A dip for the Depot: A chilly swim raises funds for Darien's youth center

DARIEN — Two dozen supporters of the Darien Depot took to the cold water Sunday morning to support their beloved youth center.

After an abrupt cancellation last year due to COVID-19, the Wee Burn Beach Club played host to the first official Depot Dip last weekend.

“It’s something fun and different for the community,” said Colby Dineen, 16, who came up with the idea for the event and chaired its organization.

Several local businesses pledged their support for making it happen, donating funds and prize items, including Barrett Bookstore, Darien Sport Shop, Four Forks, Inner Light Wellness, Michael Josephs Catering, Spa Grace, Ten Twenty Post, and the Mayhew Family.

“I think it’s wonderful for the kids,” Chichi Mayhew, a longtime Darien resident, said of the Depot. “They have a place to go with activities.”

Prizes were awarded to participants who paid an entrance fee and then took off into the cold Long Island Sound waters in a dunk for charity.

“The Depot hasn’t done anything like this before,” said Grace Stuart, 17, a co-chairman for the event. “Colby did a really good job.”

“I’m excited,” said Janice Marzano, program director of the Depot.

“This is sort of our trial run,” she said, noting that next year the center will bring a larger event to Weed Beach.

“We put a lot of work into it,” explained Katherine Caputo, 16, the other co-chairman, especially in light of last year’s dip being canceled a week after the COVID shut down.

“It was really devastating for us last year,” she said.

“I love the Depot more than anything in the world,” said Alicia Sillars, director of the Darien Youth Commission, “and I applaud their resiliency.”

“I think this is a great opportunity (for) a dress rehearsal,” she said, referencing next year’s planned event, “and we could not have asked for a better day.”

“Wee Burn is always very generous with events like this,” noted Duke Dineen, chairman of Darien’s Board of Education and a Depot parent who helped with putting it on.

“The Depot’s just such an incredible organization for our kids in town,” he said.

Much like many other non-profits, the Depot struggled with raising funds over the last year. It has resorted to unique approaches to fundraising, including its first ever dog show in November. In February, Palmer’s Market offered food packages for the Super Bowl with profits going entirely to the Depot.

The Depot is currently taking registrations for the Garden Club, a group for sixth grade girls that will help them “water their beauty within while equipping them with the tools to form healthy roots as they blossom.”

This session runs from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays from March 26 to May 28, and is free, but space is limited.

The Depot Youth Center offers a variety of events and activities throughout the year for sixth through twelfth grade students in a judgment-free and safe environment. All public, private, or homeschooled teens are invited to attend. In addition to the Student Governing Board, there are seven high school Depot empowerment clubs, four new middle school age Depot programs, several educational programs discussing such topics as vaping, consent, eating disorders, anxiety and substance abuse and numerous Depot activities and events ranging from dances to community projects. In all, The Depot reaches and serves hundreds of kids a year.

For more about Depot programming, visit dariendepot.com.