The Community Fund of Darien (TCF) announces its new Youth Program Manager, Heather Gordon. In this newly created role, Heather will oversee and coordinate TCF’s four student youth groups. Heather is an extremely involved volunteer, having previously partnered with organizations such as Young Life, Trinity Church, Save the Children, and the YMCA. A Pepperdine University graduate and Norwalk native, Heather is also working with Noroton Presbyterian Church as their Youth Ministry Associate and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary.
Heather is excited to start this new chapter this fall with The Community Fund of Darien. When asked about her motivation to become involved with TCF, Heather responded, “In high school, my youth group was the first place I truly felt loved and accepted, which was in many ways due to my wonderful mentors. From then on, I knew my dream was to help change the world through meaningful relationships and be this role model for others.”
Janet King, The Community Fund’s Executive Director added, “Heather’s experience and genuine enthusiasm are a compliment to The Community Fund of Darien’s mission to inspire people and mobilize resources to strengthen our community. Heather will lead our youth groups to better understand local philanthropy and human service needs. We are delighted that Heather has joined our team!”
About The Community Fund of Darien Student Groups
Youth Community Fund
The Youth Community Fund (YCF), open to 10th-12th graders, introduces students to philanthropy and the role of nonprofits in our community. The group volunteers and evaluates local organizations and allocates money it raises to those that it deems most in need. According to Youth Community Fund member Ally Noonan, “It’s wonderful to learn how we can help our neighbors both through volunteerism and through a formal grant allocation process. The group has awarded grants over $13,500 this year.
Youth Asset Team
The Youth Asset Team (YAT) is another educational and impactful program The Community Fund of Darien offers to 10-12th graders. Students meet biweekly to discuss healthy choices, mental health, and continue to educate other teenagers and adults about substance and alcohol abuse in the community. Katie Chandler, one of the upcoming Presidents of YAT said that, “Youth Asset Team has impacted me tremendously because of the opportunities it has given me to grow as a person. The meetings are a place where students can have real conversations about issues in our community and make a difference. YAT allows students to gain confidence and leadership skills which is why it’s such an important group.” Not only does the Youth Asset Team strive to help and educate the community, it also develops students’ leadership skills throughout their time in this program.
Freshman Community Group
The Freshman Community Group is a group just for 9th grade students to help support them as they navigate the transition to high school, and serves as an introduction to the Youth Community Fund and the Youth Asset Team. The group is centered around engaging meetings with Andrew Tepper, the YAT advisor and a LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) as well as community service projects.
Youth Give Back
The Community Fund of Darien has also established the Youth Give Back program for 7th and 8th grade students. Through this program, students are able to learn about problems within the community and create solutions or ways to help. The program is also designed so that students receive hands-on experiences through visits to local shelters and organizations. Sandi Sufrin, a mother of a Youth Give Back student and a current adult advisor of the program, said that “Ideally, it’s a more personal way of giving back to our neighbors. A side effect would be to create a love of volunteering and giving back to their community.” With the many student and adult volunteers, the middle schoolers are able to learn firsthand their impact within the community as well as build relationships with students who are passionate about helping and learning to serve others.