Branford Community Foundation Gives $30K for Local Needs

By Pam Johnson
Shore Publishing, December 19, 2013

bcf-dec13During a critical time of need, Branford Community Foundation (BCF) has provided a $30,000 shot in arm to be shared by three local agencies which help residents stay afloat.

On Dec. 16, Branford Counseling Center (BCC) director Peter Cimino, Community Dining Room (CDR) director Pat Kral and Branford Food Pantry (BFP) president Wendy Cowles each received a $10,000 check for local distribution through their respective agencies. The funds were presented by BCF president Eunice Lasala and new BCF director Liza Petra.

With requests for basic needs assistance still on the rise in Branford, the contribution will help provide a much-needed boost to local residents and families in need, said each of the non-profit agency heads.
“There are more people in difficult economic situations than we’ve seen in the past,” said Kral.
Located in the Patricia C. Andriole Volunteer Services Center, the CDR serves over 4,500 meals monthly; including lunch every Sunday through Friday (and every second and fourth Saturday) as well as Tuesday family dinners, Wednesday night take-out dinners and Saturday breakfasts.

Cimino said the money will also be put to good use at BCC, already nearing the limit of expending its annual town budgeted monies with half the fiscal year still left to go. From helping pay household utility bills to avoid shut-offs, to assisting “…the working poor” with gasoline cards so they can simply get to work, BCC is fielding many requests for help from Branford individuals and families, said Cimino.

Other urgent requests topping calls for help to BCC this year include those seeking assistance with paying for prescriptions, home heating fuel, groceries, and supplies of disposable diapers. For diapers alone, BCC has filled $4,000 in requests since June of 2013, said Cimino.

Cowles said the Food Pantry has also had an increase in requests for supplies of weekly groceries to assist Branford residents trying to stretch their budgets to make ends meet.

“We also filled a record number of holiday basket requests for Thanksgiving this year; we had 275 requests,” said Cowles, an uptick of at least 25 families.

Branford Community Foundation raises money from generous donations and distributes it with the expert assistance, knowledge and insight of its volunteer Board of Directors. The BCF annual appeal is underway right now, with an appeal letter recently mailed to many community members. BCF raises money in the community which is then distributed back into the community, noted Petra.

“Their contributions will be helping their neighbors in Branford,” said Petra.

Founded in 1980, BCF is “…Branford’s most philanthropic agency,” added Lasala. “The Branford Community Foundation works every day to help address the most pressing issues facing our community, including emergency fuel and food assistance, youth development, environmental education and preservation, and the arts. Community foundations impact lives, solve problems, and improve futures. In a down economy, with limited resources and a growing need for services to help families in need, we are more determined than ever to bring our community partners together to find innovative and effective solutions to some of our most challenging social problems.”

Pictured above: Gathering around the tree in the Community Dining Room (CDR) to share in a $30,000 Branford Community Foundation (BCF) donation assisting community members in need are (1-r): Branford Counseling Center director Peter Cimino, Branford Food Pantry president Wendy Cowles, BCF president Eunice Lasala, CDR director Pat Kral and BCF director Liza Petra.