The Community Fund of Darien

The Community Fund of Darien Unveils New Website


 The Community Fund of Darien has announced the launch of its new website, The website is designed to increase awareness and support for those who are most vulnerable in Stamford, Norwalk and Darien by sharing local needs assessment data and the positive impact of Community Fund grant awards to local nonprofits and community initiatives. “We believe that when local residents know the extent of the needs around them, they respond with compassion and generosity to help their neighbors. We are committed to providing a website that offers an engaging and informative way for residents to learn more about the needs around us and how they can help,” said Carrie Bernier, Executive Director of The Community Fund of Darien.

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First Congregational Church Gives $15,000 to The Community Fund’s Thriving Youth Initiative

camera-download-9-21-16-122This spring, The First Congregational Church of Darien’s Board of Outreach raised $15,000 to benefit local nonprofits through their 2016 Darien House Tour: Homes with a Heart. In addition to the house tour, this fundraising initiative included a parenting event, art show and “party with a purpose.” The Community Fund of Darien’s Thriving Youth Initiative was selected by the Board of Outreach as the lead beneficiary.

The Thriving Youth Initiative seeks to promote healthy development among Darien’s youth in response to recent alarming trends evident in The Community Fund of Darien’s survey of teens over the past seven years.  Results show that substance abuse is on the rise among teens and that both resilience and resistance skills are declining.

The Thriving Youth Initiative will dedicate $100,000 each year, over the next five years, to implement a strategic prevention plan to reduce substance abuse and improve mental health among Darien’s 12 to 17-year-olds and their parents. The additional funding provided by the Darien House Tour will expand the initiative’s prevention efforts into the preschool and elementary school populations. The First Congregational Church of Darien is proud to support this effort to build in our children the skills needed, including resilience, self-esteem and coping, for a lifetime of healthy decisions.


Abilis Receives $19K Grant Award from the Community Fund of Darien


Carrie Bernier and Amy Wilkinson from The Community Fund of Darien and Dennis Perry from Abilis. Contributed photo

Abilis, a human services organization that provides supports for individuals with special needs and their families in Fairfield County received a $19,000 grant award from The Community Fund of Darien which will go toward the hiring and training of a job coach.

Abilis serves over 700 individuals a year, including 200 adults with developmental disabilities in its day services program. In keeping with its desire to help all participants lead productive and meaningful lives, Abilis works diligently to provide competitive employment opportunities.

Abilis has a growing roster of over 40 business partners that includes retail stores such as CVS, Marshall’s, Pet Pantry, Stop & Shop, Target, Walgreen’s, and Whole Foods, as well as local libraries, restaurants, and community organizations.

“Funding for the hiring and training of job coaches is especially important given the growing number of young adults with special needs transitioning out of Fairfield County high schools over the next decade, many of whom will be served by Abilis,” said Dennis Perry, President/CEO of Abilis.

With the addition of one job coach in July 2015, Abilis more than doubled the number of individuals placed in competitive employment situations over the past year, increasing the number of program participants from 20 to 48.

Therefore, building capacity in this area has become a strategic priority. According to Perry, “The grant award from the Community Fund of Darien represents an important vote of confidence in our targeted efforts to promote self-sufficiency for the adults we serve through job development and training.”

The Community Fund of Darien has supported Abilis over the past nine years. Its grant panel commended Abilis for its work in the area of promoting self-sufficiency, one of its four funding priorities.

In its grant award letter, the panel said, “Abilis works hard to find job placement opportunities for its clients and the panel commends the organization for these efforts, especially given the time necessary to arrange contacts, secure placements, and ensure job success.”

Abilis is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides services and supports for over 700 individuals with special needs and their families from birth through the life span. Abilis has been a leader in serving the special needs community in lower Fairfield and Westchester Counties for almost 65 years and has a long-standing reputation for individualized, high quality care.

The Community Fund of Darien Awards Grant to Person-to-Person

The Community Fund of Darien Awards Grant to Person-to-Person

Funds from this grant will be used to support the Emergency Assistance Program, which includes the agency’s Clothing Center and Food Pantries as well as Casework Services and Financial Assistance for P2P clients.

The Community Fund of Darien has been a long-time supporter of Person-to-Person and we appreciate that it is continuing to help P2P provide programs and services to people who come to the agency for assistance.

Pictured: Executive Director Carrie Bernier and Grants Director Amy Wilkinson with P2P Executive Director Ceci Maher


About Person-to-Person: 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. Programs include Emergency Assistance, Campership and Scholarship. 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 on the web.

About The Community Fund of Darien: The Community Fund of Darien is an independent, local, volunteer-driven, not-for-profit organization that addresses health and human service needs. It is dedicated and committed to building a healthy community in Darien, Norwalk and Stamford. More information may be found on the web.

KIC receives funding from The Community Fund of Darien

Shari Shapiro, Executive Director of Kids in Crisis, center, receives a check from Carrie Bernier (l) and Amy Wilkinson (r) of The Community Fund of Darien.

Shari Shapiro, Executive Director of Kids in Crisis, center, receives a check from Carrie Bernier (l) and Amy Wilkinson (r) of The Community Fund of Darien.

Kids in Crisis, the area’s only free, round-the-clock crisis counseling center and emergency shelter, announced that it has received a $14,250 competitive grant from the Community Fund of Darien to fund the operation of the Agency’s Safe Haven for Kids program, which provides comprehensive counseling and emergency shelter for Fairfield County children and teens.

Since its founding in 1978, Kids in Crisis has helped area families and children through free, round-the-clock crisis counseling and outreach provided by trained, on-site counselors. When home is not a safe or appropriate place for children to stay, they are welcomed into the Safe Haven for Kids program, which shelters up to 20 children, ages newborn to age 17, from Darien and throughout Fairfield County. While temporarily residing at Kids in Crisis, these children receive intensive psychological and therapeutic individual and group counseling, comprehensive medical care provided by a full-time nurse practitioner, and in-depth educational support all amidst a loving, supportive family-like environment. The Safe Haven for Kids program is the only one of its kind in the state of Connecticut.

“We are deeply grateful to the Community Fund of Darien for its ongoing support of our Safe Haven for Kids program, especially during this challenging time,” said Shari Shapiro, Executive Director of Kids in Crisis. “Together, we can continue providing families in our area with the care and services they need and deserve.”

Kids in Crisis ( is Connecticut’s only free, round-the-clock agency providing emergency shelter, crisis counseling and community educational programs for children of all ages and families dealing with a wide range of crises—domestic violence, mental health and family problems, substance abuse, economic difficulties and more. Since its founding in 1978, Kids in Crisis has helped more than 137,000 Connecticut children and families; last year, more than 5,000 children and families in Darien, greater Bridgeport, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Ridgefield, Stamford, Weston, Westport and Wilton received assistance from the organization.

Pacific House receives grant from Community Fund of Darien

STAMFORD — A city homeless shelter has received a $29,000 grant from The Community Fund of Darien.
The funds will benefit the Pacific House’s operating costs, case management and supported housing services.
“We extend our heartfelt thanks to The Community Fund of Darien for their continued support of Pacific House,” said Rafael Pagan Jr., executive director of Pacific House. “In addition to funding general operating expenses at the shelter such as heat, electricity and building maintenance, the grant funds will be used to help clients’ access mental health, substance abuse, veteran’s assistance, job readiness and other community supports. We are grateful to The Community Fund of Darien for this support in setting individuals up for long-term success.”
The grant, which was awarded at The Community Fund of Darien’s 2016 Grants Award Open House, supports the provision of basic human needs — emergency food and shelter — for nearly 500 homeless people, and the several programs that help find housing and develop self-sufficiency and self-reliance for Pacific House clients.
“The Community Fund of Darien is proud to support Pacific House’s efforts to end chronic homelessness by transitioning clients from shelter to affordable housing and by providing case management and emergency shelter services to ensure that those who are most vulnerable in our community receive the services they need,” said Carrie Bernier, executive director of The Community Fund of Darien.
Pacific House, formerly known as Shelter for the Homeless, is the only regional men’s emergency shelter, serving Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan, Darien and beyond. Since 1982, the organization has served 1 million meals, provided 800,000 bed-nights, secured housing for 1,500 people, and found employment for 3,000 clients.

Norwalk nonprofit granted $38,000 for after-school program

NORWALK — More than 80 students will get an upgrade to their after-school program this year.

The Community Fund of Darien gave $38,000 to Norwalk’s Family and Children’s Agency for it’s ASPIRE program.

ASPIRE provides mentorship and counseling to local middle and high school students at Norwalk Community College. This year, all of the ASPIRE seniors graduated from high school.

“There are so many success stories from the youth in our ASPIRE program but there is more work to be done,” said Robert Cashel, FCA president & CEO, in a statement. “With this grant, we can continue to guide students to reach their maximum potential and successfully transition to the next stage of their education.”

ASPIRE also holds a summer program four days a week for six weeks, which teaches high school students about personal finances and medical services while middle school students learn about the United States’ different regions.

FCA supports both adults and students in improving familial relationships through counseling, working with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, offering information on adoption options and partnering with the Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies to offer parent education courses.

It also offers scholarships, including two $10,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors from the ASPIRE program each year.

The Community Fund of Darien provides one-time grants for special projects, larger funding allocations over $10,000 each year, up to $500 for people in Darien’s Department of Social Services, and funds longer-term “Community Impact Initiatives.”

For more information about FCA, call 203-855-8765. For those interested in learning about The Community Fund of Darien, call 203-655-8775.; @SilviaElenaFF


Darien Community Fund Hands Out Awards To Valued Volunteers

DARIEN, Conn. — The Community Fund of Darien honored outstanding volunteers and community projects at a luncheon Friday at the Darien Community Association.

Babs White received the Obie Harrington-Howes Community Spirit Award, and several other volunteers and projects were also honored for their service.

For over 60 years, The Community Fund of Darien has helped those in need. Its grants to local nonprofits are targeted toward the most critical needs in Darien, Stamford and Norwalk.

For more information, visit the website

The Community Fund of Darien to leave historic site on May 1

The Community Fund House circa 1979

The Community Fund house circa 1979, before renovation

The Community Fund of Darien will be changing locations come May 1, leaving behind the Post Road location that has served as the organization’s home for 35 years.

Executive Director Carrie Bernier announced the move on the organization’s website and Facebook page last week. The Community Fund has agreed to a two-year lease with Office Suites of Darien at Old Kings Highway South. Their lease at 701 Post Road, a town owned building, expired in January. On Monday the Board of Selectmen voted in favor of keeping the lease terms intact until April 30.

Based off statements from Bernier and First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, The Community Fund chose to seek a new location rather than investing in costly repairs for the Post Road building. As a part of the leasing agreement, the organization was to be responsible for all capital improvements.

“We realized that the costs to renovate this 200-year-old house would be far too high and time-consuming to justify on a rental property that no longer meets all our needs,” Bernier wrote on The Community Fund website.

The Community Fund first entered into its lease agreement with the town in 1979 and was able to convert the historic house into office space with the help of a grant from Exxon. While the space still retains decades of memories and Darien history, Bernier said the needs of the organization have outgrown its home. She explained that The Community Fund would rather use donor funds in support of their mission, instead of on building maintenance.

Last year, The Community Fund awarded more than $660,000 in grants to local nonprofits and programs in Darien, Stamford and Norwalk. In addition to offering grants to other nonprofits in need, TCF helps organize and sponsor programs within the town. Youth advocacy and support continues to be a central priority for the organization.

The Community Fund plans to hold a farewell party at the 701 Post Road house in late April and on May 19, the organization will celebrate its 65 anniversary by welcoming back board members and volunteers for a special event.

During Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, Stevenson said The Community Fund was expected to notify the town of their decision to leave the lease one year in advance. According to the First Selectmen, the town had been in the process of negotiation the lease’s renewal over the last few months but a compromise couldn’t be reached. However, given the organization’s history of partnership with the town, the closing terms were made agreeable.

“The Community Fund of Darien is an excellent community partner and because we want to maintain a great working relationship with them, I’m going to recommend to the town that we allow them to get out of their lease on April 30th and pay a prorated share of their annual rent,” Stevenson said.

The Board of Selectmen unanimously supported the motion and The Community Fund will be required to pay a prorated rent of $1,861.04 for its remaining time on Post Road. Bernier thanked the town for being great landlords and doing their best to accommodate the organization.

The 701 Post Road property shares a parking lot with the Old Town Hall Houses, which are expected to undergo major re-development later this year. OTHH will be an affordable senior living facility operated by the Darien Housing Authority, a state agency. Selectmen Marc Thorne suggested the Post Road property could be of use to the DHA due its proximity to the upcoming project.

“It seems to me that property would be very helpful to Old Town Hall Homes renovation,” Thorne said.

However, Stevenson and Town Administrator Kate Buch said the town is exploring alternative uses for the space. The building lies in a historical zone, and may be protected from demolition or other major structural changes.

Community Fund kicks off 37th annual Darien Road Race

The 37th annual Darien Road Race is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 11 at Pear Tree Point Beach and includes a 10K and 1.5 mile Loop. The race will feature “The Finish Line” tent with music, games, food trucks, sponsor booths, silent auction and an awards ceremony.

The Darien Road Race supports The Community Fund of Darien. The race has raised almost $1 million to benefit our neighbors with critical needs in Stamford, Norwalk and Darien. All money raised in the race will benefit local nonprofits and community initiatives. The Community Fund grants will target youth success, self-sufficiency, basic needs and Darien programs. The Darien Road Race brings together families, athletes and adults – young and old – to celebrate the spirit of our community and support a great cause.

The race is made possible by local business sponsors and many wonderful volunteers. The title sponsor for the 2016 Darien Road Race is the Darien Sport Shop. Our Gold sponsors are UBS, Eagle Point Credit, Tooher-Ferraris Insurance Group and Vineyard Vines. In addition, 2016 sponsors include: Baywater Properties, Christine Hamilton-Hall MD, Corbo’s Deli, CST 50, Darien Rowayton Bank, Farrell Construction, Fox Hill Builders, Halstead Property, Heights Pizza, Hutchinson Tree, Kumon, Methodist Family Center, Northwestern Mutual, Palmer’s Market, Pear Tree Point School, Perpetual Insights, Professional Physical Therapy, Pure Barre, Southfield Center, Stamford Hospital, TD Bank, and Thomas Costello Landscaping.

In-kind donations are supplied by The Goose, Fleet Feet Stamford, Crystal Rock, The Darien Boat Club, Runner’s Roost, and The Darien Times.

Registration for the Darien Road Race is now open at The registration fee is $45 ($50 on race day) and $15 for all children 12 and under. The first 400 registered runners will receive an official 2016 Darien Road Race performance t-shirt on race day. For more information or to register for the Darien Road Race go to or call 203-655-8775.