Thriving Youth Task Force, which is convened by The Community Fund of Darien, was created in 2008. The TYTF brings together leadership from the town, the public schools, parent organizations and social service organizations that work with youth and parents to identify issues affecting the youth of Darien and to develop strategies and programs to promote and empower positive youth development. Every three years, the TYTF, in partnership with the Darien Public Schools, surveys Darien 7-12th grade students about their mental health and substance use patterns, presenting results to parents and the town. The results of the 2021 survey will be shared with the community this fall. The TYTF members have also provided insight and guidance for the nationally recognized “06820” campaign to reduce binge drinking among adolescents in Darien.
The "Our Darien" campaign, created by The Community Fund of Darien in partnership with the Thriving Youth Task Force, continues its conversation about youth mental health, the dangers of substance use and how parents can best support their teens with its second virtual book group title: For All She Knows by New Canaan author Jamie Beck. Participants are invited to read at their own pace, and thought-provoking questions will be posted each week on the Our Darien Facebook page (www.facebook.com/OurDarien, click “Groups”) to enhance the reader’s experience.
A live book discussion on Thursday, May 20th at 10:00am via Zoom will feature Tracey Masella, licensed clinical social worker in affiliation with Silver Hill Hospital, who will offer her perspective on teen substance use, peer pressure and parental boundary setting. Sergeant James Palmieri of the Darien Police Department will also share his knowledge of social hosting laws and the repercussions of underage drinking. The Darien Library’s Elisabeth Marrocolla will moderate the discussion. This program is made possible with the support of The Community Fund of Darien, Barrett Bookstore, the Darien Depot, the Darien Library, Silver Hill Hospital and YWCA Parent Awareness.
Book description: Two mothers face the consequences of their choices in a gripping novel about friendship, family, and forgiveness. Grace first met Mimi when she blew into their sons’ toddler playgroup like a warm bay breeze that loosened Grace’s tight spaces. Despite differing approaches to life and parenting, the fast friends raised their kids together while cementing a sisterlike bond that neither believed could be broken. But when a string of ill-fated decisions results in a teen party with a tragic outcome for Grace’s son, the friendship is ripped apart and an already-splintered community explodes.
The book is available at the Darien Library and can also be purchased at Barrett Bookstore (mention the Our Darien Book Group for a 10% discount) and other booksellers.
The Community Fund of Darien Honors 2021 “Unsung Heroes” - A virtual celebration of our community’s outstanding volunteers
Since 1979, The Community Fund of Darien (TCF) has been recognizing individuals who have made a difference in and around our community. To mark National Volunteer Month, TCF is thrilled to announce Darien’s extraordinary volunteers so that the entire community can recognize and applaud these wonderful residents who give tirelessly of their time and talent to benefit us all.
This year’s honorees, Darien residents who have made a positive impact in and around our community, and the nonprofits they serve are:
Outstanding Adult Volunteer (19 - 64 years):
Anne-Lise Brown - Norwalk Stamford Grassroots Tennis and Education
Mia Cortellesi - The Mather Homestead Foundation
Karen Cummins - Kids in Crisis
Jill DiChiaro - Darien Book Aid
Jennifer Fallon - The Community Fund of Darien
Gina Gromelski - Darien Human Services
Jayne Jepsen - Darien Nature Center
Michele Litt - Darien Community Association
Elizabeth Mathus - Darien Land Trust
Robin Nelson - Darien Foundation
Reena Ninan - The Stamford Partnership
Christine Popson - The Depot Youth Center
Angela Riley - Darien Arts Center
Sharon Schoen - Family Centers
Shelly Skoglund - Thriving Youth Task Force
Amy Zerbe - League of Women Voters of Darien
Outstanding Emerging Volunteer (18 years and younger):
Courtney Ball - Darien Youth Commission
Eva Larino - Family and Children’s Agency
Outstanding Senior Volunteer (65 years and older):
Peter Eder - Darien Library
Mike Klehm - AARP
Marti Lanese - At Home In Darien
Ken Reiss - Museum of Darien
Outstanding Volunteer Duo:
Kathy and Peter Gogolak - Star Inc. Lighting the Way
Holly Russell and Jolanda Sutherland - Building One Community
Kimberly Servas and Susan Wilson - A Better Chance in Darien
Lisa and Chris Stout - Person-to-Person
First responders and COVID vaccinators - Town of Darien
Nominations were requested from local nonprofits, and the public was also invited to offer submissions recognizing Darien residents who have made a difference in and around our community.
“The Community Fund of Darien is proud to celebrate our community's spirit of volunteerism for individuals and projects that have made a significant difference in our community over the past year,” said Janet King, Executive Director of The Community Fund of Darien. “While we hoped to share this recognition with our honorees and their families, friends and co-volunteers in person, we are happy to announce Darien’s extraordinary volunteers ‘virtually’ so that we can all safely celebrate these wonderful residents who are so deserving of appreciation and recognition of their impact.”
The Community Fund of Darien is grateful to the Darien Community Association for graciously loaning its beautiful garden as the location for the honoree photos. Photos taken by Kyle Michael King.
The Community Fund of Darien is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Your donations are tax deductible under EIN: 06-0737286
Your donations are tax deductible under EIN: 06-0737286
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