The First County Bank Foundation recently distributed $96,068.75 in grants to 12 Stamford-based nonprofits whose combined mission is to work with families in need of housing, food, education and health services, as well as those that provide services to older adults, and those that promote volunteerism.

"These are just some of the important organizations in town helping families cope during these difficult times," First County Bank Foundation Vice President Katherine Harris said. "We have donated to these organizations in the past and have seen the positive results of their hard work. We know the grants will help these agencies continue to provide for our neighbors in lower Fairfield County."

Established in 2001 in honor of the bank's 150th anniversary, the First County Bank Foundation was created to distribute funds annually to nonprofit organizations that support community and economic development for children and families. As a mutual bank with no shareholders, First County Bank considers contributions made by the foundation a means of paying dividends back to the local communities it serves. Through 2010, the foundation has been able to award 426 grants totaling more than $4 million to various community organizations.

To be eligible for First County Bank Foundation grants, organizations must have nonprofit tax exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; be located in Stamford, Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk or Westport; have community support; address community needs; have measurable outcomes; and demonstrate fiscal and administrative responsibility. Special consideration is given to those agencies or programs benefiting low to moderate income populations.

The following organizations received grants from First County Bank Foundation:

Shelter for the Homeless - $10,000 - Shelter for the Homeless has grown into a premier social services and human development agency that both serves and advocates for the homeless in this area. It is the only regional shelter in the four-town area with overnight emergency beds for men and a drop-in day program for men and women. The grant is being used to upgrade the computer and security systems.

SoundWaters - $10,000 - The mission of SoundWaters is to educate children and adults about the wonders and beauty of Long Island Sound and its watershed. The grant will support 2012's summer camp scholarship program.

St. John's Episcopal Church - $2,500 - The grant is being used to purchase and install an elevator that will make the newly renovated facilities accessible to people with disabilities.

More Information

Fact box

St. Luke's LifeWorks - $7,500 - St. Luke's LifeWorks helps individuals and families, who are affected by homelessness, HIV/AIDS, and mental illness, learn to make their lives work better. It provides programs for life-long learning, emergency and supportive housing, and other needed direct aid. Foundation funds will be used for the New Beginnings Family Program, providing shelter and transitional housing, and supportive services.

Stamford Emergency Medical Services Inc. - $13,068.75 Stamford Emergency Medical Services provides pre-hospital emergency care and transport to the citizens and guests of Stamford, Conn. The grant money is being used to purchase a LUCAS 2 chest compression system, a resuscitation platform that has the power to transform the way CPR is performed.

Stamford Partnership - $10,000 - The Stamford Partnership is a public/private partnership working to enhance the quality of life for those who live and/or work in Stamford. Grant money is being applied to the Neighbors Link Stamford Outreach Program to operate a community center and offer services that are specifically geared to recently arrived immigrant families.

Stamford Senior Center - $5,000 - Its mission is to provide programming that will help the City of Stamford's independent senior adults, 50 years and older, and taxpayers/residents in Stamford, be active, healthy, and contributing members of the community, by providing them with physical exercise, intellectual challenges, socialization, entertainment and information. Grant money will be used within the new case management program for low income Hispanic seniors.

Starfish Connection - $5,000 - The Starfish Connection Inc. is a 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is to support academically talented students from low income families reach their potential and their dreams of attending college. Grant money is being used in various enrichment programs.

The Center for Sexual Assault, Crisis Counseling and Education - $5,000 - Serving the eight towns of lower Fairfield County since 1979, The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education provides free, 24-hour confidential help to men, women and children who have experienced sexual assault. Grant money is being used to continue services to the community.

United Way of Western Connecticut in Stamford - $15,000 - To have the most effective long-term impact in Stamford, United Way invests in local programs making a measurable difference, and convenes the community to bring action to local issues. Grant money is being used for Stamford-based programs.

Volunteer Center of Southwestern Fairfield County - $3,000 - The Volunteer Center of Southwestern Fairfield County serves nonprofit organizations, employers and individuals by coordinating their talents and resources, to build the capacity of agencies with the goal of enhancing the quality of life in neighboring communities through volunteerism. Grant money will be used for volunteer management training services.

Yerwood Center - $10,000 - The Yerwood Center is a community resource center providing educational and personal development opportunities to Stamford's diverse community. Grant money is being used for youth development for at-risk children and teens with a focus on academic enrichment for underperforming elementary and middle school children, and college and career preparation for teens.