Getting involved

FI-EditorialWhile many charitable drives and efforts to give back to the community are focused around the holiday season, it should be obvious that the need to help others doesn’t disappear when the Christmas decorations do.

Last week, Greenwich resident Phil Brous brought close to 80 coats to Wilbur Peck Court, the town owned housing complex where many of Greenwich’s lowest income residents live. That’s a big number and it can help a lot of people. These were coats in good condition that had all been professionally dry cleaned thanks to a donation from Robert DeRosa of Jiffy Cleaners. But Mr. Brous didn’t just drop off the coats and call it a day.

Work is ongoing and others can help out. Mr. Brous got involved with a non-profit called Needs Clearing House (NCH) formed by Greenwich residents Joe Kaliko and State Rep. Fred Camillo. NCH looks at local charities and tries to help them meet their needs. Recently they’ve been working to try and give something that so many people take for granted, linens. People might not know that’s a need, but it most certainly is.

Imagine not having sheets for your bed. Imagine just having a mattress with a blanket over it. That’s a reality in Greenwich for some, including children. That’s the need Mr. Kaliko and Mr. Camillo have been trying to address through the NCH.

At the town’s food bank, Neighbor to Neighbor, sheets and linens fly off the shelves as quickly as they can be donated. That proves how great the need is. The town’s Housing Authority, thanks to Andee Cantavero, the department’s social services coordinator, is setting up so that residents of Wilbur Peck can get those items more easily and hopes to extend it to other parts of town housing, but people need to give. The efforts of people like Mr. Brous, Mr. Kaliko and Mr. Camillo as well as all the local business owners who helped them, need to be replicated and expanded by others.

These are sheets that were used by the Stamford Marriott and otherwise would be discarded or turned into cleaning rags. Now they can make a big difference in someone’s life and it’s all happening because Mr. Kaliko thought enough to ask the hotel if it would donate. It turns out it was happy to do it but no one had asked before. Now more residents will have sheets on their beds, just like more residents will be able to wear a coat thanks to Mr. Brous.

In case you didn’t notice, Greenwich just went through a time of bitter cold where even those who bundled up felt the freezing blast. Chances are the town is going to experience that again. Can you envision having to go through that without a coat? People in this town did and now they won’t have to thanks to Mr. Brous and everyone who gave.

But it bears repeating that the work isn’t done. There are still people in need and an assumption that in Greenwich, people don’t need the help. Mr. Camillo said at the state level people assume Greenwich is like Darien and New Canaan and they don’t know about Greenwich’s public housing, its large working class population or just how many people in this town make less than $50,000 a year.

Mr. Brous said that even in Greenwich, people are not aware of how large the need is. He said some people don’t even know that Wilbur Peck Court exists. That needs to change. Greenwich residents can do so much to help. All they have to do is get involved to do it.

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