Thursday: Darien nonprofits participate in Giving Day
The countdown will soon begin
Beginning at 12 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, Fairfield County’s Giving Day will last 24 hours.
Fairfield County’s Giving Day is a one-day fund-raising marathon in which interested donors are encouraged to give to the nonprofits they choose through online donations.
This is the sixth year of Giving Day. It’s sponsored by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation in Norwalk, a public charity that works to improve people’s lives.
Several nonprofit organizations in Darien are participating in Giving Day this year, including the Darien YMCA, Person-to-Person, the Darien Youth Center Depot and the YWCA Darien/Norwalk.
Giving Day donations to the Darien YMCA will support the Y’s Send a Kid to Camp Campaign.
Amy Kiser, marketing and communications director at the Darien YMCA, said summer camp is a “wonderful” part of childhood.
She wants to make it possible for all children, no matter what their family’s income, to greatly benefit from a summer camp experience.
Children who attend the Darien YMCA summer camp come from Norwalk and Stamford, as well as Darien.
The camp, which is for children from preschool through middle school, offers several programs including a swim and sail camp for children with special needs and a gymnastics camp for girls.
“Children who can’t afford to go to camp end up staying at home,” Kiser said. She added that these children may not have the opportunity to learn new skills they would learn at camp, such as swimming, sailing, and paddle board.
“At summer camp, they can make friends and feel a sense of belonging,” Kiser said. “It’s a powerful experience.”
In addition, the Darien YMCA works to “instill good values in our campers, such as sportsmanship, and a sense of responsibility, confidence, and increased self esteem,” Kiser said.
She added that parents have said that “their child was a totally different person after going to a summer camp at the Y.”
This Giving Day, Person-to-Person will be focusing on growing its emergency assistance fund.
“That’s the heart and soul of our mission,” said Tracey Cramer, chief philanthropy officer. “It’s what we do day in and day out to support the families in our community that are moving from their crisis situation to mobility.”
Person-to-Person is a basic needs agency that provides food, clothing, financial assistance, and other services for the working poor and low-income families.
Cramer said that while Person-to-Person mainly serves the seven cities in lower Fairfield County, which are Stamford, Darien, Norwalk, Wilton, Weston, New Canaan and Westport, “we are open and available to help all families in need in the county.”
Many families Person-to-Person serves are living paycheck to paycheck. “Our goal is to help when there is a crisis and they aren’t able to use the financial resources they have to help them,” she said.
Crisis situations can include when a car breaks down, someone loses a lose job, or when someone has a medical issue, and a family isn’t able to pay its bills.
“We are the stopgap measure to get them through the crisis so they can get onto their path of financial stability,” Cramer said.
Depot, Darien Youth Center
Funds raised by Giving Day for the Depot will go toward programming, capital projects, staff, and college scholarships.
“The Depot programming has a focus on mental health awareness,” said Kesti Aysseh, executive director of development.
Speakers who come to the Depot address topics, such as substance abuse, depression, anxiety, stress management, and screen addiction.
Programs at the Depot include Band Night, Friday Night Friends, Cops N’ Kids Adventures, and Students Against Destructive Decisions.
In regard to capital projects, the Depot building costs about $90,000 a year to maintain, and the Depot itself costs $345,000 a year to run.
Regarding staff, the Depot has one full-time employee, one part-time employee, an office manager and three staff members.
The Depot currently offers two $2,500 college scholarships to graduating seniors, one need-based and one merit based.
Mental illness cuts across all economic lines, Aysseh said.
“Teenagers raised in more affluent communities might seemingly have less to feel anxious about,” Aysseh said. “But Suniya Luthar, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University who has studied distress and resilience in both well-off and disadvantaged teenagers, has found that privileged youths are among the most emotionally distressed young people in America. ‘These kids are incredibly anxious and perfectionistic,’ she says, but there’s ‘contempt and scorn for the idea that kids who have it all might be hurting.’”
The two main areas where Giving Day will benefit the YWCA of Darien/Norwalk are parent awareness and building a sense of community.
“Parent awareness, which has been at the YWCA Darien/Norwalk for 20 years now, is a series of programs to educate parents in the community about various topics,” said Judy Phillips, executive director. “Our goal is to help families raise healthy children.”
One of the YWCA’s new initiatives is the creation of a community calendar, which lists anything related to parenting. The calendar will help parents have easy access to events, according to Phillips.
“We are trying to give information to families for the healthy, positive development of families in all ages and stages,” she said.
According to Phillips, the goal of the YWCA is to grow the programming that we are providing to our clubs,” Phillips said.
Another goal, according to Phillips, is to build “a sense of community.”
One area the YWCA plans on addressing that pertains to this goal is holding a talk on how to be financially successful on a one-income salary.
“A lot of families moved to Darien as two working parents, but then one parent decided that they will stay home and raise the family,” Phillips said. “You want to know about finances and how do you empower women to make that choice?”
To participate in Giving Day, visit FCGives.org. Donations of $10 or more are accepted.