Peña plans to make South Norwalk Community Center stand out

NORWALK, Conn. Warren Peña remembers when the South Norwalk Community Center helped make the holidays bright for his family. Now the Common Council member is taking a very prominent role in running the non-profit anti poverty agency.

Peña (D-At Large) was elected chairman of the center’s board of directors last month.

“I am excited about the opportunity to give back to the community,” he said in a statement. “SNCC was there for me and my family when we first came to this country from Nicaragua. My father left when I was 10 years old leaving my mother with three small children; in those days if it weren’t for the center and Stew Leonard’s, we probably would not have had a turkey on Thanksgiving Day. I look forward to working with all those who have needs in our diverse community.”

The SNCC is located on the first floor at 98 South Main Street, sharing a home with Norwalk’s embattled anti-poverty agency, NEON, which is on the second floor of the building.

The SNCC has served primarily the Latino community since its inception, but today serves all of those in need. The mission of the center is to meet the educational, counseling, vocational, employment, emotional, cultural and recreational needs of economically disadvantaged people and minority groups so that they become self-sufficient.

“This is very dear to me as I have a personal connection to the center and have seen firsthand, with my own family and others, how the center can make a difference in people’s lives,” Peña said in a statement.

The new chairman says there is a lot of work to do so he will be introducing a series of items that will warrant attention from the community as the SNCC has been overshadowed by NEON.

“My number one priority is to restore the ‘integrity’ of the center so that it has its own identity. It is important for people to understand that the community center is alive and well, that we are here for the people,” he said.

“The SNCC has a lot of partnerships including a very close one with NEON since they share the same building,” he continued. “Previously, there has not been a clear understanding of what the legal relationship is between the two organizations, so I look forward to ironing that out and co-existing peacefully, as I believe we have common goals and the original intent was to have a partnership.”

The board will be revisiting its mission statement, vision, partnerships and contracts. They will focus on re-branding, creating a website, engaging the community, revising by-laws, adding board members and building new relationships, according to Peña.

The board would like to invite members of the community for its annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner “hot meals and warm coats” hosted by Ernie Dumas, on Thursday Thanksgiving Day from noon to 5 p.m. There will be coats, sweaters and children’s clothes handed out.

The leadership of the board consists of Peña, Luis Miranda – former chair now vice chair; Guillermo Pino, treasurer; Jose Graterol, secretary, Julio Cabrera, sergeant of order. The executive director will continue to be Josie Castillo, who has been with the center for 28 years. In addition, Attorney Edwin Camacho of Camacho Law Offices, located on 11 North Main Street, has partnered with the center for legal advice.


3 responses to “Peña plans to make South Norwalk Community Center stand out”

  1. tim T

    I give Pena a lot of credit for a young man to have come so far..He really should run for mayor.

    1. oldtimer

      His day will come, he is not even half moccia’s age.

      1. Warren Peña says he needs five years before he is ready to run for mayor.

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