In the early months of the pandemic, The Community Fund of Darien and the Darien YMCA came together to discuss a community building project and realized that many residents were spending a great deal of time at home with family, doing a lot of cooking, and having meals together. This was the inspiration for the Darien Cooks! Community Cookbook, a treasury of recipes to feed the soul, local families, and our community. Original recipe submissions for the cookbook are now being accepted until March 1st at www.communityfunddarien.org. Darien Cooks! will be available in mid-May; pre-orders are currently being taken on the website for $50 each. All proceeds will support TCF and YMCA community programs.
Darien Cooks! will feature custom artwork by Darien's resident artist extraordinaire, Nobu Miki, and her cover art will also be available as a beautiful glass cutting board available for purchase on the website for $35. Both make wonderful gifts and are sure to become a go-to source for delicious meals and a precious keepsake for years to come!
Submitted recipes must be original and should include the best time of year to serve (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter or Any Season.) The origin or a great family story about the recipe is welcome! Full details and guidelines are found on the www.communityfunddarien.org website (click “Darien Cooks!”)
The community may also contribute to the project as an underwriter; participant names will be listed in the back of the cookbook. Individual underwriting options are found by clicking the “Pre-Order Cookbook” tab on the website. Sponsorship opportunities are available for local businesses; levels and benefits can also be found on the website.
“Everyone has their favorite family recipe and what better way to build and strengthen our community than sharing our love of food. Through this cookbook and partnership with The Community Fund we’ll not only share our timeless family treasures, but we’ll also support our families, friends and neighbors.” Jennifer Gardner, Darien YMCA
“Sharing a recipe, like sharing a meal is a gift from the heart. We saw the cookbook as a means to capture this moment in time as well as to celebrate this special town. We hope this project brings people together over a common bond of a love for food, and a home cooked meal while supporting our neighbors.” – Janet King, The Community Fund of Darien
The Community Fund of Darien and the Darien YMCA hopes that through this initiative to support local community projects, residents can be a part of local history with their submission and will ultimately enjoy paging through their neighbors’ recipes to create newfound favorites for their own families.
The Community Fund of Darien and eight local partners invite students and parents to the must-see presentation “Changing the Conversation on Substance Use” with Chris Herren, celebrated former professional basketball star and wellness advocate, on Wednesday, February 10th at 7:00pm. Herren will take the audience on his journey from addiction to sobriety, sharing experiences that have impacted his life as a teenager, athlete and speaker. He will also address themes of gateway drugs, prescription drug use, vaping, the impact of COVID-19 and the responsibility of prevention starting with us all. To conclude the event, Herren will field live questions. Registration is free and required for this event at www.communityfunddarien.org.
Herren’s presentation, one of a series of events to address teen substance use and prevention from The Community Fund of Darien and the Thriving Youth Task Force’s "Our Darien" campaign, is made possible with the support of the Darien Depot, Darien Youth Commission, Silver Hill Hospital, YWCA Parent Awareness, Darien Library, Darien YMCA, Noroton Presbyterian Church and Trinity Church.
The program, recommended for students in grade 8 and above, will be moderated by John Hamilton, the president and chief executive officer of Liberation Programs. Hamilton is nationally recognized as an expert in the field of addiction treatment and prevention. Liberation Programs, one of Fairfield County’s leading behavioral health organizations, provides prevention, treatment and recovery services to help individuals and their families impacted by substance use and mental health conditions to foster hope and maintain wellness.
Herren’s last visit to Darien in 2017, when he spoke to Darien High School students during the day and to a packed auditorium of parents and others in the evening, made a lasting impression on his audience. Two of those members, Katie Chandler and Ethan Fox, are now DHS seniors in The Community Fund of Darien’s Youth Asset Team and recently appeared on Herren’s new interview series “Ask Chris” that airs on all Herren Talks social media channels. A link to the interview, a preview of the February 10th event, is available on the TCF website at www.communityfunddarien.org.
About Chris Herren:
An extraordinary basketball player, Chris Herren was a celebrated star in his native Fall River, MA before graduating high school. He went on to play at Boston College and Fresno State, two seasons in the NBA – including one with his hometown team, the Boston Celtics – and seven seasons overseas before losing it all to the disease of addiction.
With the unwavering support of his family and friends, Chris has been sober since August 1, 2008, and he now shares his story with the goal of making a positive difference in the lives of others.
His recovery journey has been documented in the bestselling memoir, “Basketball Junkie,” the Emmy-nominated ESPN Films documentary, “Unguarded” and in countless local, national and international stories by The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Sports Illustrated, among others. Through Herren Talks, Chris has spoken to over 1 million students and community members, sparking honest discussions about substance use disorder and wellness.
In 2011, Chris grew his vision of support for others when he founded the nonprofit Herren Project. Through the organization, Chris and his team empower schools and communities to make healthy choices, while also guiding families through recovery. In 2018, Chris also founded Herren Wellness, a residential health and wellness program that helps guests lead healthy, substance-free lives.
The Community Fund of Darien (TCF) is celebrating the new year with a “Community Dinner for a Cause” on Sunday, January 24th. Proceeds from the dinner, prepared by Nino’s of Darien, will benefit our local nonprofit partners and support programs focusing on youth success in our community. Orders must be placed by 5pm on Wednesday, January 20th at www.communityfunddarien.org.
Order a Nino’s family meal, which includes a bottle of wine provided by SipStirs, and The Community Fund of Darien will direct half your purchase to its local nonprofit partners who support youth success. TCF will provide free contact-less, doorstep delivery of your meal on Sunday, January 24th between 4:15-5:15pm.
The $150/per family (feeds 4-6) meal, includes:
Enjoy a delicious Sunday family dinner while helping our vulnerable neighbors with your purchase. Together, we can change lives and strengthen our community.
The "Our Darien" campaign, created by The Community Fund of Darien in partnership with the Thriving Youth Task Force, is encouraging parents to join the conversation about teen substance abuse with its first-ever virtual book group in January and a culminating live discussion via Zoom on February 3rd. The featured book is the #1 New York Times bestseller Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction by David Sheff. The book group is the first in a series of events designed to educate parents about youth mental health, the dangers of substance abuse and how they can best support their teens.
Each week of the month-long “Our Darien Book Group” will explore several chapters of the memoir, with thought-provoking questions provided by the Darien Library. The virtual group will launch on Monday, January 11th on the Our Darien Facebook page (www.facebook.com/OurDarien, click “Groups.”) Participants in the private, moderated forum are encouraged to share their thoughts and formulate questions as they read. The final live discussion Zoom event on Wednesday, February 3rd at 7:00pm will feature Frank Bartolomeo, Ph.D., LCSW from Silver Hill Hospital, who will offer his perspective on addiction, warning signs and prevention tips.
The memoir is available at the Darien Library in print and digitally and can also be purchased at Barrett Bookstore (mention the Our Darien Book Group for a 10% discount) and other booksellers. It is described by famed author Anne Lamott as “a brilliant, harrowing, heartbreaking, fascinating story, full of beautiful moments and hard-won wisdom. This book will save a lot of lives and heal a lot of hearts.”
Publisher’s description: What had happened to my beautiful boy? To our family? What did I do wrong? Those are the wrenching questions that haunted David Sheff’s journey through his son Nic’s addiction to drugs and tentative steps toward recovery. Before Nic became addicted to crystal meth, he was a charming boy, joyous and funny, a varsity athlete and honor student adored by his two younger siblings. After meth, he was a trembling wraith who lied, stole, and lived on the streets. David Sheff traces the first warning signs: the denial, the three a.m. phone calls—is it Nic? the police? the hospital? His preoccupation with Nic became an addiction in itself. But as a journalist, he instinctively researched every treatment that might save his son. And he refused to give up on Nic.
Save the date for the next event in the series: a must-see live Zoom presentation on February 10th featuring former NBA professional basketball player and addiction recovery advocate Chris Herren, who will share his experiences and his road to sobriety.
These programs are made possible with the support of The Community Fund of Darien, Barrett Bookstore, the Darien Depot, the Darien Library, Silver Hill Hospital, Trinity Church and The YWCA of Darien/Norwalk.
For the past four years, The Community Fund of Darien in collaboration with the Thriving Youth Task Force (TYTF) has educated Darien teens and adults about the dangers of teen binge drinking through the “Our Darien” social marketing campaign. This public health initiative aims to shine a spotlight on the impact of alcohol on the teen brain and to offer proven tactics towards healthier attitudes and behaviors. A growing body of research shows an ongoing parent-child dialogue about risky behaviors, combined with clear rules and consequences, equips students to make healthy choices in the short and long term. The “Our Darien” campaign is funded by a grant from the state of Connecticut’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS).
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt our daily lives, stress, worry and fear can seriously impact our mental health. The “new normal” of unemployment or working from home, virtual learning, isolation from family and friends, and other uncertainties make prioritizing mental health even more challenging. The added financial and emotional stress of the holiday season can also exacerbate an already difficult time for many, especially those living with depression or anxiety.
The Town of Darien Department of Human Services, in partnership with The Community Fund of Darien, is confronting these issues by providing resources and information for residents who are experiencing a mental health challenge or know someone who is. In addition to information and links to mental health and crisis resources featured on its Department of Human Services website (www.darienct.gov/humanservices), an informational postcard will be mailed directly to Darien residences this week. The Department of Human Services also provides a wide variety of other services, including confidential crisis intervention, assistance with mental health, substance abuse and domestic violence issues. Assessment for benefits and program eligibility, as well as emergency financial assistance, is available for any Darien resident. Please call 203-656-7328 to schedule an appointment or email email@example.com.
“The COVID-19 virus has had significant and lasting impacts on all of us,” added Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson. “We are afraid for our health and that of our loved ones. We’ve been isolated from family, friends and our faith communities and many have lost jobs. I’m deeply grateful for the work of the Darien Human Services Department in partnership with The Community Fund of Darien to support the mental well-being of our residents by connecting our community to life-saving mental health resources. Don’t wait...get help if you are struggling and share this information with others. We are here for you!”
Two New Investments Established by The Community Fund of Darien:The Norwalk Fund and The Stamford Fund
Local residents may not be aware that despite its name, only a small percentage of donations raised by The Community Fund of Darien (TCF) actually remain in Darien. Approximately 95% of the nonprofit organization’s funding in 2019-2020 served agencies in Norwalk and Stamford focused on basic needs, youth success, workforce development and community health.
To better serve its donors, The Community Fund of Darien is launching The Norwalk Fund and The Stamford Fund, which restrict contributions to investments in nonprofits serving their respective towns. Donations to each fund benefit from TCF’s 70-years of experience, knowledge, relationships, due diligence and the collective impact of donor gifts to nonprofit agencies in Norwalk or Stamford.
Each organization funded by The Community Fund of Darien is thoroughly vetted by its small staff and more than 60 trained community volunteers to ensure that donor contributions are allocated effectively with targeted impact, and recipient organizations are reviewed throughout the year for progress. By investing in effective programs and organizations that promote equity and provide long-term support for all local residents, TCF strengthens the entire community.
The Community Fund of Darien’s numerous, impactful program investments last year in Norwalk and Stamford agencies include:
“For 70 years, The Community Fund of Darien has partnered with our donors to improve the lives of residents in Norwalk, Stamford and Darien,” noted Janet King, executive director of TCF. “Establishing The Norwalk Fund and The Stamford Fund gives donors the added benefit of designating their gifts to a specific town, making a difference in their very own neighborhood.”
Just one gift to The Community Fund of Darien’s Norwalk Fund or Stamford Fund benefits multiple nonprofit organizations, including STAR, Lighting the Way, the Carver Foundation, Liberation Programs, Norwalk Grassroots Tennis and Education, Family & Children’s Agency and Kids in Crisis in Norwalk and Abilis, Building One Community, Americares, Inspirica, Laurel House and Future Five in Stamford.
Written by YCF student Margaret Williams
Stay active during the holiday season and support a great cause at the same time with the Darien Youth Community Fund’s first-ever Jingle Jog fundraiser! Run or walk as much as you can between Sunday, December 13 and Thursday, December 24 and track your mileage for sponsor pledges. The funds raised will be directed towards the Youth Community Fund (YCF) grant pool, which will ultimately be allocated towards nonprofits working to combat homelessness and hunger in lower Fairfield County.
Participants will sign up through The Community Fund of Darien’s website at www.communityfunddarien.org as either a student ($5 for youth - 18 years) or an adult ($10 for 19 years and older.) Participants will also have the option of creating a team to compete with, and will be able raise money for the YCF grant pool through sponsorships (either individual or team-wide.). Support a Jingle Jog participant over the “12 Days of Cheer” with a one time donation, or a donation per mile -- it’s up to you!
Through the course of the event, there will be a daily prize drawing (for which all registrants are eligible) including gift certificates to stores and eateries around town. At the end of the twelve days, additional prizes will be awarded to the team and the individual who has raised the most money.
The Youth Community Fund (YCF), one of The Community Fund of Darien’s four youth groups, is composed of approximately 50 high school students from Darien High School and local private schools who learn about philanthropy, local human service needs, and the role of nonprofits in our community. Members participate in a variety of volunteer projects at different local nonprofit organizations. YCF students also help to fundraise to add money to their grant pool. Students select a group of local nonprofit organizations to apply for funding and decide how to allocate approximately $12,000 in grants to the local nonprofits.
Darien Nonprofits Collaborate to Create “Mission: Positive!” - A Community Resource for Inspirational Ideas and Activities
During this time when residents are practicing social distancing and looking for fun, safe activities to keep busy and engaged, members of Darien’s Human Services Planning Council (HSPC) and the Thriving Youth Task Force (TYTF) recently brainstormed the idea of creating a shared community resource to gather residents’ favorite ideas for fun, relaxation and family time.
Introducing “Mission: Positive!” -- a curated list of pandemic-safe and entertaining family activities, holiday celebration and craft inspiration, book and playlist recommendations and much more! The Community Fund of Darien, which convenes HSPC and TYTF, will host the resource on its website (www.communityfunddarien.org under the “Community” tab.) Residents are invited to submit via the website their ideas and recommendations, which will be reviewed by a panel of volunteers to ensure that they are COVID-19 safe, socially distant, appropriate for all ages and contribute to positive youth development.
Categories include: Activities, Adventures, Family Fun, Game Night, Good Reads, Holiday Traditions, Must-See TV, New to Town, Party Ideas, Playlists and Positive Vibes.
With the holidays around the corner and many plans being reimagined due to the pandemic, families have a unique opportunity to come together and make the best of an uncertain and ever-changing situation. Mission: Positive! hopes to help inspire our community to create new traditions and memories that will last a lifetime.
Following a successful series last spring, The Community Fund of Darien (TCF) invites residents to join in the next “Community Dinner for a Cause” on Saturday, October 3rd to support programs that strengthen our community. Proceeds from this dinner will benefit
our local nonprofit partners who provide assistance to our most vulnerable neighbors. Orders must be placed by 5pm on Wednesday, September 30th at www.communityfunddarien.org.
The family meal prepared by Bodega Taco Bar also includes nut-free cookies provided by Carolyn's Absolutely Fabulous Events and a bottle of wine provided by SipStirs. The Community Fund of Darien will direct half your purchase to its local nonprofit partners providing help for people to achieve stability in their lives. TCF will provide free contact-less, doorstep delivery of your meal on Saturday, October 3rd between 4:00-5:15pm.
The $150/per family (feeds 4-6) purchase includes:
How else can you help? Put together a winter care package for residents at Inspirica and Pacific House of 1-2 gently used, clean coats/jackets and/or new socks, underwear and mittens (all sizes for adults and children accepted). Simply leave your gift of warmth and comfort on your doorstep on October 3rd and TCF’s amazing food delivery volunteers will collect the bag while delivering your dinner. Thank you for helping our neighbors in need!
Together, we can change lives and strengthen our community.
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.
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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