Meet Vincent and Rachel, two individuals with very different pasts who have built a better life for themselves through the help of FCA. Vincent is a Norwalk man who recently obtained housing through FCA’s Homeless Services. Early in his life, Vincent was heading to college on a baseball scholarship, but a severe car accident left him unable to play. After many years of battling depression, drugs and homelessness, Vincent worked with FCA to rebuild his life. Rachel unexpectedly became pregnant and learned the foundations of motherhood through FCA’s Family Support and Prevention Services.
More than 300 guests from throughout Fairfield County headed to The Loading Dock in Stamford on Saturday, May 30 for RE-IMAGINE 2015, Family & Children’s Agency’s (FCA) annual benefit. The event featured an inventive cuisine from renowned chef Abigail Kirsch, performances from Broadway star Liz Callaway and live and silent auctions. The evening’s co-chairs were FCA Board members Jill Dimitrief and Sharon Sullivan, both of Westport, and Lisa Lillie of Wilton.
“This year’s benefit had a record-breaking turnout with over 300 guests,” said Robert F. Cashel, President & CEO of FCA. “We are extremely grateful to RE-IMAGINE 2015’s generous sponsors and supporters, along with our dedicated Co-Chairs and Committee, without whom the event simply would not be possible.”
The silent auction included more than 50 fabulous packages from entertainment to jewelry to home décor, and the live auction featured tickets to the MLB Rawlings Gold Glove Dinner, a trip to a chic South Beach, Miami condo for Art Basel and a taco summer party, courtesy of Taco Loco. The evening was emceed by comedian Robert McNeel, while Tony nominee and Emmy Award-winning performer Liz Callaway sang multiple cabaret sets throughout the evening.
The event was titled “RE-IMAGINE” as FCA’s annual IMAGINE benefit was reinvented to highlight how the Agency builds better lives. Guests were shown videos of two FCA clients, Rachel and Vincent, who spoke of their journeys with FCA. Rachel, a mother of twins, has worked closely with FCA’s Family Support & Prevention Services, while Vincent is actively involved in Homeless Services. Their stories heartened many in the audience to participate in a Call to Action paddle raise, which raised over $140,000. Ninety cents of every dollar donated to FCA goes directly to services supporting our clients.
Corporate sponsors included BlumShapiro, CPB, Chase Bank of Wilton, First County Bank, GE Capital, Glen Gate Company, Jarden Corporation, MJP Wealth Advisors, People’s United Bank and Whitman Breed Abbott & Morgan LLC. Individual sponsors included Georgia & Charles Adams, Jill & Alexander Dimitrief, Julene & Simon Greenshields, the Herlyn Family, Sharon Sullivan & Jeffrey Kindler, Lisa & Jim Lillie, Rita Marber, Barbara & William O. Murphy, Kathleen P. & Peter Murphy, Carol & Jim Randal and Barbara & Brian Stern, and Maria & Tom Wilcox.
Twenty-five youth and eight Specialized Foster Care staff members headed south to Washington D.C. in April for the second annual College Tour for foster care adolescents. This trip was a unique experience for these teens, as many have never been out of state, stayed in a hotel or seen national monuments. The College Tour is designed to be educational, social and motivational for these teens and allow them to envision their future. This year, students visited Georgetown University, George Washington University and Howard University.
“It’s important for these students to see what’s out there and what’s possible,” said Janeen Reid, Supervisor of Adolescent Services of Specialized Foster Care at FCA. “These social outings allow the youth to really connect. It’s an experience they can share together.”
According to Janeen, many students attend alternative high schools that offer limited exposure to colleges. She hopes this trip will inspire them to pursue college or vocational schools upon graduation.
In addition to visiting three universities, the students and staff visited the National Zoo, Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and took a tour of the Capitol, courtesy of Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal.
Last year’s College Tour was the first of its kind for FCA, and students visited Coppin State University, Morgan State University and Towson University.
“This week-long trip is a testament to the creativity of our Specialized Foster Care staff at FCA,” said Robert F. Cashel, FCA President & CEO. “The staff is dedicated to the social and emotional growth of all youth in our programs, and experiences such as these simply would not be possible without their commitment and dedication.”
Specialized Foster Care at FCA includes Medically Complex and Therapeutic services for youth with severe medical or emotional issues. In addition, the Agency was awarded a grant last year by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to begin a new component for children who are experiencing extreme behavioral or emotional problems. The new program component, Family and Community Ties, provides alternatives to, and transitions from, residential placement facilities for foster children.
The month of May is recognized nationally as Older Americans Month, a time to honor the contributions of older adults in our communities. This year’s theme is “Get into the Act” and focuses on how older Americans are taking charge of their health, getting engaged in their communities and making a positive impact in the lives of others. FCA Home Care offers a wide spectrum of services providing aging adults with peace of mind, security and dignity. A service that is unique to FCA Home Care is the Caregiver Support program, which provides free individual counseling and in-home support to family members caring for aging adults. This program is offered free of charge with support from the Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging (SWCAA).
According to Megan Haque, LCSW with FCA Home Care, caregivers can feel burnt out, stressed or overwhelmed with the role they have taken on. “The Caregiver Support program allows family caregivers to speak freely and express how they are feeling in this role without fearing judgment,” says Megan. “It gives them the opportunity to connect with a trained therapist and to meet in the comfort of their own home.”
The Caregiver Support program also offers referrals to doctors and home care providers for aging seniors.
To learn more about the Caregiver Support program, contact Megan Haque, LCSW with FCA Home Care, at (203) 831-2900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
FCA Home Care provides peace of mind, security and dignity for you or your loved one. We provide a continuum of care to allow adults to remain safe and independent in their own homes. We are your trusted Fairfield County nonprofit Home Care provider, and our services include Personal Alert emergency response system, Live-In Care, Home Health Aides, Homemakers and Companions, Assisted Transportation and Home Modification. Our staff is licensed with the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health and thoroughly vetted. As part of a larger human service agency, our knowledge of adult care is unparalleled.
The After School Program at Family & Children’s Agency (FCA) serves 50 Norwalk middle school youth throughout the school year. Character building is a large component of the Program’s curriculum, and recently the students learned about “citizenship” by hearing about other programs at FCA, including Specialized Foster Care and Homeless Services.
As they learned more, the students realized that many youth in foster care and homeless adults do not even have luggage to carry their belongings from home to home and rely on garbage bags. Duffle bags and luggage are items that so many of us take for granted. Arriving at a new foster home or taking steps to transition out of homelessness can be daunting, but having something as simple as a duffle instead of a garbage bag can help an individual navigate these transitions with dignity and confidence.
FCA is so proud of our After School Program students. Please help us in spreading the word to get local organizations to donate luggage of any kind to help these students help others.
To donate luggage, contact Anne Schneider, Coordinator of Mentoring Services, at (203) 523-5776 or email email@example.com.
The third week of April is recognized nationally as the Week of the Young Child, a period to celebrate and increase attention on early childhood programs and services that meet the needs of young children and their families. This year’s theme, as deemed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, is “Celebrating Our Youngest Learners.” Many events will be held throughout the greater Norwalk region this month, and to kick off the week Family & Children’s Agency’s (FCA) Family Support & Prevention services held a Literacy Day on Friday, April 10. This annual event was hosted by students and volunteers from Pear Tree Point School in Darien.
Pear Tree Point School students read to young children on Literacy Day.
“It’s so important to read to young children, even at early ages,” said Mary Kate Locke, Director of Adoption and Prevention Services at FCA. “These early years help shape their learning and development. Literacy Day created a fun environment for families with young children to come together and promote reading.”
Approximately 20 students from Pear Tree Point School and adult volunteers hosted the event at Christ Church in Norwalk, which included a healthy lunch, crafts and live music for children to sing along. Students from Pear Tree Point School paired off with families with young children and read stories aloud.
In addition to Literacy Day for FCA families, other Week of the Young Child sponsors in the greater Norwalk region include the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County, Norwalk Public Library, Norwalk Early Childhood Council, Norwalk School Readiness Providers, and Norwalk Early Childhood Office. Visit their websites for upcoming events and activities.
Family Support & Prevention services FCA provides support and guidance to parents and their young children through the Nurturing Family Network, Fatherhood Initiative, Maternal Outreach and Mentoring Service (MOMS) program, Healthy Start and Child FIRST. The program’s trained staff educates parents so they can build a strong foundation for their family’s growth. All programs are offered free of charge in English and Spanish to families in the Greater Norwalk area and are on a voluntary basis.
For more information, please contact Mary Kate Locke, Director of Adoption and Prevention Services, at (203) 855-8765 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your honoree will receive a card with this painting created by a client in the Community Connections Center Art Program at Family & Children’s Agency for adults experiencing homelessness.
Honor someone in your life this Mother’s Day by supporting at-risk mothers and children in our community. With your donation, Family & Children’s Agency (FCA) will mail someone you’d like to honor a card that showcases artwork by an Agency client.
Sent in early May, the notecard will explain that you have chosen to honor them by making a donation to support programs at FCA that benefit at-risk mothers and children in our community.
Some ways in which your donation can support mothers and their children are:
In-home instruction for a first-time mother and her infant
Educational resources for a parenting group
Pre-natal education to increase the incidence of full-term, healthy births
Prevention programs to reduce childhood abuse and neglect
$50 – 1 Honoree / In Memory Card
$100 – 3 Honorees / In Memory Cards
Thank you to everyone who supported Fairfield County Giving Day!
Previous post: Thursday, March 5 is the second annual Fairfield County Giving Day, powered by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. It’s 24 hours to give where you live. Be a part of something big and support Family & Children’s Agency and help turn your $10 donation into $25,000.
Fairfield County Giving Day will be held from 12 a.m. – 11:59 p.m. on March 5. Hundreds of nonprofits throughout Fairfield County will be competing for a grand prize of $25,000. The organization with the most donations wins, so whether you give $10 or $100, you can help make a difference! Contact Janina Serrao, Director of Development, with any questions regarding your donation at (203) 855-8764 or email@example.com.
“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.
The Summer Enrichment Program, a component of the After School Program at Family & Children’s Agency (FCA), has received a $20,000 grant from Fairfield County’s Community Foundation (FCCF). The Summer Enrichment Program serves Norwalk youth four days per week over the course of six weeks during the summer break.
Students and high school volunteers from FCA’s Summer Enrichment Program this past summer took a virtual trip around the world participating in cross-curriculum learning while strengthening their character.
“Fairfield County’s Community Foundation has been a longtime supporter of Family & Children’s Agency, in particular our services for youth,” said Robert F. Cashel, President & CEO of FCA. “Last year, the Summer Enrichment Program expanded to serve 30 middle school youth. Funding for this program is critical to ensure the Program’s continuation and growth.”
The Summer Enrichment Program provides students with ongoing opportunities for daily reading and learning during the summer months. The Program offers educational, hands-on activities for students to explore interests, develop new skills and participate in learning not typically offered in a classroom setting. The Summer Enrichment Program is a component of the After School Program, which helps provide a successful transition into high school for 50 Norwalk middle school youth.
Fairfield County’s Community Foundation promotes philanthropy as a means to create change in Fairfield County, focusing on innovative and collaborative solutions to critical issues impacting the community. Individuals, families, corporations and organizations can establish charitable funds or contribute to existing funds. The Community Foundation is in compliance with the Council on Foundations’ national standards, and has awarded $180 million in grants to nonprofits in Fairfield County and beyond. For more information, visit www.fccfoundation.org.