During the 2012-13 campaign year, The Community Fund of Darien (TCF) raised and awarded grants of over $675,000 to 25 local human services agencies while continuing to supports our programs “Touch a Life” and “small grants” funds.
‘Tis the Season to Give… For More Reasons Than You Might Think
The quest for happiness these days — feeling good about ourselves, adding meaning to life — is everywhere. People are constantly looking for the holy grail to happiness in magazine articles, therapist’s chairs, buying themselves that special something or taking that special trip. Yet time and again, studies show the straightest, most reliable path to happiness is this: doing something good for others. Because charitable acts aren’t just good for our family and community, they are also good for the soul. During this holiday season when we give to those we love, it is equally important to remember those we don’t even know – our neighbors in need in Darien, Stamford and Norwalk.
There are other pretty compelling reasons to give. Social scientists have identified humans as social beings – we are actually hard-wired for altruism. Helping others is good for you. It is good for your health: by decreasing depression, it reduces effects of chronic disease. It promotes social connectedness by fostering a sense of cooperation in our community. And it is good for education, because students who perform community service do better academically. Another interesting discovery about altruism is that it is contagious. Altruism begets more altruism: when you give, it creates a ripple effect of generosity in your community.
One of the most compelling reasons to embrace altruism is that it makes you a happier person. Studies in neuroscience have shown that when people behave altruistically, the regions in the brain associated with pleasure, social connection and trust are activated. It may even trigger an endorphin rush in the brain, giving the philanthropist a kind of “high” as a result of her or his actions. Scientists have found one predictor of happiness to be “prosocial spending.” This is a fancy term for individuals who give away their money for the benefit of others. The research to bear this out crosses global boundaries. In a Gallup World Poll between 2006 and 2008, in 120 countries, people who donated to charity within the past month reported a greater satisfaction in their lives.
This is all good news for our community. It is also good for The Community Fund of Darien. We take your charitable gifts and invest them in non-profits in Stamford, Norwalk and Darien serving a critical need. When you give to The Community Fund, you invest in our community, but you also invest in your family and your own happiness. Here in Darien, we value our families and friends, our beautiful and open natural spaces, the security of a safe town and the quality of our children’s education. In our community, we are linked by these common values. During this holiday season, when you take stock of your blessings, we hope you will remember those of us who are not as fortunate, and reach a little deeper to help your neighbors. After all, it will make you happier!
We invited the Darien community to come celebrate the spirit of giving thanks and giving back to our neighbors in need. The party was meant to raise awareness of The Community Fund’s mission and accomplishments and to increase contributions to TCF’s annual campaign. We are grateful for the support of the nearly 300 people who joined us. We want to particularly thank our committee members and Wee Burn Country Club for making the event a tremendous success. It was a beautiful fall night to enjoy sliders and s’mores at the fire pits, listen to live acoustic music and to have the opportunity to show Darien’s concern for our neighbors’ critical needs by pledging to The Community Fund. Our goal was to keep it simple and remind people of the importance of giving back.
As we enter into Thanksgiving and the holiday season, The Community Fund of Darien encourages all of us to be mindful of our less fortunate neighbors and simply give.
Our Youth Community Fund is a team of high school students from Darien who will engage in their own philanthropy. They will visit and volunteer at local non profits, and after grant reviews in the spring, they will recommend a total of $5,000 in funding to the agencies. Volunteer activities may include bingo night with the developmentally disabled, a Halloween party for children in transitional housing or helping the local food bank restock its shelves. The students will have an opportunity to get to know some of the agencies we support and make important decisions regarding how to allocate funding. If your high schooler is interested in joining the Youth Community Fund, please call Erika Morro at 203 655 8775. For more information go to: www.thrivingyouthdarien.org.
Darien has the highest proportion of its population under 18 of any town in Connecticut. According to census data, 36.8% of Darien's population is under 18 compared with 23.5% statewide.