Community Soundings: Chamber awards, a grant and more

The Darien Chamber of Commerce recently gave out the annual DCC Awards at its annual Meeting, Awards and Holiday Cheer event. This annual event is a special night where the chamber celebrates not only its volunteers of the year, but also, employees of local businesses who are recognized by their employers.

This year the DCC Awards Committee selected two recipients:

Mark Rosenbloom, DCC chairman of the Board of Directors (AVP, First County Bank) as Volunteer of the Year;

WinePort of Darien (accepted by Tim Smith, the manager) as Business of the Year for the annual wine tasting and auction benefit involvement.

The “Employee of the Year” award was created last year to commemorate “Mr. Z,” Stephen Zangrillo, founder of the Darien Sport Shop, who built his business on excellent customer service, loyalty and trust. Chamber members are invited to nominate employees who represent those qualities and are devoted to the mission of the business they serve.

This year, the award was given to two individuals. One Employee of the Year Award went to Kate Roland, manager of Everything is Rosey, and the other award for a non-profit went to Rick Tymon, a driver for At Home in Darien.

Erica Jensen and Corrie Belardinelli from Helen Ainson Boutique received an Award of Appreciation for their years of volunteering on the SideWalk Sales Committee. Sylvan Learning Center and Gwynne Campbell received an Award of Appreciation for the 30 years of commitment Sylvan and Gwynne Campbell have given to the education of Darien’s youth.

It is the mission of the Darien Chamber of Commerce to work to improve the quality of life for the businesses and residents of Darien. The DCC is sponsored by Darien Rowayton Bank throughout the year.

On the dean’s list

Two Darien natives, John Bielstein and Mollie McMullan, achieved the dean's list at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. for the fall 2016 semester. Eligibility is based on a minimum course load of 12 hours and a quality grade-point average of 3.5 with no grade below a C.

A grant for P2P

The MBIA Foundation awarded a $20,000 grant to Person-to-Person’s scholarship program.

This year, MBIA shifted its funding to support programs that will have a lasting impact on the lives of those struggling to meet basic needs. As a result, Person-to-Person was awarded a $20,000 grant, which will fund four years of college for a Mentoring4Success Scholar.

The P2P Scholarship Program helps college students from low-income households bridge the gap between what each can earn and save and the amount needed to attend college.

The Mentoring4Success Scholarship is granted to incoming first-year students who work collaboratively with individual mentors throughout their four years, thereby maximizing the opportunities offered by a higher education. With 80 percent of the P2P Scholars graduating college overall, this particular scholarship has a 100 percent graduation rate.

Person-to-Person, Inc. was established in 1968 to provide low-income individuals and families living in lower Fairfield County with basic emergency services. A community-supported agency, Person-to-Person is committed to helping clients achieve self-sufficiency through practical help, advocacy, education and problem solving initiatives.

With offices in Darien and Norwalk, the Person-to-Person service area includes Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Westport and Wilton.

More information may be found at

Norseland adds Italian cheeses

Norseland will begin importing the Italian Parmissimo brand of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese starting in January, with Norseland already importing Jarlsberg cheese from its main office in Darien.

Parmareggio was founded in 1983 near the area of origin of Parmigiano Reggiano, with the Granterre dairy consortium acquiring a majority stake in 2004.

Norseland has its main U.S. office in Darien as a subsidiary of the Norway-based TINE dairy cooperative that includes more than 13,000 farms, with others brands including Couturier.

Country School students help out

Ninth grade students at New Canaan Country School collected and delivered “dove bags” of food for 52 local families on Dec. 16. The Dove Program, currently in its 48th year, is overseen and organized by Person-to-Person, a non-profit organization located in Darien and Norwalk.

The food was donated by students in grades 5-9, while the 45 ninth graders split into their blue and white teams to facilitate organization and distribution of the 150 bags, loading them into vans and then off-loading them at the food pantry.

In addition to the efforts of the ninth grade students, the sixth grade at the an independent day school spent Dec. 20 at Person-to-Person located in Darien, assisting with behind-the-scenes tasks such as re-stocking the food pantry and organizing clothing donations.

Opioid prevention slogan contest

A heroin epidemic is sweeping the country, and the state is no exception, with two people dying from an opioid overdose each day. The Darien Health Department is asking for local students’ help to get the word out about opioid abuse by participating in the Opioid Prevention Committee’s slogan contest.

The contest is open to middle and high school students in lower Fairfield county from Darien, New Canaan, Stamford and Greenwich. Students are encouraged to submit a 30-character slogan that is attention-grabbing and warns readers about the dangers of drug use.

Contest entries must be submitted to by 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 8, 2017. The winner of the contest will get $250 in prizes. Two honorable mention winners will get $100 in prizes.

All participants will be acknowledged on the contest website.

The winning slogan will be announced and a public award granted as a component of the Health Needs Assessment presentation by the Darien Health Department at the Darien Library on Jan. 19, 2017. The award will constitute the official launch of the campaign and the slogan will be the official “tagline” in the upcoming campaign and marketing materials to raise awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse.