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Volunteer Spotlight: Gen Re

Gen Re's contributions program, led by José González, Global Diversity Equity, and Inclusion Officer, have not only enriched the community but have also set a sterling example of corporate responsibility and personal commitment.

Gen Re has a longstanding commitment to supporting their employees in volunteering with FCA, and José’s connection with the Agency predates his current role. Alongside his son, Gavyn, he fulfilled holiday gift requests from FCA clients and expanded their impact by participating in FCA’s 80th Anniversary Block Party. Here, alongside other Gen Re employees, José and Gavyn ran game booths, creating a festive atmosphere for attendees.

During the holiday seasons, José mobilized a team from Gen Re to host holiday parties for FCA’s Child & Family Development programs. Notably, Gen Re not only contributed volunteer hours but also fully underwrote these events, ensuring they were a success.

Understanding the importance of career development, José connected FCA’s ASPIRE high school students with Gen Re’s Job Shadow Day, sponsored by Gen Re’s Professionals of Color and Allies Employee Resource Group (ERG). Several students had the opportunity to shadow Gen Re employees for a day, gaining valuable insights into the professional world. This initiative was complemented by José's personal engagement with the ASPIRE program, where he interacted with student ambassadors and gained a deeper appreciation for the program's impact.

“The students were very mature, they were so motivated, so well-versed, and proud of the work they are doing and the program. For me that really resonated and I got to see firsthand how the program helps these students and why it is so successful,” he said.

In addition, Gen Re has been a steadfast supporter of FCA’s IMAGINE benefit, both as a sponsor and by organizing employee attendance to the event. These evenings play a pivotal role in raising funds and awareness for FCA’s ongoing initiatives.

José's commitment to volunteerism is deeply rooted in his upbringing, where his immigrant parents instilled the values of community service and positive societal impact.

“It connects you to the community and other people,” José reflects. “Now in my role at Gen Re, I can contribute to our mission of serving the community.”

Gen Re has a longstanding tradition of supporting local communities, believing that responsible businesses can significantly impact society positively. They actively promote volunteerism among their employees, offering flexibility and opportunities to engage in charity work during working hours. This policy not only fosters community engagement but also strengthens the bonds among employees.

“Gen Re has a long and rich history of supporting our local community. We want to have a beneficial impact on our society and the communities where our employees live and work,” said José.

José's and Gen Re's contributions to FCA are profound. They exemplify how purposeful volunteerism and corporate support can uplift the community. Thank you, Gen, Re, and thank you José!

Bingo at the Beer Garden

314 Wilson Ave, Norwalk, CT 06854

We are thrilled to announce the inaugural Bingo at the Beer Garden event hosted by our Junior Board of Advisors! This family-friendly event will be held on Saturday, June 15, 2024 at 314 Beer Garden in Norwalk. We look forward to gathering with friends to celebrate the important work of the Agency while enjoying an afternoon of bingo, raffles, and fun!

Adults: $30 for one, $50 for two
Children: $10 (under 5 free)

All tickets include 5 bingo cards.
Adult tickets include one drink.
Additional cards and food available for purchase.

Tickets and Information

Minks to Sinks Volunteer: Savona

Meet Savona, a young volunteer at the Minks to Sinks sale, a biannual event that not only gives a new lease on life to pre-loved items but also promotes sustainability. Since sixth grade, Savona has been a part of this unique initiative, evolving from an enthusiastic attendee to a dedicated volunteer.

Minks to Sinks is more than just a sale; it’s a community tradition in Wilton, fostering environmental stewardship and responsible consumerism. At its core, the event is a giant tag sale where items from furniture to clothing and household goods find new homes, diverting waste from landfills and providing opportunities for shoppers to find great deals.

From a young age, Savona was captivated by the energy and the mountains of items at the sale. It wasn’t long before she was organizing the frames department, and then moved to the clothing department where she implemented a new system of size tags and themed bins to streamline the sorting process. This not only made it easier for volunteers to manage donations but also enhanced the shopping experience for attendees looking for specific items. She didn’t do it alone – she got her mom, Caryn, involved as well. Caryn is now also a dedicated volunteer, and even runs the Minks to Sinks social media pages.

The funds raised from Minks to Sinks support Family & Children’s Agency, further amplifying the positive impact of each purchase.

Inspired by her efforts at Minks to Sinks, Savona decided to create a year-round thrift store at Wilton High School for students, an incredible initiative and successful operation. For Savona, the experience is more than just volunteering; it's a steppingstone towards her career goal of creating or leading a business that enhances the sustainability of the clothing industry.

As we look towards future sales, the community can take pride in supporting a cause that offers a win-win for both the environment and the wallet. Whether you're a treasure hunter or an eco-conscious shopper, Minks to Sinks is a perfect example of how we can all make a difference—one sale at a time.

Join us for the sale!

Sale Dates

Saturday, May 4 | 9am - 5pm
Sunday, May 5 | 12pm - 4pm
(Bargain Day - everything half off!)
Monday, May 6 | 9am - 11am
(Bargain Day - fill a bag for $10!)

Consigning & Donating

Tuesday, April 30 | 10am - 2pm
Wednesday, May 1 | 10am - 2pm & 4pm - 6:30pm
Thursday, May 2 | 10am - 2pm (Donations only)

Celebrating National Volunteer Week: Barb

As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, we are proud to recognize the hearts and hands that shape our community. Today we are spotlighting a remarkable volunteer at Family & Children's Agency (FCA) — Barb. Since September 2021, Barb has dedicated her time and talents to the ASPIRE after-school program, where she plays a vital role in nurturing our middle school students.

Barb volunteers two to three times a week, offering homework help and one-on-one support to students. Her nurturing approach helps lighten the load of homework stress for both the children and their parents, making a significant impact in their daily lives.

Barb’s philosophy about volunteering is deeply inspiring. “It's really important to me to do something and give something back to the community," she explained. Her love for the ASPIRE program and its mission is a driving force behind her volunteerism. She adds, “I love what they stand for and what they do, and I think it’s so important to spend time with kids because that’s our future.”

What Barb finds most rewarding is the moment when the children she helps start to open up and actively seek her assistance. This development signifies a trust and bond that are crucial in mentorship. Barb's enthusiasm for her role is palpable as she describes the joy of volunteering with FCA: “It's so wonderful to see what FCA does for the community. All of the different pieces of it and the outreach.”

Thank you, Barb, for your outstanding contribution to the Family & Children’s Agency and for setting such a powerful example of selflessness and community spirit.

National Volunteer Week - Madalene

As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, we're thrilled to spotlight one of our volunteers at Family & Children's Agency (FCA) – Madalene.

Madalene's volunteer journey began after her retirement in 2017 when she discovered FCA while volunteering with another organization providing food at an FCA location. She was immediately drawn to FCA, and volunteering with us has since become an important part of her post-retirement life.

At FCA, Madalene has embraced a diverse array of roles, from baking cookies for the Holiday Bazaar and crafting photo collages to volunteering at Minks to Sinks and supporting the ASPIRE after-school program. Each role has allowed her to contribute in different but significant ways, utilizing her talents and energy to further the Agency's mission.

A particularly heartfelt aspect of her work involves the ASPIRE program, where she is not only a volunteer but also a donor, specifically funding summer transportation for students. This support enables these young individuals to participate in enriching field trips that would otherwise be out of their reach, providing them with experiences that create life-long memories and a sense of community.

Madalene's motivation for volunteering is deeply personal. As a single mother who once struggled to provide for her own children, she understands the challenges faced by many of the families FCA assists. This personal connection fuels her dedication and passion for volunteer work, making her efforts even more impactful.

”I enjoy knowing that what I did today has helped someone in some way,” she said.

Madalene's tale is a powerful reminder of how volunteering not only changes the lives of those served but also deeply enriches the volunteer's own life. As we celebrate her and all our volunteers this week, we're reminded of the profound impact that dedicated individuals can have on their communities. We are immensely grateful to Madalene and all our volunteers for their time, efforts, and the love they bring to their roles.

Get more families like Reyna’s back on their feet

Not long ago, Reyna’s family seemed to be falling apart.

Her abusive husband had abandoned them. He left Reyna, who speaks only Spanish, and her two children with no income, no child support, and no transportation. Reyna was struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over her children’s heads.

Yet that wasn’t even the worst of it. Reyna’s daughter, Berta, was hospitalized several times because of suicidal ideation stemming from her father’s abuse. At the same time, Reyna’s little boy, Josue, was battling a speech delay.

Reyna adores her children and was doing everything she could for them. Still, her family nearly fell through the cracks. They could have lost their home. Reyna could have lost her daughter.

Through your support of Family & Children’s Agency (FCA), you made sure Reyna had the resources she needed to carry her family through the most difficult time of their lives.

We all need a helping hand sometimes. Your Mother’s Day gift lets mothers, families, and other neighbors know they’re never alone, no matter what they’re going through.

Because of friends like you, FCA was ready to help when the Department of Children and Families connected Reyna’s family to us for assistance. Things began to get better when an FCA home visitor met with Reyna. Soon, she received support in securing employment, finding a stable home, and accessing therapy. And that’s not all.

FCA delivered grocery boxes that were the family’s only source of food. With your help, we also provided diapers for Josue and linked him to community resources for his speech delay. Plus, Berta received counseling through FCA’s In-Home Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Services (IICAPS) and was enrolled in the ASPIRE after-school program.

Today, the family is in a much better place.

Through FCA, Reyna learned about child development so she could support Josue and Berta’s growth. Both children are thriving! Josue entered kindergarten with improved speech and language skills, and Berta’s emotional stability has increased. The whole family is benefitting from the support network they’ve created by attending FCA workshops and other activities.

Because of the hand-up you gave her when she needed it most, Reyna is now self-sufficient, successfully supporting her happy, healthy family.

Please, share your compassion and kindness with more mothers working to lead their families through unimaginable challenges. Rush your Mother’s Day gift today.

With deep gratitude,

Robert F. Cashel
President & CEO

P.S.      Through FCA, you provide an invaluable safety net for every member of our community. You support behavioral and mental health services, foster care, after-school programs, parenting education, homeless support services, family counseling, senior services, and much more. Please be as generous as you can today.

Social Work Month: Kannika

As we conclude our series of features for National Professional Social Work Month, it is with great pleasure that we introduce Kannika, a distinguished member of the Family & Children’s Agency (FCA) team.

Kannika started her journey with FCA as a Caregiver Support Worker within the Family Support department. In this capacity, she provided invaluable in-home services, including training and crisis intervention to kinship, foster, and pre-adoptive families. After more than four years in that role, Kannika transitioned to the Development team as the Coordinator of Grants and Program Development. Approaching her first anniversary in this role, she plays a crucial part in achieving FCA’s fundraising objectives by collaborating with foundations to secure grant funding. Additionally, Kannika continues to make a direct impact on clients as a part-time clinician in FCA’s Behavioral Health program.

Kannika’s journey into social work was propelled by her innate desire to help others, having explored various fields such as teaching, domestic violence recovery, and medicine before finding her calling in social work.

“I’ve seen clients face some of some of the most horrific things happening in their lives. I am honored I got to learn from them and help them lean into their strengths,” she said.

Motivated by a desire to effect change on a larger scale, Kannika’s move to the Development team reflects her commitment to supporting the Agency’s mission.

“I want to support the Agency so they can support the community,” she said. “The environment and energy feels right to me. I’ve never questioned my worth at this agency. FCA is so good at investing in their staff – I feel like I’ve been set up for success.”

Kannika’s dedication and multifaceted contributions underscore the essential role of social workers within FCA and the broader community.

“Social workers are so versatile,” she said. “I feel lucky that I went into clinical social work.”

We extend our heartfelt appreciation to Kannika for her unwavering dedication and to all our social workers for their vital contributions to FCA. Thank you, Kannika!

Social Work Month: Calondra

As we celebrate National Professional Social Work Month we are highlighting some of our social work staff. Today, meet Calondra!

Calondra is a Functional Family Therapist in the Foster Care department. Like many of FCA’s employees, she started working with the agency as an intern and has now been a full-time  staff member for two years.

Every day, Calondra works with foster families, youth in the foster care system, and biological families to help youth meet their goals and achieve permanency. Sometimes that can mean being adopted, reuniting with biological families, or becoming stable and independent adults. Calondra said the best part of her job is making a meaningful impression on those she serves.

“FCA's work is integral for the community because of its long-lasting impact on our families' lives. Working in foster care, I have witnessed the direct impact that the FCA has showcased. FCA gives our families a second chance to rewrite their story and make it into what they dream it to be,” she said.

Calondra first entered the field of social work due to her love of kids. She explored many career options that would allow her to work with youth, from daycare worker to therapist, but found social work to be the right fit.

One case she remembers illustrates the impact of her work. Her clients were two sisters who had an instant dislike for Calondra. Entering the foster care system can be traumatic, and the girls struggled to see Calondra in a good light. One girl lashed out with physical and verbal aggression, the other was soft-spoken and reserved.

“But now it's a whole different thing,” she said.

After working with Calondra, the oldest sister is more open, and even gives hugs. The younger is less aggressive and expresses herself in a healthier way.

“Being a social worker is not easy, but the end goal is definitely rewarding,” she said. “My goal is to make an impact on younger kids because essentially they're our future, and the only way to fix the future is to start with the present and get them to process and move through their past.”

Thank you, Calondra, for your important work at FCA!

Press Release: Family & Children’s Agency Announces Mother’s Day Tea at New Venue to Celebrate Extraordinary Women and Support Vital Community Programs


Darien, CT – Family & Children’s Agency (FCA) is thrilled to announce the Mother’s Day Tea, a cherished gathering to celebrate extraordinary women and raise funds for crucial community support programs. This year, the event will be held at the newly renovated DCA Meadowlands in Darien on Thursday, April 25, 2024, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Mother’s Day Tea is a tradition that honors the spirit of giving and celebrates the monumental impact of mothers and extraordinary women in our lives. This year, we are excited to introduce a shopping boutique featuring local vendors, offering attendees the perfect opportunity to find unique Mother’s Day gifts. 10% of purchases at the boutique will directly benefit FCA, supporting programs that impact the lives of children, families, adults, and seniors in need.

The proceeds from this year’s event will support memorial funds for Charlotte Taverna and Allison Haupt, two remarkable volunteers whose dedication and love have left an indelible mark on our agency. Their legacy of compassion continues to inspire our work.

The Mother’s Day Tea will feature light bites, refreshments, a program presentation, and exclusive early access to the shopping boutique from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the boutique remaining open until 3 p.m. Those who are unable to join us for the program are welcome to purchase Shopper’s Tickets and visit the boutique from 1-3 p.m. This event offers a unique opportunity to honor the women in our lives while making a tangible difference in the community.

Tickets are now available for purchase. We invite you to join us for this special event and make a difference in the lives of many, honor the legacy of extraordinary women like Charlotte Taverna and Allison Haupt, and ensure that FCA continues to be a pillar of support for our neighbors.

For more information on purchasing tickets and supporting Family & Children’s Agency, please visit www.FamilyAndChildrensAgency.org.

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Family & Children’s Agency is a leading nonprofit human services organization with programs for community members of all ages, including behavioral and mental health, addiction recovery services, after-school programs, parenting education, homeless services, family counseling, specialized foster care, senior services, and more. www.FamilyandChildrensAgency.org  

2024 Spring Minks to Sinks Tag Sale

Consigning/Donating: April 30 - May 2
Sale: May 4 - 6

Minks to Sinks is the ultimate treasure hunt where you can discover amazing deals on pre-loved items for your home, wardrobe, and more! From chic clothing to stylish home decor, you’ll find it all under one roof. All proceeds benefit FCA and help neighbors right here in our community.

Do you have gently used items that could use a new home? Don’t toss them! Donate or consign them with us, and let someone else fall in love with your stuff!

Let’s make this the most memorable Minks to Sinks yet! Join us for a day of shopping, laughter, and awesome finds. Who knows, you might just stumble upon your next favorite thing!

More info