Corbin Cares raises $100K for Darien's essential workers

DARIEN — Combined philanthropic effort Corbin Cares has raised over $100,000 for essential workers.

This is the second phase of Corbin Cares, which totaled contributions at $104,785, including $25,000 from The Darien Foundation, a $10,000 pledge from People’s Bank, $5,000 from Darien Lions Club, $1,000 pledge from Day Pitney law firm, and $500 from The Darien Sport Shop.

There have been an additional 200 individual donors, with a total of 350 total donations.

The first phase of Corbin Cares was launched in March, and in partnership with local eateries, provided meals to front-line care workers, Darien seniors, local shelters and local food-insecure families.

The program was extended through the beginning of July after it was announced in May it had delivered more than 4,000 meals to those in need.

Darien restaurants and caterers, much like those in the state and the nation, have continued to struggle with COVID-19 restrictions on indoor dining. The town has allowed many eateries to open extended tent dining outdoors. But the cold weather has caused some concerns about how practical that might be going forward.

The Darien Foundation and Corbin Cares, an initiative of The Corbin District, have re-partnered for this second phase with the focus on feeding essential workers. The program kicked off in October.

Corbin Cares II funded locally sourced family meals for essential workers, including EMS Post 53, the Darien Police Department, the town’s volunteer fire departments, municipal employees as well as Darien Public Schools teachers and staff.

Funds raised from this initiative will also position Corbin Cares to provide meals for other Darien residents and neighbors as the need arises during the winter months.

Genovese and partner Penny Glassmeyer came up with the original idea behind Corbin Cares in the spring.

Like the first phase, meals will be sourced from local businesses such as Ten Twenty Post, Four Forks, Bodega Taco Bar, Michael Joseph Catering and Parlor Pizza.

Greg Habay, who started the "Dads in Darien” group that helped mobilize phase two of Corbin Cares by collaborating with Genovese, said he was amazed at the large number of people who contributed.

“This effort and recognition clearly benefits Darien residents, but also on a broader level — many who travel, some at a great distance, to our town for work — hence supporting those living across Fairfield County and beyond,” Habay said.

Ward Glassmeyer, chairman of the The Darien Foundation board, said “it has been inspiring to be a part of the Corbin Cares initiative and see the community come together to support our valued essential workers in Darien.”

“From the Front Steps photographers to the Darien Lions Club to the hundreds of individual donations and the generous support of People's United Bank, it has been an uplifting collective effort,” he said.

Glassmeyer said the group was pleased to be working with local restaurants that have been a lifeline to the community during these difficult months.

The initiative will not only benefit those on the receiving end of the meals. The project provides revenue to local restaurants and businesses that continue to be impacted by the pandemic.

“Ten Twenty Post is committed to continuing our relationship with this incredible community of Darien in all ways possible,” owner David Nelson said in the fall.

Nelson said the restaurant team is grateful for all of the opportunities provided by The Darien Foundation and Corbin Cares to serve community members who are unable to come through the doors and “to share a bit of the warmth that we feel daily at Ten Twenty Post.”

“Whether we are feeding our community’s need for sustenance with food, or offering hospitality, we are so incredibly grateful to have weathered the past to get to a better future,” Nelson said.

Lisa Elwell, a Darien resident who joined Baywater in 2015, was the quarterback who managed the logistics of coordinating the preparation and delivery of nearly 12,000 meals over the first months of the COVID-19 crisis. She was named one of the Darien Chamber of Commerce’s employees of the year for her efforts.

Darien teachers, part of this essential worker group have had to adapt to changes within the scope of the pandemic, with schools going all remote the week before Christmas. Classes are expected to return to the previous program, with kindergarten through fifth grade in-person, and students on the middle and high school level as hybrid beginning Monday.

David Dineen, chairman of the Board of Education, said the board extended a heartfelt thanks for the efforts in recognizing Darien’s essential “front-line workers.”

He said the board was grateful that those workers include the Darien public school teachers and staff. He also thanked board members Tara Ochman and Katie Stein for bringing the program forward to the Board of Ed.

“The response truly reflects the community spirit by supporting local businesses and restaurants in Darien,” he said.

David Genovese described the response of the community to the idea for this second initiative by Corbin Cares as “heartwarming.”

“My team and I are so grateful for having been positioned to organize this effort to say thank you, as a community, to Darien’s essential workers.”

Genovese described the partnerships with The Darien Foundation as two of the highlights of 2020 for himself and his team.

“To those who have worked so hard to teach our children, keep us safe and keep Darien functioning through the course of the pandemic, we hope that you enjoy a wonderful meal with family or friends prepared by one Darien’s restaurants and caterers,” he said.

“As the year comes to a close, we just wanted to say how thankful we are for all that you have done to support us," Genovese said.

Though the fundraising goal for Corbin Cares 2 has been met, further donations via a link on The Darien Foundation’s website will be used toward the future provision of meals for essential workers and those with food insecurity. One hundred percent of those contributions will go to to Corbin Cares.