Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
LIFE HAVEN, New Haven
$250: March 2005 – Lois Fucci (Philippines, 1965-1967)
Life Haven is a safe and nurturing environment committed to assisting homeless pregnant women and women with young children develop skills that will enable them to live independently. It is located right here in the New Haven area. Life Haven is not a swinging door; most mothers and their children stay there for about 3 months. During this time period, mothers receive support that helps them to turn their lives around. The staff and counselors at Life Haven provide classes on the following: applying for a job, managing a checkbook, cooking healthy meals, improving literacy, using social services to benefit their children’s health, finding an apartment and, most importantly, dealing with the adversities that brought them to Life Haven. After they leave, the women can come back for more counseling and to get clothes for their children from donations that are given to Life Haven. Helping these women reach independence is the main focal point of the program. CTRPCVs have volunteered at Life Haven to do community service projects like gardening, cleaning, and organizing an afterschool study area for children. One of our CTRPCV members, Lois Fucci, is a regular volunteer and faithful supporter at Life Haven.
AIDS DEMENTIA PROJECT, Hartford Hospital
$1,000: September 2006 – Jennifer Grubb (Gambia, 2000-2002)
Jennifer Grubb is a CTRPCV member who is part of a group of nurses working at Hartford Hospital who initiated the AIDS Dementia Project to address some of the unmet needs of the patient population. As an acute inpatient unit, Center 12 focuses on providing medical care to patients (many of whom have HIV/AIDS). Through this Community Service Fund Grant, they plan to enhance the patients’ psychosocial health and alleviate some of the stressors of being hospitalized.
BLESSED SACRAMENT YOUTH MINISTRY, Mississippi
$1,000: April 2006
Blessed Sacrament Youth Ministry, located on the east side of Biloxi, Mississippi, works with a disadvantaged neighborhood composed mostly of African Americans. This was always a poor neighborhood, but when Hurricane Katrina flooded this peninsula with 12 – 27 feet of polluted water leaving nothing but devastation in its wake, it turned a bad situation into a living nightmare. Giving children the tools to build a positive future is the goal of the Blessed Sacrament Youth Ministry. The WEAL (Work, Earn, & Learn) is a five-week summer program that teaches junior high school students, who maintain passing grades, basic work and socialization skills. It focuses on teaching technical skills, appropriate behavior on the job, and personal money management. This grant is an example of a small step towards helping to rebuild the spirits of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. If more groups like CTRPCV take these small steps, the end of the “journey to recovery of the Gulf Coast” will be that much closer.
BRIDGEPORT COMMUNITY LAND TRUST
$500: October 2006 – Bob Halstead (El Salvador, 1977-1979)
The mission of the organization is to preserve open space in Bridgeport for the purpose of land conservation, environmental protection and community gardening for the benefit of its residents with a focus on its children.
Through the application of grant funding from various private and public resources, the mission of the Bridgeport Community Land Trust is to acquire property in order to preserve or otherwise clean up and apply the appropriate plantings to enable the Bridgeport population to enjoy open space and access to the waterfront. The program supplies waterlines, fencing, and wood for raised beds, plants, tools, topsoil, tool sheds and mulch among other things. It also provides mentoring for young people who are learning about gardening, supplies technical assistance for designing gardens and for growing vegetables.
The Land Trust was formed in the Spring of 2006 in reaction to the city’s intentions to sell all of the gardens that were located on city-owned property. The results of this would have been devastating. In a welling up of public sentiment well documented in the press, an organization sprung up to oppose the sale and they achieved a great victory as they convinced the City Council to rescind the administration’s plans.
The organization’s development was nurtured by last year’s Connecticut Community Gardening Associations Annual Conference that was held at Bridgeport’s Beardsley Zoo. Close to 200 people participated and it inspired more involvement and increased awareness of the benefits of community gardening. In addition, committees have been doing workdays at separate community gardens in order to spruce up the common areas of community gardens. The community realized that simple cosmetic curbside appeal had to be added to the gardens. This has largely been accomplished with great pride.
HARTFORD CATHOLIC WORKER AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM
$1,000: April 2006
The Hartford Catholic Worker community has housed the homeless, fed the hungry, provided furniture for the poor, and worked with children in a disadvantaged neighborhood in North Hartford since 1993. Their work is done from the heart because their community is not funded through any church or government. In fact, their “staff” only receives room and board and a stipend of $20 a week. The CTRPCV grant will assist with their after-school program mission, which is to encourage and affirm the children to read, write and complete their homework. The neighborhood children come to the Catholic Worker site after school on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. If a child reads for 20 minutes or writes a page in a journal, after completing their homework, “credits” are earned that can be used to “purchase” school supplies, new books, and/or some special meaningful privileges like going to a local cultural event. A nutritional snack is also provided for the children.
INTERFAITH REFUGEE MINISTRY, New Haven
$1,000: April 2006
Interfaith Refugee Ministry (IRM), a nonprofit group based in New Haven, is a federally recognized refugee resettlement agency, working within the structure of the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the US Department of Health and Human Services. Their mission is to welcome refugees to Connecticut and help them become self-sufficient and productive members of the community. Since 1982, IRM has resettled more than 4,000 individuals in the Greater New Haven area. The refugees, invited by the US government to start new lives in the United States, come from all over the world, including the countries of Liberia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, and Cuba. Originally established as a program of Episcopal Social Service, IRM has grown increasingly independent since its inception in 1982. They help refugees find housing and jobs, access medical care, enroll their children in school, teach them English, and help them get accustomed to life in America.
DARIEN BOOK AID PLAN
$500*: August 2008 – CTRPCVs for PCVs
* An additional $500 was awarded in April 2009
Darien Book Aid Plan, Inc. is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to fostering peace and friendship through the distribution of free books. Approximately 60% of DBA’s shipments fulfill requests from current PC Volunteers. As Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, we know how much of an impact educational materials can have on a community. DBA has been hard hit by the huge increase in the cost of using mail bags to send books to PCVs.
CONNECTICUT FOOD BANK
$500: April 2009 – Lois Fucci (Philippines 1965-1967)
The mission of Connecticut Food Bank is to alleviate hunger. They strive to do this by supplying food products and resources to their member agencies and promoting public awareness about the problem of hunger. The Connecticut Food Bank is a private, nonprofit organization that works with corporations, community organizations, and individuals to solicit, transport, warehouse and distribute donated food. By soliciting the food industry for products that will not sell “items that are wholesome but might have some cosmetic flaw” CFB reduces waste and feeds people.
THANKSGIVING FOOD BASKET INITIATIVE, CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY ACTION
$1,000: November 2009 – Al May (Costa Rica, 1970-1972)
For more than 30 years, with the help of the Connecticut Food Bank, businesses, churches, schools, individuals and civic groups like the CTRPCV, Christian Community Action, Inc. has been able to provide turkeys and all the fixings needed for a home-cooked holiday meal to about 1,500 New Haven low-income families, seniors and persons with disabilities annually. All the food is sorted and put in bags for distribution to the families and individuals thereby enabling them to have a healthy Thanksgiving dinner.
DARIEN BOOK AID SERVES PCVs
$2,000: July 2019
On Saturday, July 13th CTRPCV awarded a $2,000 Community Service Grant to Darien Book Aid. This was a small way to thank DBA for their many years of continuing service to PCVs who are serving around the world. Evidence of the joy that these books bring was noted by CT PCV Margo who was serving in Angaur Island, Palau. She sent a photo of her 3rd to 5th graders with their newly acquired precious possessions. Margo wrote, “Copies of Call It Courage, a coming-of-age story about a Polynesian island boy was read by the 7th grade class. We celebrated with movie night, watching a DVD of Charlton Heston in the Disney version. The book was better, of course!”
Check out their work at http://www.darienbookaid.org/
GROW GOOD IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS
$2,000: April 2020, Michael Hilton (Côte d’Ivoire1996-1998)
“Grow Good in The Neighborhoods” is aimed at involving middle and high school students from urban areas to invest in their own communities to beautify their neighborhoods with plantings, landscaping, debris removal, and eventually generating vegetable donations to local food pantries, soup kitchens in East Hartford. This program is a hands-on, fun, and educational – promoting nature, the environment, and community togetherness. Dig in, get dirty, learn something, help a neighborhood, show pride, make a difference, see the positive results, help the environment, feel good, create new friendships, develop new skills, learn lifetime lessons, and promote community.
SOUL DE CUBA CAFÉ, New Haven
$1,000: April 2020 (CTRPCV)
Soul de Cuba Cafe, as with so many other restaurants, bars and eateries, was adversely affected by the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. When they closed on March 18th, they thought they would be closed for only two weeks. Unfortunately, they suffered a second set-back when the restaurant was burglarized during Easter weekend putting an additional strain on an already-difficult situation. CTRPCV contributed to their GoFundMe page to lift some of the financial burdens resulting from those hardships. Jesus Puerto (PCV Samoa, PC Country Desk Caribbean 1998 – 2003), the founder and CEO of Soul de Cuba, is an RPCV who has been a very generous supporter of not only CTRPCV, but a multitude of charities. So, it was our turn to support him and his desire share the Cuban culture and to prepare your favorite Cuban foods at Soul de Cuba.
Connecticut Returned Peace Corps Volunteers is a not-for-profit organization registered under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States. It is also an affiliate group of the National Peace Corps Association.