NORWALK, Conn. — State grants totaling $150,000 will help fund youth violence prevention initiatives at “five wonderful nonprofit organizations in our community,” State Rep. Stephanie Thomas (D-143) said Friday.
“I believe that we all benefit when government and nonprofit organizations team up to address difficult issues,” Thomas said, at City Hall. “Our nonprofit partners are closest to the problem, and they focus on database solutions that work. Given the challenges we’ve all faced over the last 18 months, this funding will help a vulnerable youth move forward in a positive direction. All five of these organizations have proven strategies that will help our young people stay on a positive path throughout their lives.”
The funding came through the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, a press release said.
“I want to just take a moment to really thank Representative Thomas for her efforts to bring this funding to our local communities. She is in her first term in her first year of her first term,” State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) said. “… It’s very hard to kind of find your way around (in your first year), whether it’s virtually or in person and she managed to do not only that, but find funding for these great organizations.”
The Carver Center, Homes for Hope, the Norwalk Housing Foundation, the Child Guidance Center of Mid-Fairfield County and The Rowan Center are benefitting from the grant.
“This grant will specifically help us to expand our Summer Run program. That’s a program that we’ve done for a number of years,” Carver Center Executive Director Novelette Peterkin said.
A Carver Facebook post explains that this summer, the program included the “new mobile L.O.V.E. Unit, an initiative that provided free basketball training and mentorship at Roodner Court and Columbus Court.”
“We actually took this on the road, which, as a result of this grant, were able to do that, so we’re very happy about that,” Peterkin said at Friday’s event.
Carver also offered high school students paid internships through an Earn and Learn Initiative, “as a result of this grant,” she said. “We also will add a number of family engagement at the community center. We plan to do a workshop on artificial intelligence. “There’s so many things that we want to do with families as well as with the students. So, we are grateful for this grant.”
As for the Child Guidance Center of Mid-Fairfield County, “We work with many children and families from Norwalk, who have experienced significant trauma due to abuse, neglect, bullying, and domestic violence,” Marissa Mangone said. “This funding will be used to provide trauma informed clinical interventions aimed at helping to break the cycle of violence or other experiences that negatively impact the social and emotional health and well-being of children and families in our community.”
Homes for Hope has after school programs and, “This money will help us to really make a difference and to provide some more training, some more needed support for the young people and expand the program,” Helen McAlinden said.
“Youth Violence is a significant public health problem that affects thousands of young people each day. Research shows that the gap in time between the ringing of the last school bell and the time that parents come home from work is the time in which that danger of violence is most prevalent,” Norwalk Housing Authority Executive Director Adam Bovilsky said. “The Learning Center program, which is free to participants, gives parents working parents the opportunity to work full-time jobs without concern for how they will afford childcare.”
“The Rowan Center is a full-service sexual assault resource agency. We provide 24/seven advocacy services,” Mary Flynn said. “…We are so thrilled because we started a program last year called Rowan Roundtables. And this funding will allow us to expand that program.”
State Rep. Terri Wood (R-141), who supported Thomas’ opponent in last year’s election, praised her with, “She absolutely hit the ground running on her first term. And it’s been a joy to work together.”
The nonprofits are all “remarkable,” she said.
“I think we all know that one of the most important issues that we’re dealing with is violence in our communities, youth violence, violence at many different levels, whether it’s sexual abuse, whether it’s abuse in the home, it’s so critical that we do everything we possibly can to stem that rise in violence,” Mayor Harry Rilling said. “I’ve just recently been selected by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities to chair a Commission on Violence Intervention Strategies, how we can work together to bring people from all over the state of Connecticut, to come up with strategies as how we can intervene and help people. And I think that will dovetail nicely. I looked forward to learning from these groups, and I hope that I can impart something on them with our efforts.”