Community Fund of Darien Awards $537,000 to Various Darien and Area Nonprofits


Photo from the Community Fund of Darien

Jessica Welt, Child Guidance Center executive director; Lisa Haas, grants director for TCF; and Katrina Dorsey, director of development at Child Guidance Center Southern CT

Thanks to the generous support of local donors, this year the Community Fund of Darien (TCF) is awarding $537,000 in large grants to 22 local nonprofit organizations.

More than $30,000 in other grants was previously allocated this year in small grants and grants awarded by the Youth Community Fund high school service group.

— an announcement from the Community Fund of Darien

The Community Fund hosted its annual Grants Award breakfast on July 11 for local nonprofit leaders and Community Fund grant review volunteers at the Darien Community Association.

  • Large grants were awarded to the following agencies: Abilis, AmeriCares Free Clinics, Building One Community, Carver Center, Child Guidance Center of Mid-Fairfield County, Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut, Children’s Learning Centers, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Domus, ElderHouse, Family & Children’s Agency, Family Centers, Inspirica, Kids in Crisis, Laurel House, Liberation Programs, New Covenant Center, Open Doors, Pacific House, Person-to-Person, Rowan Center, STAR Lighting the Way.
  • In addition to large grants, $21,500 in small grants were given to seven local organizations (CT Food Bank, Filling in the Blanks, Future Five, Human Service Council, Stamford Public Education Fund, At Home Darien and Stamford Cradle to Career.) $10,000 in Touch-a-Life funds is also reserved for Darien residents who have emergency needs.

To qualify for a grant, local non-profit organizations, who are invited to apply, must first submit detailed grant applications.

Carver Center Community Fund of Darien

Photo from the Community Fund of Darien

From left: Janet King, TCF executive director; Novelette Peterkin, Carver Center CEO; and Jane Yezzi Grants, Executive Committee member, TCF.

A TCF grant review panel comprised of more than 60 Darien volunteers then reviews the applications and performs a site visit at each organization before presenting funding recommendations, ensuring that donors’ contributions are responsibly invested for the greatest effectiveness and impact.

Through its Youth Community Fund, TCF empowers high school students to learn the value of philanthropy through volunteering with local nonprofit organizations and conduct their own youth grant review that allocated over $10,000 this year.

Recent grants have funded summer camp scholarships , after-school youth programs, food pantries and employment programs.. TCF’s Middle School student group, Youth Give Back, also visits local nonprofits to learn about human service needs.

Community Fund of Darien grant breakfast

From left: Elsi Lyons, director of development and events; Chris Tate, Pacific House Board member; Janet King, executive director of TCF; Justin Maccarone, Pacific House Board member and TCF grant panelist; Rafael Pagan, executive director; and Lisa Haas, grants director at TCF

For 68 years, The Community Fund of Darien’s intelligent philanthropy has addressed the needs of the most vulnerable in our community by investing in critical and effective programs in Darien, Stamford and Norwalk.

Funding goals focus on basic needs (food, housing, and emergency financial assistance), youth success, and self-sufficiency. In addition to grants, The Community Fund is the convener of local community initiatives such as the Thriving Youth Task

Force which promotes positive youth development. Likewise, the Human Service Planning Council brings together nonprofit, governmental, and education leaders to discuss and develop plans to address social service needs in Darien.

Photo from the Community Fund of Darien

Jessica Welt, Child Guidance Center executive director; Lisa Haas, grants director for TCF; and Katrina Dorsey, director of development at Child Guidance Center Southern CT

The Community Fund of Darien created the 06820/Our Darien campaign which addresses teen binge drinking. In addition, TCF organizes a group of high school students to address substance abuse and mental health by encouraging healthy choices

The Community Fund of Darien’s mission is made possible with the help of over 800 individual and local business donors and 100 volunteers who contribute to make a difference in our community.

For more information, please contact The Community Fund of Darien office at 203-655-8775 or visit the website.

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How to Slow Down Traffic in Residential Neighborhoods: Cameron on Transportation

Jim Cameron Jim Cameron 8-2-16

Jim Cameron

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You’ve seen the signs in many neighborhoods, “Drive like your kids lived here” or “Slow down in town.” They’re probably as effective as bumper stickers that say “Drive now, Text later,” in other words, not very.

Jim Cameron 8-2-16

Jim Cameron

Jim Cameron (contributed photo)

In our own neighborhoods we want everyone to chill behind the wheel. But when we are driving in someone else’s area, it’s pedal to the metal, the kids be damned. When the major roads are jammed, quicker shortcuts through the back roads seem attractive, often at higher speeds than may be safe.

First of all, why is it that kids are playing in the streets anyway when they have perfectly good lawns and nearby parks? Do they think they’re living on the Lower East Side, playing stickball? C’mon parents! Get your kids off of the streets!

Recognizing that persuasion doesn’t seem to help, traffic engineers are finding ways to get folks to stay safe using what’s called “traffic calming,” forcing them to drive slower. And believe it or not, one of the first cities in the country to develop a master plan for traffic calming was Hartford. Stamford isn’t far behind.

You’ve probably seen these calming devices, but cursed their presence because they physically force you to slow down or risk damage to your car’s suspension.

Speed bumps: You can’t drive around them, so you better slow down driving over them.

Speed tables: Like speed bumps on steroids, these have a six foot long ramp up onto a ten foot flat table and down another six foot ramp.

Roundabouts: The guys at Mythbusters have proven that these traffic circles can move more cars through an intersection than a four-way stop, but they’re confusing enough that you’re going to slow down and keep wondering “Who has the right of way? (Answer: the car in the traffic circle). If it’s me, does that other guy know it? Will he slow down and let me in?”

Chicanes: Usually seen only on private streets in ritzy neighborhoods, these stubby looking sections of gates placed alternately on the right and left hand sides of the street make drivers slow down to zigzag down the street. Really annoying, but effective.

Bulb-outs or neck-downs: These make the sidewalk extend into car parking areas at corner crossings. That way folks who want to cr 2000 oss a street are more visible and already closer to the other side.

Crosswalks: Nothing empowers a pedestrian like stepping up to a crosswalk and stopping all oncoming traffic as they saunter across the road. This assumes, of course, that the drivers know they must yield and that there is sufficient signage to tell them so. Otherwise, it’s a messy scene.

But believe it or not, one of the most effective safety devices is also the most common.

Sidewalks: Still, it’s amazing how many suburban towns don’t offer sidewalks, leaving nervous pedestrians walking on the same roadways as cars. You’d think that would encourage motorists to slow down, but it doesn’t. Getting the walkers (and joggers) off the road and onto the sidewalks may not stop speeding but it does save lives.

None of these physical solutions to traffic safety is cheap, but they have proven effective in saving us from our own worst instincts as we rush to our destinations. So, slow down in town, and in the ‘burbs. What’s your hurry?


Jim Cameron has been a Darien resident for 25 years. He is the founder of the Commuter Action Group and also serves on the Darien RTM. The opinions expressed in this column are only his own. You can reach him at

Republished with permission of Hearst CT Media.


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