Last year, Family & Children’s Agency’s Junior Board of Directors sponsored A Taste of Fairfield County at Aitoro to benefit Homeless Services. This year, A Taste of Fairfield County returns on Thursday, Nov. 13 to support FCA’s After School Program. Restaurants, chefs and caterers from around the county will come together to offer samplings of a variety of food and drinks. Join us for a fun evening of food, drinks, entertainment and raffles to support the more than 50 students involved in FCA’s After School Program in Norwalk.
The After School Program is once again lucky enough to have the Rowayton Arts Center fund a six-week art program. In addition to art expression, students will learn how to be art docents to describe their work to the public. Please join us in supporting the After School Program students for the Expressive Arts Class gallery opening!
Another year, another great Minks to Sinks sale! Thank you to all who donated, consigned, volunteered and shopped this past week!
Minks to Sinks, often referred to as the greatest treasure hunt in town, will kick off its fall sale this weekend on Saturday, Oct. 4 at the corner of Danbury Road (Route 7) and School Road in Wilton. An auxiliary of Family & Children’s Agency (FCA), Minks to Sinks holds two tag sales per year offering an incredible variety of clothing, furniture, kitchen items, art, books, athletic equipment, toys and more. Proceeds from each sale benefit FCA.
Minks to Sinks has its roots in Wilton, having taken place since 1931. Today, the sale brings out nearly 200 volunteers from the Wilton community, many of whom have been involved in Minks to Sinks for over 30 years. During the semi-annual sale, volunteers work tirelessly to price, ticket, organize and display the thousands of items that are donated or consigned for the sale. Volunteers don the trademark red, white and blue striped aprons.
“Family & Children’s Agency’s relationship with Minks to Sinks dates back as far as the 1950s. In that time period, Minks to Sinks has donated roughly $2.9 million to FCA,” said Robert F. Cashel, President & CEO of FCA. “We are grateful each year for their wonderful work.”
Minks to Sinks sale hours are:
Saturday, Oct. 4th: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 5th: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 6th : 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Sunday and Monday dates are half-priced bargain days, with all items for sale at 50 percent off the marked price. On Monday, all shoppers may fill a bag with any merchandise at the sale for only $7.
September 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of National Recovery Month, a period to applaud the gains made by those in recovery as we would those who are managing other health conditions. National Recovery Month emphasizes that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover. Family & Children’s Agency (FCA) offers Project REWARD, southern Fairfield County’s only outpatient substance abuse facility specifically designed for women. This month, FCA celebrates the achievements made by those in Project REWARD and encourages other women battling substance abuse to take the first step toward recovery.
“Project REWARD offers a continuum of care with a variety of outpatient options,” said Robert F. Cashel, President & CEO of FCA. “This program provides the support and safety that an all-women’s program can ensure.”
Project REWARD has been serving clients since 1993. All clients who are referred to the program meet privately with a clinician for a comprehensive evaluation to determine the appropriate level of care. The Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for three hours, with less-intensive programs offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Project REWARD is unique in that it provides both child care and transportation for those within our catchment area of Norwalk, Darien, Wilton, Greenwich, New Canaan, Stamford, Westport, Wilton and Weston.
“Women feel more comfortable opening up and sharing in a gender-specific environment,” said Elizabeth Murdoch, LCSW, Director of Behavioral Health at FCA. “This individualized attention allows the staff to help the client determine triggers and stressors to help prevent relapses.”
In addition to relapse prevention, group discussions focus on co-occurring mental health issues, anger management, domestic violence, parenting, mindfulness, relaxation, co-dependency issues and nutritional education. Women in the program have access to a psychiatrist for an evaluation and, if needed, medication management.
FCA believes that mental health and addiction recovery is essential to overall well-being, and supports the efforts being made around the country during National Recovery Month.
Family & Children’s Agency is thrilled to share that it was listed as the number one Work Place in Fairfield County in 2014 for mid-sized companies by Hearst Media Services. This is FCA’s first year being included on the Top Work Place list, and we are both honored and proud to have placed first out of 10 in this category.
The Top Work Place competition is conducted through an independent employee surveying company. Seventy-four companies throughout the region participated in the survey this year. FCA had a 68 percent response rate among employees, and FCA employee responses greatly surpassed national averages in terms of employee satisfaction, such as encouraging new ideas, being well-informed, conducting work efficiently and feeling that senior management understands what is going on.
As noted in the article written by the Connecticut Post, staff feedback is valued highly at FCA. “We have a culture that really looks to bring in employees at all different levels into the organization,” said FCA’s President & CEO Robert F. Cashel.
More than $100,000 was raised at Family & Children’s Agency’s (FCA) annual Golf & Tennis Classic, held Sep. 8, 2014 at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield. Mark Brown, of Wilton, and Jamie Bergin, of Darien, chaired the golf tournament, while Stephanie Mercado and Mary Cahill, both of Wilton, chaired the tennis portion of the event.
“The Golf & Tennis Classic continues to be a tremendous success each year for Family & Children’s Agency,” said Robert F. Cashel, President & CEO of FCA. “We are so grateful to our sponsors and players who supported the event this year. We are proud to say that 90 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to helping clients.”
Corporate sponsors, participants and donors for the golf outing included Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Bloomberg Tradebook, cg42, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Hillhead Capital Inc., The Hour Publishing Company, HSBC, Idelle Labs, Jefferies, KCG Hotspot, Maplewood Senior Living, McMahon Ford of Norwalk, MJP Wealth Advisors, Morgan Stanley, Nomura Securities International, Inc., People’s United Bank, RBS, Stein|Troost architecture, UBS, Weeden & Co. LP and Xerox Corporation. Individual sponsors and donors included Deanna and Jamie Bergin, Tammy and Mark Brown, Jill and Alex Dimitrief, Jay and Mark Lux, Kathleen and Peter Murphy, Barbara and William O. Murphy, and Friends of Family & Children’s Agency.
150 backpacks were collected from local donors for FCA clients!
“Family & Children’s Agency is so grateful to our supporters who donate back to school supplies for clients each fall,” said Robert F. Cashel, President & CEO of FCA. “School supplies are essential for academic success, and these donations will mean so much to the students and families receiving them.”
This is Rachel Schiavone’s first year donating school supplies in honor of their friend Victoria Soto, a teacher who was killed in the Sandy Hook tragedy. Both the Service League of Boys of New Canaan and the Sciarretta and Lord families of Wilton are in their seventh year of donating back to school supplies. The “Tools for School” drive, conducted by the Wilton families, collects backpacks filled with supplies, which are given to sixth grade students in the After School Program. The tradition began when one student in the family began to collect school supplies in lieu of birthday presents seven years ago. In its third year, FactSet Research Systems had a “giving tree” with over 100 request tags for employees to take.
Thanks to the generosity of both the Greenshields family and the Knights of Columbus, many of the Agency’s program clients have been able to enjoy a day a the ballpark in FCA’s suite to watch the Bridgeport Bluefish. See pictures below:
Thank you to all who supported Men Who Cook! It was a wonderful day to taste delicious views, watch the Bluefish and support FCA!
All smiles from the FCA team!
Great afternoon for a ball game.
A glimpse of the FCA suite!
Deep fried Oreos… enough said.
Thank to all who participated!
[Original post: July 21, 2014] Men from the greater Fairfield County area will be donning aprons and putting their kitchen skills to the test on Sunday, July 27 for “Men Who Cook,” hosted by the Bridgeport Bluefish to benefit Family & Children’s Agency (FCA). Tickets to Men Who Cook are $45 and include entry to the game and VIP suite access at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard to sample food from various local chefs and restaurants. The event will take place during game one of the day-night doubleheader against the Long Island Ducks at 1 p.m., and a portion of the proceeds will benefit FCA.
“FCA is thrilled to team up with the Bridgeport Bluefish for Men Who Cook,” said Robert F. Cashel, President & CEO of FCA. “Men Who Cook is a unique, family-friendly opportunity to take in a ballgame and support a local cause. FCA is grateful to have the Bridgeport Bluefish as a newfound supporter and friend of the Agency.”
“Men Who Cook is another new and exciting event for the Bridgeport Bluefish. We are pleased FCA is our partner,” said Bluefish General Manager Ken Shepard.
FCA’s newfound partnership with the Bridgeport Bluefish began earlier this season when the Agency “adopted” a suite, which has provided opportunities for both clients and donors to enjoy games with the convenience and comfort of a suite.
For more information or to purchase tickets to Men Who Cook, call (203) 210-BLUE (2583) or visit www.BridgeportBluefish.com and include the promotional code: FCA. The Bridgeport Bluefish are members of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball and play their home games at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard.
To learn more about hosting your friends and family at FCA’s Bridgeport Bluefish suite this season, contact Janina Serrao, Director of Development, at (203) 855-8765 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two kids, a dog and a house with a white picket fence is universally considered the archetypical American dream. Despite its simplicity, however, building what’s considered the average American family is a struggle for millions of families everywhere. Kristin Peck, a businesswoman and Darien resident, along with her husband Bob, spent five years facing hurdles in their pursuit of a family, which included five miscarriages, six infertility efforts, four infertility doctors, a surrogate’s miscarriage, a birth mother with a substance abuse issue, preeclampsia and a nurse involved in a murder scandal. For the woman who always had a plan, her journey to motherhood would prove to take her off course over and over. Through it all, however, Kristin and Bob never lost faith that they would complete their family someday. Now, years later and two children in tow, Kristin tells her story in the e-book, Perseverance, and encourages women everywhere to never give up on building their family.
Perseverance was selected by Amazon.com’s Books Editors as one of the Best Kindle Singles of the Year So Far. The “Best of the Year So Far” is a midyear retrospect that highlights the must-reads released between January and June 2014.
This is a very personal story. What inspired you to share it?
(left to right) Bob, Taylor, Connor and Kristin Peck.
My husband [Bob] originally suggested I begin to write the story down. As I was writing, it occurred to me how alone I felt throughout this crazy journey. I hoped it would help other women going through similar journeys to not feel so alone. I began passing [the manuscript] around to my friends, and as it got shared, I found more and more women going through similar situations. Many women feel as if they’re the only ones struggling; it’s hard to explain or talk about unless you’ve gone through it.
The events that led you to build your family were incredibly painful. Was it often difficult to relive these memories?
Initially, it was really cathartic. I realized how proud I was that we got through it. It’s harder for me to read the story now. When I was working on the final book for Kindle and had to define what should be included and what shouldn’t, that was hard and emotional. I even debated whether or not to release the book. It’s strange having people know so much personal information about you, but I think the book resonates with people because of its honesty.
You discuss a lot about trusting your instinct. Reflecting back, do you have any regrets or things you may have done differently, or was it all part of the journey that led to your two children?
The latter. I try in my life, as a general philosophy, to not have regrets. I will make every decision the best I can. I’ve made mistakes, did the best I could and sometimes it doesn’t work out. I believe life is 75 percent competence and hard work, and 25 percent luck. Getting that call [a phone call regarding the birth of her adopted daughter, Taylor]—that’s a little bit of luck. I really feel that she was destined to be our daughter, but that doesn’t mean you should wait for destiny to happen and not take your own steps.
When your father was sick in the hospital, you were given advice from another patient’s family to be your own advocate and pay attention to his medications and progress. The advice proved to be crucial later in life. Why is it important to be your own advocate, whether choosing different reproductive measures or pursuing adoption?
It’s extremely important because nobody has to live your life except you. Knowing your own condition and the questions to ask is crucial. Whether it’s your health or the adoption process, you can’t just hope someone else will take care of it. You need to be assertive. There’s much of this process that you don’t have control over, but you can have these conversations with your doctor or the adoption agency to gain some of that back.
You often discuss how you’re a very organized, meticulous person who doesn’t leave much to chance. How hard was it to surrender control so many times to doctors and adoption agencies?
Author and Darien resident Kristin Peck.
The hardest part of the whole process was not having control. The adoption process has taught me more life lessons than anything else. I’m now much calmer when plans don’t work out. Flexibility is what matters most. You need to have a plan, but sometimes the winds change direction and you need to change course. As long as you’re going in the same direction, you’ll have the same destination. I’m a better mom now because of it.
What surprised you the most about the adoption process?
Just how unpredictable and unexpected the process can be. You have to embrace a tremendous amount of uncertainty and questions you may not have been prepared to face.
How old are your children now?
Both are 8-years-old. My daughter is in third grade and my son is in second. My daughter [Taylor] loves science, and my son [Connor] is the polar opposite. He loves acting and theater; he’s very social.
Describe the moment you first held your daughter in your arms.
I was so scared, honestly. When someone hands you a baby, you feel an incredible responsibility for its well-being and to take care of it. I was in awe of her. She was the most beautiful girl I’ve ever held. When someone essentially says, “You’re responsible for this life,” it’s instant. I have such amazing respect and admiration for birth mothers. The idea of someone loving their child enough to want a better life for them…there’s nothing more selfless. I feel so amazed to have had a woman trust me to do that. I’m amazed by it every day.
Have you shared with your daughter, Taylor, her story about how she was adopted?
We’ve shared it with her since the day she was born, which is something I learned from Family & Children’s Agency. We wanted her to know her story, and there are some things that are public, such as us getting the call to go to Texas, how she was named or her ethnicity, but other things are more private and it’s for her to decide if or when she tells others about her story. She’s amazingly proud of being adopted and tells everybody.
How was the first year after you had both of your children as a new mother and father with two babies?
It was rough trying to manage careers and lack of sleep, but I rarely complained because I had fought for five years for this blessing. This is what I worked so hard for, and even though it was difficult at times, I could have been where I was a year before.
You discuss meeting with FCA to begin the process of adoption. You mentioned that FCA helped you confront some of the difficult questions people may ask, such as, “why didn’t their parents want them,” etc. Did you find that was an issue when people learned that your daughter was adopted and only months apart from your son?
It’s amazing the questions people ask. But I felt prepared, and prepared to answer [Taylor’s] questions, as well, such as questions about her birth father, or the family tree conversation. Those are things we haven’t discussed yet, but will be relevant someday.
You’ve chosen to donate the proceeds from this book to Family & Children’s Agency. How else did the Agency help you during this period? (Home visits, answering questions?)
Connor and Taylor Peck
[Our case manager] was incredibly flexible, and so was FCA. They were always incredibly responsive. They’re used to the unpredictability, so it was seamless with FCA. Our case manager, Sue, was so calming. Why haven’t we received a call yet? Can we handle a birth mother with substance abuse issues? How was I going to discuss certain things with family and friends? There are unbelievable topics and questions they helped us through.
Any final words, about you shouldn’t give up and build the family you want?
The message I hope people leave my book with is that there is no one way to form a family—be open minded and don’t give up. And, if you love someone who is struggling with fertility or adoption, ask what they need and be supportive. Trying to be helpful, people often say, “You just need to relax; if you weren’t so stressed maybe it would work out.” When having a baby is your dream, try not thinking about it. It made me feel guilty and selfish for wanting and caring so much. Instead, all I wanted to hear was, “I am so sorry. I love you. I am here for you. What can I do to help?” It’s a rough road, and the love of family and friends is crucial no matter what way you go.