Family & Children’s Agency is thrilled to announce its spring benefit will see a transformation! This year’s event, RE-IMAGINE 2015, will be held on Saturday, May 30 at The Loading Dockin Stamford, CT. The evening will highlight Family & Children’s Agency and the 10,000+ individuals we impact throughout Fairfield County. With a chic new venue, inventive cuisine, and entertainment by Broadway star Liz Callaway, you won’t want to miss RE-IMAGINE!
As you may know, RE-IMAGINE is our largest annual fundraising initiative; we host hundreds of guests from Darien, New Canaan, Rowayton, Westport, Wilton and surrounding communities for an evening of dining, entertainment, silent auction, as well as a compelling program. Since 1942, Family & Children’s Agency has been helping individuals in our community build better lives. As a leading nonprofit human service agency, we are committed to increasing the social and emotional well-being of our clients. We provide solution focused services that meet the needs of individuals throughout the life cycle, including children, families, youth, adults and seniors.
Thursday, February 267 – 9:30 p.m.Painting With a Twist 1460 Post Road East – Westport
Hosted by FCA’s Junior Board of Directors
Sip…Paint…Relax…all while supporting a great cause. Join the Agency for a fun night out and learn how to paint “Afternoon at the Lighthouse”. 50% of the evening’s proceeds will benefit the After School Program at FCA.
FCA will be providing wine and snacks, but please feel free to bring your favorite beverage, if you prefer. Cups, wine openers and ice buckets will be provided, as well.
Payment online or via phone is required to guarantee your reservation. If you are unable to pay online, please call the studio at 203-955-1855 to pay by phone.
Please Note: This class is intended for adult painters, although painters aged 15-20 will be permited, if accompanied by an adult. You must be at least 21 to consume alcohol in the studio.
VITA Program services will be offered on Tuesdays between 5-9 p.m. beginning January 27 through April 7. These services are open to any individuals or families in the greater Norwalk region who earn less than $52,000 per year. Those participating in the VITA Program should bring the following items to their appointment:
Valid photo ID
Social Security cards or official Social Security number (SSN) verification letters for yourself, spouse and any dependents, or Individual Taxpayer Identification number with letter for you and anyone else to be on your tax return
All income statements from work or from self-employment, Social Security or pensions, including W-2, 1099-R, 1099-Misc.
All interest, dividend and capital gain statements from bank(s)
Education expenses and student loan payments
Total dollars paid for child and dependent care, in addition to the day care provider’s address and tax ID number
Copy of checking and savings account numbers, and routing numbers for tax return direct deposit
Mortgage interest and real estate taxes paid
Other deductions, property taxes paid to the town
Copy of last year’s federal and state returns if available
The VITA Program is provided by IRS-trained volunteers that are certified to prepare basic tax returns using TaxWise Online software. VITA sites also connect families to programs and services that can help them to maximize their tax refunds, such as matched savings programs, budget coaching, financial education and benefits screenings.
To schedule a tax appointment with FCA, contact Crystal Charlton at (203) 523-5336. No walk-ins will be taken after 8:45 p.m.
“I’m so happy that I’m able to give the gift of tranquility,” said Angelina Vescio, Family & Children’s Agency Community Connections Center Relief Worker. This “gift of tranquility” is something so simple, yet significant, to clients experiencing homelessness: crocheting.
This past June, Angelina was speaking to a woman at the Community Connections Center of her love for crocheting and she had expressed an interest in learning about the craft. Quickly after, a weekly crocheting class evolved with the number of attendees increasing each week. Angelina plays calming, classical music during the classes and makes the environment as therapeutic as possible.
The Community Connections Center allows men and women experiencing homelessness to receive case management, vocational counseling and support during daytime hours. For many, the ability to focus their energy on crocheting is incredibly beneficial and relaxing.
“The people in this group have found a new passion in life,” said Angelina. “It’s amazing how something as simple as crocheting has impacted their lives and allowed them to have a better outlook on life and experience calmness.”
Many clients have spoken to Angelina about the benefits they’ve experienced with this class. Individuals with insomnia and depression have found that this exercise helps them relax and feel rewarded by creating something with their own two hands.
To donate crochet needles and yarn to the Community Connections Center, please contact Chris Jachino, Director of Homeless Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (203) 855-8765.
January is National Mentoring Month. Mentoring has been a core component of Family & Children’s Agency’s (FCA) Youth Development program for over 40 years. FCA offers site-based mentoring services to students in the After School Program, a program for 50 Norwalk middle school youth on the Norwalk Community College campus. Mentoring programs have the proven ability to increase positive academic outcomes, self-efficacy and social skills, while also decreasing engagement in negative behaviors. For this reason, pairing a mentor with youth in the After School Program will further strengthen their positive development. Utilizing NCC as a home-base allows each student’s academic progress to be tracked, FCA staff to maintain regular supervision with each match, and enhance the experience for both the mentors and mentees through the variety of academic, cultural, recreational and career resources available.
This is the story of Monica, and how a mentor has radically impacted her transition into high school.
Within moments of meeting, it was evident that Monica was unique from most 14-year-old girls who have just entered high school. She wasn’t boy crazy, giggly or fawning over teenage fashions. While sitting across a table at Norwalk Community College (NCC) from her mentor, Elizabeth, Monica exuded an introspective, wise-beyond-her-years demeanor, thoughtfully answering questions and reflecting on her experiences in the After School Program at Family & Children’s Agency.
Monica, right, sits across from her mentor, Elizabeth.
“It’s unusual for someone at her age, or any age, to have so much insight into their feelings,” said Elizabeth, a volunteer with the After School Program and a member of FCA’s Junior Board. Elizabeth began mentoring Monica in October of 2013, when Monica was in eighth grade.
Although calm and composed on the outside, Monica abounds with creativity. Her imagination manifests itself in her well-worn sketchbook with packed pages of drawings. These aren’t just any cartoons, however. She creates complete characters with personalities and plotlines, such as the Halloween “Spook Crew” or the friendly dragon with a penchant for hoarding snacks. Even a question as simple as, “What’s your favorite animal?” led to a whirlwind discussion of the fascinating distinctions between mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates—a species most adults haven’t given thought to since grade school. (After a careful process of elimination, however, she did declare the alpaca to be her favorite.)
This pensive, imaginative manner, however, has often made Monica feel like an outsider among her peers. Although she’s enjoyed her years in the FCA After School Program and has made many friends, she still struggled with self-confidence.
This began to change, however, when Monica met Elizabeth last fall. The mentoring relationship began organically as Elizabeth started helping Monica with homework. It wasn’t long after that they were fully integrated in the mentoring component of the After School Program, meeting once a week on the NCC campus. The two worked on academics, participated in planned activities and often just talked about anything and everything going on in Monica’s life.
According to Monica, she connects with adults more easily than her peers.
“I’m more comfortable talking to an adult with life experiences than some of my friends that don’t actually understand what I’m going through,” said Monica.
The mentoring partnership has continued for the last year as Monica entered high school in Norwalk. Although she admits she had a great deal of anxiety about the first day of high school, she quickly found a group of friends with similar interests and passions, such as art. In addition to joining an anime club, she is part of the Norwalk Early College Academy (NECA), a six-year program that allows Norwalk high school students to also take courses to earn an associate degree through NCC. Monica remains part of the Alumni component of the After School Program, as well.
The core mission of the After School Program is to ensure students have a successful transition into high school. The staff of the Program, however, recognizes that a successful transition entails far more than academics. The Program fosters an environment that provides creative outlets and identifies students, such as Monica, who would benefit from one-on-one attention from a mentor. FCA Mentoring Coordinator Anne Schneider said that Monica has flourished emotionally and socially since she’s been matched with Elizabeth.
“‘Confident’ was a word I would have never used to describe myself before,” said Monica.
Although Monica remains connected to FCA through the high school component, Anne strongly believes Elizabeth and Monica will remain connected for many, many years to come.
Family & Children’s Agency wishes you health and happiness in the New Year! Here is a look back on 2014–from holiday parties to graduations, from summer picnics to Halloween, this year has been a great success. Thank you for your continued support in helping us to build better lives.
Thank you to everyone who came together to donate to FCA families this holiday season. You have made the holiday season warmer and brighter for so many families. A holiday program of this magnitude is only made possible through our dedicated community and corporate partners who continue to support FCA clients each year.
Holiday Gift Giving and Sponsor a Family Programs
Family & Children’s Agency’s Holiday Gift Giving Collection received over 1,200 gifts for children and families of all ages this holiday season. In addition, our Sponsor a Family program provided 15 entire families with gifts.
Nine holiday meals and events were held for FCA families of all ages, including Family Support and Prevention, Homeless Services, the After School Program, Specialized Foster Care, Project REWARD and Home Care Services for Seniors.Thank you to all our sponsors and volunteers!
Chaz & AJ Toy Drive
For the third year in a row, Family & Children’s Agency has participated in the Chaz & AJ Toy Drive at the Webster Bank Arena, sponsored by 95.9 The FOX and Connoisseur Media. The radio stations of Connoisseur Media have been longtime friends of FCA and we thank them for their continued support!
When you do your holiday shopping at AmazonSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase to back Family & Children’s Agency. AmazonSmile is the same as Amazon; enjoy the same deals and service and give back while you shop!
Click here to sign up to have Amazon donate to FCA each time you shop!
Family & Children’s Agency would like to thank everyone who donated to this year’s Thanksgiving meal basket collection drive. More than 175 meal baskets with grocery store gift certificates were collected and distributed to FCA families for the holidays. In addition, thank you to those who provided food for a wonderful Thanksgiving meal for Homeless Services clients.
Students from St. Patrick’s of Redding Religious Education program donate Thanksgiving Meal baskets.
As you gather around your table this Thanksgiving, know that others are enjoying a meal because of your generosity!