Thanks to the generous support of its donors and proceeds from the successful “Community Dinners for a Cause” series last spring, The Community Fund of Darien (TCF) is awarding $620,000 in large grants to 24 nonprofits serving Darien, Norwalk and Stamford to fund a broad spectrum of needs including at-risk youth, homelessness prevention, food insecurity, mental illness and more. Earlier this year, TCF also awarded $14,500 in small grants and $13,500 in grants allocated by its Youth Community Fund, bringing this year’s total to $648,000 in funding for 30 local nonprofits. The $620,000 large grant funding includes $40,000 in incremental COVID-19 relief funding to some of the organizations that have been most affected by the pandemic, particularly those addressing hunger, homelessness and providing emergency assistance.
Local nonprofits receiving TCF large grants are: Abilis, Americares Free Clinics, Building One Community, Carver Center, Child Guidance of Mid Fairfield, Child Guidance of Southern CT, Children’s Learning Centers, The Depot, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Family & Children's Agency, Family Centers, Inc., Filling In the Blanks, Food Rescue US, Future Five, Inspirica, Kids In Crisis, Laurel House, Liberation Programs, New Covenant Center, Open Door Shelter, Pacific House, Person-to-Person, STAR, Lighting the Way and The Rowan Center. Small grants were given to ABC Darien, Darien YMCA, Food Rescue US, Horizons at NCCS, Norwalk ACTs, Norwalk Grassroots Tennis and Education, and Stamford Cradle to Career.
Each nonprofit that receives a grant is thoroughly vetted by TCF staff and trained local volunteers, ensuring that donor contributions are allocated where they will have the greatest benefit. Grant panels of 6-7 volunteers, composed of over 60 residents from Darien and neighboring communities, review and visit 2-3 local nonprofits each year to ensure that TCF is investing in the most effective nonprofit organizations. This past spring, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the grant review panelists conducted their research and site visits to the nonprofits virtually. Despite the changed format, the grant review volunteers were able to learn about each organization and determine the most critical needs of our community. Kate Haviland, Director of Development at Child Guidance Center of Southern CT noted, “From my own experience with TCF, it is clear that (the) team takes a thoughtful approach to really try to understand program nuances and community needs.” To learn more about volunteering as a grant panelist in the spring, an estimated 10-20 total hour commitment, please contact Grants Director Lisa Haas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The TCF grants address 12 areas of need including hunger, homelessness, substance abuse and domestic violence, mental health, early childhood education, and after-school programs. The largest amount of this year’s grant funding supports youth mental health and the greatest increase in funding since last year is directed towards programs preventing hunger (up 126%). “Our partnership with The Community Fund of Darien is so important to us,” said Shari Shapiro, Executive Director of Kids in Crisis. “There is no doubt that the TeenTalk Program will be more important than ever as our young people navigate the new normal.” TCF funds the in-school counseling support program at Norwalk and Brien McMahon High Schools.
Recent grants have provided early childhood education to more than 1,100 children in Stamford, funded a work preparation and placement program which taught skills for 389 low-income immigrant clients to earn a living wage in the first six months of the program, and funded a free clinic in Norwalk that serviced approximately 650 patients a year for approximately 2900 medical visits.
The Community Fund of Darien also encourages youth to be a part of the grant allocation process. Its Youth Community Fund (YCF), with over 60 high school students members, learns about philanthropy and the role of nonprofits in our community. Members participate in a variety of volunteer projects at different local nonprofit organizations throughout the year and raise money through different community fundraisers, such as a bake sale and a rally towel sale before the annual Turkey Bowl football game. They participate in their own grant review process to determine which nonprofits should receive funding. YCF granted this year’s allocation of $13,500 to A Better Chance Darien, Building One Community, Carver Center, Children’s Learning Centers, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Filling in the Blanks, Kids in Crisis, Inspirica, New Covenant Center, Open Door Shelter and Person-to-Person.
The Community Fund of Darien hosts 3rd “Community Dinner for a Cause” to Support Mental Health Programs
The Community Fund of Darien (TCF) invites all residents to join in the final evening of our “Community Dinner for a Cause” series on Saturday, June 20th to help improve the quality of life for our community. Proceeds from this dinner will support mental health programs. The first two dinners raised nearly $27,000 to fight food insecurity and benefit the homeless population.
Order a family meal prepared by The Darien Butcher Shop, which includes a bottle of wine and a craft beer provided by SipStirs, and The Community Fund of Darien will direct half your purchase to their local nonprofit partners providing mental health programs. TCF will provide free contact-less, doorstep delivery of your meal on Saturday, June 20th between 4-5:00pm.
The $150/per family (feeds 4-6) purchase, prepared by The Darien Butcher Shop, includes:
Orders must be placed by 5pm on Saturday, June 13th at www.communityfunddarien.org.
Enjoy on Saturday evening, or save your meal for Father's Day on Sunday! Together, we can strengthen our community.
The Thriving Youth Task Force (TYTF) is excited to announce that Georgette Harrison will assume the role of Executive Board Co-Chair for the 2020/21 school year. She has participated in TYTF since 2016, most recently as Subject Matter Expert. Harrison will succeed Sergeant James Palmieri, who will complete his term as Co-Chair this year after also serving as a member of the task force for many years and an officer on the executive board since 2019. Sergeant Palmieri will remain on the executive board as a liaison to the Darien Police Department.
Harrison brings vast research and clinical experience to the Thriving Youth Task Force. She is currently the Director of Clinical and Community Partnerships at the Child Guidance Center of Southern CT, an affiliate of Community Health Centers, Inc. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of CT and a rostered trauma-informed Child-Parent Psychotherapy clinician. Her clinical experience includes serving as the Director of Clinical Services for Integrated Wellness Group and as bilingual clinician at the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center Child and Family Guidance Clinic. She earned her Master of Arts and Master of Education degrees in Counseling Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University.
New to the Executive Board for the 2020/21 school year is Shelley Sheridan. Sheridan has lived in Darien for over 15 years and is deeply rooted in the community. As an advocate for the town of Darien and the surrounding coastal towns, she has served on various executive boards including the Council for Darien School Parents as the Community Outreach Chair, as Chair of the Tokeneke Elementary PTO, Directory Chair for the Middlesex Middle School PTO and Vice President of the Board for the Darien Nature Center. She is a local real estate agent with Houlihan Lawrence and lives in town with her husband and two children. Sheridan is passionate about the mental and physical health of our children and is excited to join the Thriving Youth Task Force.
The remainder of this year’s executive board will continue to serve in 2020/21. Shelly Skoglund will serve a second year as Co-Chair. Skoglund is a member of The Community Fund of Darien’s Board of Directors and has a long history of involvement and leadership in Darien PTOs, including chairing the Royle PTO and the Council of Darien School Parents. Susan Marks, a faithful community servant who was on the Board of Selectmen for 6 years and has volunteered in Darien for many years on school PTOs, the CDSP and many other committees, will continue to serve as the Vice-Chair. Marli Hayes, Membership and Community Outreach Manager of the YWCA Darien/Norwalk, and Janice Marzano, Director of the Youth Service Bureau for the Town of Darien and Program Director at Depot Youth Center, will serve as Co-Chairs of the Programming Committee. Finally, Emily Larkin, Thriving Youth Program Director at The Community Fund of Darien, will manage the “06820” campaign and the Connecticut Strategic Prevention Framework Coalition (CSC) Initiative grant to reduce binge drinking among teens.
The Thriving Youth Task Force is thrilled to welcome Georgette Harrison and Shelley Sheridan to their new roles and is deeply grateful to Sergeant James Palmieri for his leadership and insight as co-chair this year. His depth of experience working with the youth of Darien and the Darien Public schools is invaluable, and TYTF is thankful that he will continue on the board as a liaison between the task force and the Darien Police Department.
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 surveys Darien 7-12th grade students about their developmental assets (the building blocks of healthy development) and their involvement with risky behavior, presenting results to parents and the town. The TYTF members have provided insight and guidance for The Community Fund’s nationally recognized “06820” campaign to reduce binge drinking among adolescents in Darien.
The Community Fund of Darien (TCF) invites all residents to join in a second special evening of dining “together” at home to fund programs aimed at improving the quality of life for our community. This dinner, held on Saturday, May 30th, will benefit the homeless population and homelessness prevention efforts. The first event, held on May 9th, raised nearly $17,000 to fight food insecurity.
Order a family meal provided by Palmer’s Catering, which includes a bottle of wine provided by SipStirs, and The Community Fund of Darien will direct half your purchase to their local nonprofit partners providing stop-gap services and immediate assistance to our most vulnerable neighbors. TCF will provide free doorstep delivery of your meal on Saturday, May 30th from 3:45-5pm.
The $150/per family purchase includes:
Orders must be placed by 5pm on Wednesday, May 27th at www.communityfunddarien.org.
Stay social and host a virtual dinner party with friends, family and neighbors for a worthy cause! Together, we can make a difference.
Residents Invited to Help Local Businesses by Providing Cloth Masks for Employees
Due to the coronavirus health crisis, our current reality calls for wearing masks in public places and when not able to appropriately distance ourselves from others. This places a burden on local organizations and businesses, as their employees are required to wear masks at all times in order to operate and serve the community.
Several members of Darien’s Human Services Planning Council, which is convened by The Community Fund of Darien, stepped forward to create the Darien Mask Brigade, where individuals and groups may "adopt" a local business/organization and support their work by providing cloth masks for their employees. Masks can be homemade or purchased.
How Does It Work?
Join the movement!
Feed your family, fill your heart!
The Community Fund of Darien (TCF) invites all residents to join in a special evening of dining “together” at home to fight food insecurity on Saturday, May 9th.
Order a family meal provided by Michael Joseph’s Fine Foods, which includes a bottle of wine provided by SipStirs, for contactless pickup and The Community Fund of Darien will direct half your purchase to their local nonprofit partners who support soup kitchens, food pantries and meal delivery services to our neighbors in need.
The $150/per family purchase includes:
Orders must be placed by 5pm on Wednesday, May 6th at www.communityfunddarien.org. Contactless pickup will take place from 4 - 5pm on Saturday, May 9th at The Community Fund of Darien, Office Suites of Darien, 30 Old Kings Highway South, Darien.
Together, we can make a difference!
A virtual celebration of our community’s outstanding volunteers!
Since the coronavirus health crisis thwarted plans to honor Darien’s extraordinary volunteers in person at the planned April 30th event, The Community Fund of Darien (TCF) is continuing its 40+ year tradition virtually. 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):
Julie Best - Tokeneke PTO
Cathy Butcher - Building One Community
Sean Calvillo - The Darien Foundation
Thomas Davidson - Kids in Crisis
Gordon Devens - Person to Person
Ashley Mayhew Dineen - The Tiny Miracles Foundation
AJ Discala - STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way
Andrea Jackson - Darien Arts Center
Kate Larson - Darien Historical Society
Sarah Lippman - Mather Homestead
Carolina McGoey - Darien High School Parents Association
Mara Neafsey - The Community Fund of Darien
Melissa Ryan - At Home in Darien
John Schrenker - Darien YMCA
Michael Sgroe - Darien Land Trust
Doug Wilson - Blue Wave Booster Club
Outstanding Emerging Volunteer (18 years and younger):
Campbell McEvoy - Norwalk Stamford Grassroots Tennis and Education
Outstanding Senior Volunteer (65 years and older):
Judi Linskey - Darien Community Association
Jane Marrone - The Carver Foundation of Norwalk
Michael Wheeler - Family Centers, Inc.
Outstanding Volunteer Duo:
Erica Jensen and Corrie Belardinelli - Darien Chamber of Commerce
Evonne Klein and Susan Vogel - League of Women Voters of Darien
Outstanding Volunteer Team (3 or more individuals dedicated to a cause):
Chris Harwick, Todd Herget, Brett Tucker and Patrick Spellman from the Darien Junior Football League - nominated by Doug Wilson
The First Congregational Church of Darien Open Doors Shelter Team - nominated by Open Doors
Andrew Popson, Kaitlyn Popson, Nick Hoyt, Colleen Hoyt and Jack Briggs from Helping Hands - nominated by Darien Human Services
Allison Law, Christa FitzPatrick, Lauren Stissor and Katherine Grambling of the Ox Ridge Elementary School Kids Care Club - nominated by Family and Children’s Agency
“While we are disappointed that we can’t share this recognition with our honorees and their families, friends and co-volunteers in person, we did not want to miss the opportunity to acknowledge their accomplishments,” said Janet King, Executive Director of The Community Fund of Darien. “We can all use some good news right now, and we are proud to celebrate these wonderful Darien residents who tirelessly give their time and talent to benefit our local community.”
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. TCF thanks Brown Thayer Shedd and Halstead Properties for their generous support of this celebration.
Corbin Cares, The Community Fund of Darien, The Darien Foundation, and Food Rescue US to lead efforts to fund and distribute healthy and safely delivered meals
With local restaurants closed except for take-out and delivery, and financial instability looming for an increasing number in our community due to the coronavirus pandemic, several Darien businesses, nonprofits and town agencies have created a solution to address food insecurity for residents of Darien and of surrounding communities in need.
The Community Fund of Darien, The Darien Foundation and Food Rescue US are joining forces with Corbin Cares, a new initiative launched by Baywater Properties and PG Properties, to fund, organize, and provide ready-to-eat, healthy and safely prepared meals from local restaurants to Darien seniors in need, residents referred by Darien’s Department of Human Services, and local nonprofits that feed the food-insecure of Fairfield County.
The project, which has the support of Darien’s Department of Public Health and the First Selectman’s Office, is expected to begin this week. Donations to Corbin Cares will be managed by The Community Fund of Darien, a 501c3, to provide tax documentation for donors. Donations will be 100% tax deductible. The funds will be disbursed to eateries including Bodega Taco Bar, Ten Twenty Post, Baldanza Bistro, Four Forks, Jake's Place and Upper Crust Bakery and Cafe. Their meals will then be transported by Food Rescue US to local social service agencies in Darien, Norwalk and Stamford that are providing for individuals and families that are food insecure. Donations of $5 will provide breakfast, $15 will buy a boxed lunch and $20 will supply a healthy dinner. Tax-deductible contributions can be made through Corbin Cares at:
David Genovese of Baywater Properties said “the incredible support for Corbin Cares received from our community, The Darien Foundation and The Community Fund of Darien demonstrate the astounding generosity of those around us. My partner, Penny Glassmeyer, and I are proud to have initiated this program, which will provide thousands of meals during this crisis for healthcare workers on the front line, as well as those experiencing food insecurity in our community-at-large.
The Darien Foundation has fast-tracked a $75,000 grant to fund Corbin Cares within Darien. The program will replace the lunches that were served at the now closed Senior Center with individually boxed lunches that will be distributed under social distance protocols. The program will also provide a robust family-style dinner each week to approximately 75 families who receive assistance from Darien’s Department of Human Services. “We have worked closely with town leadership and Corbin Cares to frame how this program could replace the lunch programs no longer available at the senior center and the public schools,” said Sarah Woodberry, the Executive Director of The Darien Foundation. “Also, our underwriting of Corbin Cares in Darien will allow the monies raised by the Corbin Cares’ intiative to stretch further throughout our neighboring communities.”
In addition to collaborating with Corbin Cares and Food Rescue US, The Community Fund of Darien will continue to provide our town’s residents in need with emergency assistance for rent, utilities, medical expenses, transportation costs and groceries through its “Touch-A-Life” fund, in cooperation with Darien’s Department of Human Services. “During this stressful and uncertain time, the silver lining is finding a way to work together as a community to get food and aid to those in need from generous neighbors who care,” noted Janet King, the organization’s Executive Director.
Darien residents in need should contact the Department of Human Services at 203-656-7328 or email Ali Ramsteck, Director, at email@example.com.
Since 1979, The Community Fund of Darien (TCF) has been recognizing individuals who have made a difference in and around our community at their annual Volunteer Recognition luncheon. This year, TCF will honor Darien’s extraordinary volunteers at an early evening event on April 30th from 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm at the Darien Community Association so that all nominees can share their recognition with their family, friends and co-volunteers. The entire community is also invited to celebrate volunteerism and those who give tirelessly of their time and talent to benefit us all. The event will be sponsored by Brown Thayer Shedd and Halstead Properties.
TCF is reaching out to the community for nominations, especially those “unsung heroes” who may not have been previously recognized for their commitment to a cause. Nominees, who must be Darien residents, will be sought for the following categories: Outstanding Emerging Volunteer (18 years and younger), Outstanding Adult Volunteer (19 - 64 years), Outstanding Senior Volunteer (65 years and older), Outstanding Volunteer Duo, Outstanding Volunteer Family, Outstanding Volunteer Team (3 or more individuals dedicated to a cause) and Outstanding New Volunteer (1 year of service or less to one organization).
Nominations are due via online submission portal on the TCF website www.communityfunddarien.org on March 31st. They will then be reviewed by The Community Fund of Darien’s volunteer recognition panel and decisions will be made by mid-April.
We are fortunate to call Darien home to so many caring volunteers who give of their time and heart. The Community Fund of Darien is proud to recognize the impact they’ve made and to celebrate the very best of our town!
I want to share a report that updates you on the local nonprofits that we support and that demonstrates the impact of The Community Fund grants awarded in July 2019. Thanks to our ongoing due diligence, which begins with the comprehensive grant review performed by our volunteer panelists, we are confident that our grants are truly making a difference in our local community. We view our grantee agencies as partners with whom we have long-standing relationships. Our learning and assessment continues year round with management visits, collaboration on collective impact groups and the receipt of progress reports every six months. The data below is based on the interim reports submitted in January.
Our $17,000 grant to Abilis helped the organization hire a new staff position, Job Developer, who works to educate employers and find job opportunities for Abilis’ clients. Since implementing this new position in September, Abilis added 5 new jobs and 4 new job sites in 4Q19. Abilis’ Employment Program currently serves 102 individuals; 62 of whom are employed in competitive jobs with 51 employers.
TCF’s $29,000 grant to Americares resulted in the delivery of medical services valued at more than $133,000. Low-income families and individuals are much more likely to pay first for immediate necessities such as housing, food and transportation and forgo preventive care or even treatment for chronic or acute health problems, and, as a result, are more likely to suffer from, and be hospitalized for chronic diseases. Medical debt contributes to two-thirds of bankruptcies.
Our 2019 grant to Building One Community was directed to their workforce development program which layers vocational English (VE) with targeted job skills training to prepare immigrants for higher paying jobs that are critical to immigrant integration. In 2019, 819 adult immigrant participants obtained jobs and/or received support by participating in job skills training classes, a 40% increase over 587 participants in 2018. 109 workers were placed with 149 employers overall by the hiring site in 2019.
Carver now operates 36 programs at 16 Norwalk Public Schools and several additional charter and magnet schools, and is on track to serve more than 2,500 students this school year. This past fall, Carver took over the After the Bell program, a K-5 before-and-after school program that had been administered by NPS at nine elementary schools. The program currently serves 800 students with 96 staff members. Carver is working to remove barriers to participation such as providing busing and financial assistance.
In 2H19, Child Guidance Center of Mid Fairfield County treated 460 children and adolescents (and their families) by providing mental health services. CGC continues to expand its bilingual capacity. While its bilingual/bicultural team is the largest it's ever been with four full-time clinicians, one part-time supervisor, one psychiatrist, and one bilingual family advocate, the needs of the Latino community continue to exceed capacity.
Child Guidance Center of Southern CT has recently entered into an alliance with Community Health Center, a large nonprofit CT healthcare provider that offers primary care services in medicine, dentistry, and behavioral health to more than 145,000 people. Through this affiliation, CGC SCT will have considerably higher Medicaid reimbursement rates and more access to state, foundation and corporate support. As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), rates are nearly double the rate CGC has previously received and could add $1 million in additional fee revenue for CGC’s operations. These rates, however, do not apply to their Mobile Crisis program, the program funded by The Community Fund of Darien. In 2019, CGC SCT’s Mobile Crisis responded to 246 crisis episodes, providing 438 face-to-face hours of care.
Domus has experienced many significant changes with the closing of Trailblazers, its charter middle school, and the pending closure of Stamford Academy, its charter high school. These closures were quite surprising to us and were results of a local negative sentiment towards charter schools, reduced funding from Stamford Public Schools, lower enrollment, and ongoing issues with performance and absenteeism. Domus has also closed its residential program, Domus House, and will soon no longer run the Chester Addison after-school program. Domus is now focusing its efforts on a disengaged young adult (16-24) population which it will support with their Juvenile Justice Reform and re-entry program (Invictus), Work & Learn employment program and Family Advocacy program. Last July, The Community Fund had given a reduced grant towards Domus’ Work & Learn program, but had concerns about the outcome measurements reported by Domus. Entering into FY20, TCF has elected not to fund Domus until 2021 when they have completed their new strategic plan and identified new signature programs.
In July, TCF awarded the Domestic Violence Crisis Center (DVCC) a grant for $22,000 toward SustainAbilityCT, an economic advocacy program that coaches clients to overcome hardships from financial abuses. In the six months since receipt of the grant, DVCC served 83 clients and reported that 100% of the participants demonstrated an increased understanding of financial abuse and had established a financial safety plan. 53 clients improved credit health, 20 clients obtained new employment, 20 increased wages, and 7 enrolled in a job skills training program
TCF funds the Project REWARD program at Family & Children’s Agency (FCA) to provide addiction treatment to women. Project REWARD offers transportation and on-site babysitting to reduce barriers to treatment and provides safe, on-site medication management. In the last six months of 2019, Project REWARD served 50 participants, with 63% of women being abstinent at discharge from their highest level of care, compared to a state average of 39%.
In 2019, TCF awarded Family Centers one of its largest grants ($40,000) to help support Family Centers’ School Based Health Clinics (SBHC) located at six Stamford public schools. The clinics served 1,973 students across its service areas (medical, dental, psychiatry, social work, and nutrition). Services target students who do not have access to a family doctor or whose families have little to no health insurance. In FY19, student mental health visits increased by 1,021 (44%) from the previous year, and medical visits increased by 985 (36%). 94% of students reported they changed their behaviors or learned healthy habits as a result of participating in SBHC. 20% of students reported missing less school or class time since coming to SBHC.
Inspirica is using the $33,000 grant from The Community Fund to support its Two-Generation Programming which includes its Family Housing Program, Jumpstart Career Program, Children’s Services Program and Early Childhood & Parenting Program. In FY19, Inspirica moved a total of 165 men, women and children who had been homeless into permanent housing, bringing their 9-year total to 1,477 individuals. 88% of participants placed in permanent housing remain housed after 1 month and 83% after 12 months. At the end of the last school year, 99% of the children at Inspirica graduated to the next grade level with an average grade of B-.
TCF’s grant to Kids In Crisis supports its TeenTalk programs at Norwalk High School and Brien McMahon High School. Both schools' programs are operating at maximum capacity. In the first part of the school year, September-December 2019, the TeenTalk counselors provided individual counseling to 157 students (BMHS= 113, Norwalk HS=44) over 422 sessions (BMHS= 356, Norwalk HS=66). The TeenTalk counselors made 17 referrals to higher levels of care and coordinated 68 clinical collaborations.
Last year, under the helm of a new executive leadership team, Liberation Programs requested funding from TCF to support a new Family Recovery coach model in which Liberation would provide support to family members of individuals suffering from addiction. The Family Recovery coach is a new concept in the recovery field that can help families with treatment options and ultimately lead to better outcomes. Given the newness of this model and lack of data supporting its efficacy, TCF elected to delay funding to Liberations until the Family Recovery Coach position was filled and had established a client base. Following a meeting with Liberations in January, at which time TCF met with the entire leadership team and the newly hired Family Recovery Coach, TCF began funding Liberations with a portion of their previously allotted $15,000 grant.
Open Doors is demonstrating impressive results under new Executive Director, Michele Conderino. In the six months since receiving our grant, Open Doors served 179 individuals and 12 families (including 28 children). 52% of individuals have stayed less than 60 days and 45% of individuals served have exited the shelter for permanent housing. Following some negative publicity last spring, Open Doors has implemented new annual de-escalation training for staff, developed an online training platform for staff and created a Shelter Policy Committee to review and revise agency policies. Smilow Life Center was recently visited by representatives from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development who applauded the role Smilow plays in the community.
TCF’s $27,000 grant to Person-to-Person helps provide Emergency Assistance to low- and very low-income residents of the Stamford-Norwalk area. Emergency Assistance encompasses Food Pantry, Clothing Center, Casework and Emergency Financial Assistance. In the six-month period 7/1/19 to 12/31/19, P2P served 11,571 unique individuals across all channels, provided groceries to prepare 610,932 meals, conducted 2,729 casework interviews with 392 referrals. In the same six-month period, P2P made 646 financial grants for rent, security deposits and other immediate needs to help individuals and families remain housed or otherwise help maintain family stability, with an average dollar value of $267. Since Phil (P2P’s mobile food pantry) opened in April 2018, P2P has increased the number of meals provided by more than 60% over the average number of meals provided by P2P annually from 2012-2017. This is an indication both of the success of the model and also of the depth of the need in the community.
The Community Fund of Darien’s grant helped Laurel House expand the outbound reach of its Thinking Well (Cognitive Remediation) program into local communities of Stamford and Norwalk. Thinking Well helps people living with mental health disorders improve the cognitive skills that lead to better functioning and success in the workplace, school, and the community. 50 program participants enrolled in Thinking Well during the 6 month report period (July 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019); 85% had positive functional outcomes.
The Community Fund’s grant to STAR supports its Birth to Three Early Intervention program that provides evaluations and in-home therapy for infants/toddlers impacted by intellectual/developmental disabilities including autism. The grant pays for professional therapists (additional hours not covered by state funding) to provide the intensity of services needed for children to successfully reach their goals and exceed state averages. The state funds less than 70% of program costs. In 2019, Star provided services to 306 children from Darien and surrounding towns and assisted over 390 families.
Pacific House reports that during the first half of FY20 (July 1-December 31, 2019), they served a total of 259 clients through the emergency shelter with the average stay of 49 days, a rather dramatic decline from the 66 day average in FY19. Although this decline is a positive, Pacific House does expect this average to trend upwards during the colder months. During the report period, the number of “positive exits” from the shelter was 66%, compared to 61% in FY19. With the acquisition of five new properties, Pacific House will add new 33 units of supported housing units over the next year, most of which will target “chronic” and longer-term shelter clients. This strategy essentially changes how the community organizes and provides homeless services and represents the transition from an approach focused on emergency shelter services to a proactive, sustainable strategy that will have a long term community impact.
TCF’s grant to the Rowan Center helps support their Darien outreach and education efforts. Since our grant was awarded in July, Rowan has given 145 presentations to 2,985 individuals. Specifically in Darien, Rowan has educated 321 eighth graders over 21 sessions at Middlesex Middle School with two programs, Sexual Harassment and Consent (by the end of the school year, Rowan will have presented to all 8th graders and 2 grades at Darien High School). Educators visited 107 teens at Darien Depot twice this year, with Bystander Intervention techniques and conversations about consent, and held several information sessions for 131 Darien parents. 100% of participants reported that Rowan’s programming was "very relevant"; 96 % of participants reporting an increased knowledge of consent, 94% of participants reporting feeling capable and empowered to intervene on behalf of a person in a negative or threatening situation (bystander awareness and intervention) and 98% of participants reported understanding where/how to access sexual assault and abuse resources for themselves or someone they know.
As we head into our 2020 grant season, we will again be balancing our limited funding with the high needs of our partner organizations. This year, we will include three new organizations to our funding pool. We continue to aggressively fundraise to meet our goals and hope, if you haven’t already, that you can support The Community Fund this year.
The Community Fund of Darien