News
Rugby Cup Raises Funds for Catholic Charities
July 26th, 2019

FAIRFIELD—Last year was the inaugural year for the Catholic Charities Rugby Cup. The event was the idea of Board Member Pete Maloney who was looking for a fun and unique way to raise money for the agency’s programs and gain awareness from a new population of supporters. Pete turned to Mike Pappa from Fairfield Yankees Rugby for assistance. Together they came up with the idea for a charity rugby tournament.

This year’s event was even more successful than last year. The Catholic Charity Rugby Cup took place on June 15 within Rafferty Stadium on the Fairfield University Campus. In addition to Fairfield University, the event was sponsored by the Friends of Fairfield Rugby Club, OKC Automation, O’Keefe Controls Co., Ryan Dental, Soccer & Rugby Imports, Grace O’Malley’s Fairfield and Sacred Heart University.

The end result of a long Round Robin Tournament produced the following victors: Fairfield U12, Westport PAL U14, Staple High School, New Haven won the Women’s Division, and Fairfield Yankees won the Men’s Division.

Director of Development Bob Donahue hopes this event will continue next year stating “The proceeds raised from this year’s event will benefit both the Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport and our Behavioral Health services.” The event raised $4,500.

(If you are interested in learning more about becoming involved in next year’s Rugby Cup, please contact Bob Donahue at [email protected])

Written by Amy Zajac as seen on the Fairfield County Catholic website.



Reducing Hunger Through Education
July 24th, 2019

BRIDGEPORT—Reducing hunger and providing nutrition to those in need is central to Catholic Charities’ mission. As the largest social service agency in the diocese, their soup kitchens serve those most in need, as Fairfield County ranks first nationally in income inequality when compared to the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas and where the cost of living is high.

Two of the agency’s largest initiatives are The Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport and New Covenant Center in Stamford. The soup kitchen at the Thomas Merton Center offers breakfast, lunch and a day shelter to about 300 people Monday through Saturday. Its Eat Smart Marketplace Food Pantry serves over 600 families from inner-city Bridgeport monthly. New Covenant Center operates the only soup kitchen in Stamford, open every day of the year and the city’s largest food pantry. The soup kitchen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner to approximately 350 daily. The food pantry serves over 525 households monthly. Last year, New Covenant Center served 3,600 unduplicated individuals and over 600,000 meals. There is an urgent need for these programs.

Recently, both programs were beneficiaries of a grant through Bank of America to introduce a food education initiative at their sites—the Food Insecurity Education Program. “As the relationships among diet, health and disease prevention have become clearer, nutrition education and the promotion of healthy eating behaviors and lifestyles continue to receive increased attention,” says Bill Colson, operations manager at the Thomas Merton Center. New Covenant Center Executive Director John Gutman states, “Many factors influence behavior and successful nutrition education uses a systematic approach and strategies that include a variety of activities to help make behavior changes. Effective nutrition education and promotion includes multiple components such as skill-building and integrated initiatives to build personal and community support. It helps consumers select and consume healthy and enjoyable foods by improving awareness and motivation.”

It is with this understanding that the Thomas Merton Center and New Covenant Center initiated the Food Insecurity Education Program (FIEP) to meet the nutritional awareness needs of their respective communities. This program focuses primarily on the school-age population and seeks guidance and development from local dieticians or nutritionists based out of local colleges such as Sacred Heart University, Fairfield U or the University of Bridgeport, with other options including professionals from the local public school systems, or local chefs or culinary teachers/students. The programs can also access additional partners to including secure food providers such as CT Food Bank, Food Rescue, Trader Joe’s, Reservoir Community Farm, Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County and Fairgate Farm. In addition to young families of both the Thomas Merton Center and New Covenant Center, the target audience is drawn from local parishes, schools and community youth groups, as well as students currently involved in volunteer opportunities at each site. Programming is based on monthly workshops or clinics designed to educate using both hands-on, and presentational, formats involving such topics as: learning the language of the kitchen, touring a food provider facility, preparing healthy and nutritious meals, and planning, planting and harvesting a working outdoor garden.

Each program worked separately at their individual sites during the grant cycle with their own cohort groups following the Food Insecurity Education Program. They prepared sustainable gardens, learned about healthy and nutritious meals, worked in the gardens and harvested vegetables. The groups ended the grant cycle preparing a healthy and nutritious dish from the vegetables the harvested and shared the meal during a celebration. Catholic Charities is looking forward to continuing its relationship with Bank of America and growing this program at both the Thomas Merton Center and New Covenant Center.

Written by Amy Zajac as seen on the Fairfield County Catholic website.



Special Donations Are What Keep Us Going
July 24th, 2019

In the month of June, the Ancient Order of the Hiberians held their annual golf outing fundraiser. The event was a success and the organization wanted to share the wealth. They decided to help out New Covenant Center. Recently, Patrick Keane (L) and Brian Quain visited the Stamford soup kitchen and presented New Covenant Center Executive Director John Gutman (R) with a $750 check from part of the proceeds of the recent golf event fundraiser. It is donations like these that help New Covenant Center continue their mission to fight hunger in lower Fairfield County.



Volleyball Tournament Spikes a Success for Room to Grow
July 1st, 2019

Norwalk – On June 22nd, Room to Grow and Catholic Charities were proud to participate in their first volleyball tournament. The 4th Annual Accurate Charity Volleyball Tournament was organized by Vinny and Maria Scicchitano. On a beautiful sunny day at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk,  12 co-ed teams competed all day. It was the first event of its kind for the agency and it raised over $4000 for Room to Grow Preschool. Check out some of the photos taken at the event posted below.



Catholic Charities’ Response to the Border Crisis and How You Can Help Those Most Vulnerable
June 27th, 2019

A father and son leaving the Humanitarian Respite Center to continue on with their journey.

BRIDGEPORT – For over a year, Catholic Charities of Fairfield County has kept a watchful eye on the crisis at the border. In July 2018, Al Barber made the decision to send agency representative Maria Palacios down to the Humanitarian Respite Center in Texas after receiving a call for help from their executive director, Sister Norma Pimentel.

But that is only a piece of what the agency continues to do to aid immigrants and refugees.

Catholic Charities’ Immigration Services works non-stop to help those currently within the United States, providing consultation on immigration related problems, and accredited representation at USCIS Immigration appointments. Family Directions, the agency’s adoption services program, has made itself available to International Social Services, offering to provide local services to those in need. And the agency continues to field calls and messages from local residents looking to help in any way possible.

Bishop Frank Caggiano’s recent statement has many people asking, “What can I do to help?”

Catholic Charities President Al Barber states, “This current situation is not new and continues to evolve. And according to our sources, it is also very real. We are monitoring it closely and doing our best to voice the needs of those most vulnerable – the children. It is important for those who want to get involved to do the same.”

Most recently, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, has issued a statement calling for compassion, commitment and engagement in response to the crisis, in particular the suffering of young people who have been separated from their parents and family members. He has urged all to get involved through prayer, advocacy and action.

If you want to help those impacted at the border Catholic Charities offers the following recommendations:

Toiletries for men and women (deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, etc)
Shoes (sandals, tennis shoes, loafers, etc) for men, women, children and infants of all sizes
Clothes (pants, t-shirts, blouses, underclothing, etc) for children and adults of all sizes
Baby supplies for toddlers (Pampers, baby wipes, baby bottles, etc.) 
Sealed snack food (granola bars, chips, peanut butter & cheese crackers, etc)
Gift cards to purchase food items
Phone cards
Plastic bags for families to pack sandwiches, snacks, and water for their trip.Send your donations to Humanitarian Respite Center
c/o Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley
700 N. Virgen de San Juan Blvd
San Juan Tx 78589
956-702-4088
Please specify that your donation is for the Humanitarian Center 
 
To Go to our Amazon Wish List, please click on the link below:

Amazon Wish List 

*When ready to purchase item(s) needed for the center, please select the Humanitarian Respite Center (In-Kind) address listed for the shipping.

For more information about Catholic Charities’ Immigration Services, visit www.ccfairfield.org/programs/immigration-services

Written by Amy Zajac, MSW



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