Grant Recipient Stories
The Matthew Gaffney Foundation
The Matthew Gaffney Foundation was founded by Margaret Benedict in honor of her father, Dr Matthey Gaffney, a renowned educator known for his commitment to educational excellence, innovation, and diversity. The Foundation is based in Stamford and serves the students of lower Fairfield County with college counseling and placement services. Their mission is “To provide highly motivated, economically disadvantaged students an opportunity to have a successful college experience and productive career”.
The Matthew Gaffney Foundation works with local high schools to identify highly motivated and skilled students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and mentors and counsels the students through their academic careers preparing them for the college application process. Most of these students are the first generation in their family to attend college and therefore have little idea of the required coursework and application process. The Foundation provides SAT/ACT preparation, Course advisement, College placement counseling, College mentoring, Supervised trips to visit colleges, A summer camp experience. The Foundation members stay with the students through their academic career, from mentoring in high school to continuing to support them through their college experience. Over the past 15yrs they have graduated 200 students with a 99% graduation rate. The national average graduation rate for first generation college students is 14%, with an 86% drop out rate. The students graduate debt free from such schools as, Bates, Boston College, Bowdoin, Brown, Bucknell, Columbia, Connecticut College, Dartmouth, Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg, Harvard, Lehigh, Pitzer, Princeton, St. Lawrence, Trinity, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Vermont.
In addition to the counseling and mentoring, The Gaffney Foundation also works with the colleges to identify scholarship programs, which leave the students debt free. The Foundation has 58 students in college on full scholarships, with 15 seniors applying to colleges and hopes to recruit 20 juniors this year.
In the past St. Johns has donated $10,000 per year, which supports two students from junior year in high school through college graduation.
Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens
For over 50 years, the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens has provided sanctuary to the greater Stamford community. As caretakers of this 93-acre living museum, we strive to connect with Stamford’s diverse community to foster a sense of belonging and ownership. We are immensely grateful for our continued partnership with St. John’s Community Foundation. This year, with their support, we are embarking on a professional landscape training program for immigrants and emergent landscape professionals from low-income households. This program will not only help us continue to build a welcoming and inclusive community that reflects the diversity of Stamford, but promote conservation and principles of sustainable landscape management to a new generation of professionals. Thanks to the board of St. John’s Community Foundation, the Bartlett is able to undertake meaningful and impactful programs like this.
St. Joseph Parenting Center
St. Joseph Parenting Center mission is to strengthen families that are at risk of child abuse and neglect, by providing parenting education and support. They equip parents with the education, tools, and resources to change unhealthy parenting patterns and to foster healthy ones in an effort to decrease the incidence of child abuse and neglect.
Through their 3 programs: The General Parenting Program (GPP), Women’s Circle Support Group, and Dads are the Difference (D.A.D.s). St. Joseph Parenting Center seeks to increase feelings of self-empowerment, confidence, and a sense of belonging while providing the education and skills that are needed for parenting and adult self-sufficiency. The classes are offered in English and Spanish.
Despite impacts of COVID, the Parenting Center was able to service 324 parents with 70% of their participants residing in Stamford.
The St. John’s Community Foundation grants enable St Joseph’s to continue offering their dynamic programs and
River House’s mission is to provide adult day care that works for all families in Greenwich, Stamford, and the surrounding areas. Adults who wish to remain in their community but require daytime assistance come to River House up to five days a week to participate in vibrant activities, socialize with their peers, and receive compassionate care. Individuals challenged with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, diabetes, stroke, depression, traumatic brain injury, cardiac or pulmonary disease, vision/hearing loss, or other age-related ailments, greatly benefit from River House’s team of nurses, health aides, and therapeutic recreation staff who are trained to support their unique needs. River House follows a medical care model where nurses work with every member, their doctors, and their family to provide a personalized plan of care that enhances the member’s overall well-being. Eighty present of the enrolled clients have a dementia related diagnosis and many others are living with depression, diabetes, the aftereffects of strokes, Parkinson’s, cardiac or pulmonary diseases and other illnesses often associated with the aging process By providing this crucial daytime care, caregivers are given the respite and peace of mind needed to effectively care for themselves and their loved ones.
Family Centers, Inc.
For more than 130 years, The Family Centers, Inc has helped “empower children, adults, families and communities to realize their potential.”
Through its comprehensive network of 26 programs and services, the agency serves more than 20,000 residents annually. Programs are delivered within more than 60 service delivery sites, including licensed facilities located throughout Stamford, Greenwich and Darien.
Approximately 67% of the agency’s services benefit Stamford residents directly.
St. John’s Episcopal Church, through the St. John’s Community Foundation, awarded The Family Centers a $3,500 grant in 2021.
This money went directly to support The Den for Grieving Kids, a bereavement resource established in 1993, to offer families dealing with loss a safe and supportive place to process feelings of grief, learn coping strategies, gain support from the community and begin their journey to healing.
Building One community
The Rowan Center
The Rowan Center, named after the ancient Rowan tree known for its strength and protection, has provided services to sexual assault survivors and preventative educational training to residents of Stamford and neighboring towns for over forty years. St. John’s Foundation provides funding to support Rowan’s educational programs in Stamford’s schools. The programs seek to raise awareness of personal safety, sexual harassment, and sexual assault, and to provide tools for those have experienced crimes. The recent Me-Too movement has generated more demand for education and Rowan seeks to provide programs to all Stamford public schools. The pandemic limited Rowan’s in-person programs but the staff has found other ways to reach out, through online videos and radio. We look forward to tracking Rowan’s continued problem solving during the pandemic.
Northeast Community Cycles
Northeast Community Cycles is a new recipient of a grant from St John’s Community Foundation. Their mission is to provide safe, refurbished bicycles, free of charge, to underprivileged children and adults in Fairfield County, CT. They are located at 48 Union St, Stamford. They began in 2005, became a non-profit in 2012 and have given away more than 2,500 bicycles to local charities. Their volunteers refurbish the donated bicycles and give them away, each with a new free helmet. Some of their bicycles are distributed to boys and girls and clubs and others to homeless shelters.
I became aware of this special organization in 2016 when bicycles were needed for a refugee family, newly arrived in this country. Northeast Community Cycles provided bicycles to the children and to the Dad to enable him to get to and from his new job. This was a tremendous and appreciated gift to this family. In 2019 I was involved with another new family to this country who also needed and received bicycles from Northeast Community Cycles again allowing another Dad to get to and from his new job in Stamford.
Trustee, St John’s Community Foundation