October 21st, 2019
FAIRFIELD—After being postponed for rain in June, the 2019 Catholic Charities AETNA Golf Classic teed off at The Patterson Club in Fairfield on September 30. This year’s event was even more successful than last year. The event hosted 23 foursomes and raised approximately $95,000 to benefit all of the programs served by Catholic Charities.
In addition to a joyous round of golf, the event hosts a wonderful post-golf banquet during which the agency honored Bobby Crabtree of Colonial Toyota with the Catholic Charities Service Award. Colonial Toyota has been a regular sponsor of the golf outing for at least years and Bobby Crabtree is an active supporter of the agency.
AETNA agreed to be the signature sponsor for next year’s event. This year’s event was also sponsored by Denis & Britta Nayden, Bank of America & Merrill Lynch, TD Bank, The Minton Family, Compass Diversified Holdings, Michael O’Rourke, St. Aloysius Church and Colonial Toyota.
(If you are interested in learning more about becoming involved in next year’s golf outing, please contact Amy Zajac at [email protected].)
Written by Amy Zajac
“Social Service Is An Expression Of Christian Love”
October 18th, 2019
Almost 400 guests and friends of Catholic Charities turned out for the benefit breakfast at The Amber Room Colonnade. The breakfast event raised more than $65,000 for the mental health and social services provided by Catholic Charities in the greater Danbury area.
Anthony Giobbi and MaryAnn Murtha served as co-chairs of the event. Msgr. Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown, delivered the invocation and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton expressed words of gratitude for those who support the work of Catholic Charities.
In his featured talk, Dr. Murphy, who leads a new health system with seven hospitals serving 1.5 million people in Connecticut and New York, said social services provided by Catholic Charities and other organizations play a critical role in the overall health and wellbeing of families.
He noted that poverty, mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness, food insecurity and lack of transportation drive up healthcare costs and lead to chronic medical conditions.
“Housing, assistance, counseling, case management, homeless outreach and immigration services are precisely the kinds of service that we know are crucial to improving the health of a community,” Dr. Murphy said
He added that Catholic Charities is part of a long tradition of standing up for the poor and the immigrants that began to arrive in this country in the 19th century.
“Most of us are the children or grandchildren of immigrants and Danbury has long been home to wave after wave of immigrant families. It is the most diverse city in Connecticut and the eleventh most diverse city in the nation with 31 percent of its residents being foreign born,” he said.
He cited the annual report of the Association for Improving Conditions of the Poor that referred to the children of Irish Catholic immigrants as “accumulated poor.”
“The Children’s Aid Society began breaking up Irish families by removing tens of thousands of children from their homes. It was around this time that Catholic child-caring institutions emerged and Catholics learned to leverage their position in charity to win a voice in local, state and national policy making.
He said Catholic Charities not only provides services but it staff are “advocates and justice workers” for the poor, regardless of their faith.
Dr. Murphy, a Fordham University graduate, said that the United States spends 20 percent of its GDP on healthcare but only 10 percent on social services, less than half of other western nations. The gap between the two has led to repeat emergency room and hospital visits, which are costly and a poor use of resources.
“Recent studies have demonstrated the critical relationship between the two. The less a country spends on social services the poorer the outcomes in terms of life expectance and infant mortality. These are areas where we’re losing ground,” he said.
He said the U.S. is number 28 out of 34 countries for low birth rate, and 26 out of 34 developed countries in terms of life expectancy.
“The average life expectance of 78.6 has fallen three years in a row. The last time that happened was 1915 to 1918,” he said.
“The leaders of Catholic Charities know and face the same reality they confronted 150 years ago—private charity alone will not met the needs of the millions,” he said, adding that only shared public and private responsibility and an acceptance that the poor “belong to all of us” will address the challenge of poverty in America.
Dr. Murphy completed his talk by saying “Jesus Christ was born poor, lived poor and died poor. The Church cannot be any different,” he said
Nuvance Health includes Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, Norwalk Hospital and Sharon Hospital in Connecticut and Northern Dutchess Hospital, Putnam Hospital Center and Vassar Brothers Medical Center in New York—plus multiple primary and specialty care physician practice location.
Catholic Charities of Northern Fairfield County’s program include the Behavioral Health Clinic located at 405 Main Street in Danbury, The Family Loan Program to cover auto, rental and childcare expenses, the Morning Glory Breakfast Program located at Dorothy Day Hospitality House at 15 Spring Street, the Homeless Outreach Team, Community Support and Recovery Pathways, 24 Grassy Plain Street, Bethel and New Heights psychosocial recovery programming for adult with mental illness, 64 West Street, Danbury.
(For more information contact Catholic Charities of Northern Fairfield County at 203.743.4412 or online at www.ccfairfield.org.)
As seen on the DOB, Fairfield County Catholic website.
Bishop Frank Caggiano to be Featured Guest Speaker at Norwalk Breakfast
September 27th, 2019
NORWALK— On Friday, December 6, Catholic Charities will hold its 26th Annual Norwalk Breakfast at Shorehaven Golf Club from 7:30-9:30 am. The Norwalk Breakfast is a Christmas event that is held each year to raise the critical funds to support the programs provided in Norwalk—Room to Grow Preschool and Behavioral Health Services. This holiday fundraiser features a spectacular buffet and a raffle. But the highlight of this year’s event is celebrity guest speaker The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport.
Full details on the event, as well as registration for tickets and tables can be found at www.ccfairfield.org/event/2019-norwalk-celebrity-breakfast. Those interested in attending the event are encouraged to register early. Seating is limited and it is anticipated that the event, which usually hosts a sell-out crowd, will reach capacity even faster with Bishop Caggiano as the guest speaker.
Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, Inc. is one of the largest private social service providers in Connecticut. The agency puts faith into action by providing a wide variety of services to over 10,000 individuals in Fairfield County, Connecticut annually. In Norwalk, services are provide through Room to Grow preschool and Behavioral Health Services. RTG, a state licensed and nationally accredited preschool program, provides high quality care and education for children ages 3 to 5 years old and recently graduated its largest class to date – 58 students in total. Students attending the program come from low-income families residing in the City of Norwalk. The program capacity is 132 children and is funded through a school readiness grant. However, additional funding is still needed and the Norwalk Breakfast helps support the services the program provides.
Catholic Charities also offers Behavioral Health Services in Norwalk. While the program does take insurance, the agency has been a leader in providing affordable and accessible mental health services to economically disadvantaged individuals and families for over fifty years and is one of the only providers of subsidized mental health services in the region. Clinic staff consists of skilled master level and licensed clinicians with training in various mental health disciplines, including counseling, clinical social work, medication management and marriage and family therapy. Now more than ever, affordable mental health services are vital for the community of Norwalk.
(For more information on the Norwalk Breakfast, please go to www.ccfairfield.org/event/2019-norwalk-celebrity-breakfast or contact Amy Zajac at [email protected].)
(To learn more about the services provided by Catholic Charities, including Room to Grow Preschool and Behavioral Health Services, visit their webpage at www.ccfairfield.org.)
John Gutman to Speak at New Canaan Men’s Club
September 26th, 2019
John Gutman, Executive Director of New Covenant Center, the largest soup kitchen and food pantry in lower Fairfield County will address the New Canaan Men’s Club in Morrill Hall at St. Mark’s Church, Friday, September 27th at 10:30 A.M. following the 10 A.M. members only weekly business meeting. Mr. Gutman’s talk, More Than a Hunger Problem, will explain that helping someone to reach their full potential and regain their dignity and self-respect is the ultimate goal.
In October 1978, New Covenant Center served its first meal from the basement of a little building at 66 West Main Street in Stamford. Today it is open 365 days a year, providing three meals daily and serving 600,000 nutritious meals annually. Additional services such as personal hygiene, life coaching, job skills and medical services are also provided.
Over the the past four and a half years, John has been responsible for operations at New Covenant Center while serving as Executive Director. Prior to that he spent thirty years in business development, marketing and sales for such brands as NBC, Time Warner, the National Basketball Association and King Broadcasting. He grew up in the White Plains area, received his magazine journalism degree from Syracuse University, has two young adult boys, and he lives in Norwalk.
The New Canaan Men’s Club has openings for new members 55 and over. Anyone interested is invited to be a guest at the meeting. For more info contact: Frank Haines at 203.984.2602, www.NewCanaanMensClub.org
Room to Grow Celebrates Summer Graduation
September 9th, 2019
The clouds cleared and the rain subsided for the Room to Grow graduating class of 2019. This year Room to Grow hosted its largest graduating class yet – 58 in total. The Norwalk preschool first started holding graduation ceremonies in 1995, welcoming parents and relatives to witness the milestone of children exiting preschool and entering kindergarten.
This year’s event was complete with graduation caps to match the child’s classroom theme color, entertainment from the school’s music teacher Tom Weber, and a post- graduation lunch. Weber, a resident of Fairfield, strummed his guitar and sang out the names of each graduate as they walked up to receive their diploma.
The event was even attended by Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling and his wife Lucia. Mrs. Rilling is an active member of the Room to Grow advisory council. She attends graduation each year and this year welcomed the families in Spanish.
Prior to the event, the teachers were busy preparing the students for the ceremony. In one classroom, teacher Caitlin Dudek was helping to put caps on students. While Caitlin is a new teacher at Room to Grow, she is very familiar with its concept. Caitlin graduated from the program in 1998. “I remember when this was me,” said Dudek. “It doesn’t seem that long ago, but I know it is.” Once a student of the program, Dudek is now a teacher molding the young minds at the center.
Dudek is not the only former student to return to the center. Tatianna Santiago was a student at Room to Grow 24 years ago. Tatianna fondly remembers her time at Room to Grow, saying, “My grandmother would bring me here ever morning and Nancy would be here to greet me. It was always a happy place and I had such happy memories of being here. That is why I wanted my daughter to come here.” She returned to Room to Grow to enroll her daughter Gianna Kitt. Tatianna and her grandmother Natalia Santiago proudly celebrated Gianna’s graduation from Room to Grow.
The fun continued after the ceremony with every graduate receiving a backpack loaded with supplies to send them off to kindergarten fully equipped for success. Catholic Charities was able to provide the students with these backpacks through their Operation Backpack Project. The agency reached out to the community via social media and several local donors helped to fulfill the need. Backpacks were donated by Barbara and Peter Ripp of Greenwich. The Ripp’s who have been longtime donors of Catholic Charities heard about the project immediately contacted the agency asking “what can we provide to help the students at Room to Grow.”
Another source of backpacks came from the Law Office of Robin P. Keller in Norwalk. Robin Keller also learned of the search for backpacks on social media and gathered her team to assist with the project. This was orchestrated by her legal administrative assistant Jennifer Steiner who helped to organize the supplies donated to go in the backpacks and purchased any additional fillers that the firm felt was needed. She was assisted by local resident Danny McCauley who volunteered to help stuff the backpacks.
Additional backpacks were distributed at the Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport and New Covenant Center in Stamford through their food pantries. Over 150 backpacks made their way to help students start off the school year with the supplies needed for success.
For more information on Room to Grow Preschool visit their webpage at https://www.ccfairfield.org/programs/room-to-grow-preschool/.
Written by Amy Zajac