On Sunday, November 11th, 2012, over 1000 volunteers from Fairfield and the surrounding areas met at Jennings Beach in Fairfield with one purpose – to help those in the beach area affected by Hurricane Sandy
The Clean Up was an idea hatched by the three of us while brainstorming of a way to help in our own community. While affected residents were adamant that they were not in need of supplies or food, what they did need was some extra hands to help them restore their homes and yards.
Through social media, the small project turned massive and in the end 1,036 people volunteered to help clean up homes on over 70 streets in Fairfield from the South Pine Creek area to Jennings Beach.
There were about two dozen more volunteers that helped out at Jennings Beach, the staging area for the day, where they registered those who came to help, served food, sorted donations for Operation Hope, and organized donated supplies for the clean up.
This clean up was a reflection of an entire community and region coming together and making a difference for our neighbors.
This day would not have been possible without the love and support from the larger Fairfield community. While we can’t thank each person individually, we’d like to extend our sincere thank you to all those who came to Jennings Beach on Sunday morning with a smile on their face and with a simple request: “How can I help?” Through your sweat and love, you demonstrated that when given an opportunity, Fairfield area residents will happily come together and help out those in need.
We would like to send out a special thank you to all that helped behind the scenes to make this day possible. First of all, this event would not have been possible without the help and support from Lt. Michael Gagner and the Fairfield Police Department.The FPD was there for us from the beginning, securing locations, answering questions about safety and logistics, alerting residents that help was on its way, and giving us valuable input that was essential to making the day a success.
Gagner, along with Sgt. Bob Kalamaras, Public Works Director Joe Michelangelo and Scott Bartlett, and Joe Rainis and the Fairfield Fire Department secured transportation for our volunteers and took care of all the logistics from the Town of Fairfield. Jeff Serlin from Serlin Limo also brought two vehicles from his fleet to help with the transportation of our volunteers. In addition, we’d like to thank Fairfield State Representative Tony Hwang who offered help both on the scene and off to make this event a success.
We’d like to thank our groups that came out in numbers to do whatever tasks were needed. Approximately 100 Fairfield University alumni, students, and friends came together under the direction of Dan Kagdis, Alexander Roem, Matt Murphy and Steve Parker wearing red and living up to their Jesuit Motto of “Men and women for others.”
Also present on Sunday were members of Black Rock Congregational Church, Boy Scout Troop 88, Cub Scout Pack 89, Greenfield Hill Congregational Church, the Junior League of Fairfield, Trinity Baptist Church, and the Wakeman Boys and Girls Club’s Keystone Club.
This day wouldn’t have been possible without the generous donations of food to help give our volunteers strength throughout the day. Please, if you can, stop by the following establishments who supplied breakfast for our volunteers and thank them for their kindness: Cocoa Michelle of Westport, Great Cakes of Westport, Isabelle et Vincent of Fairfield, Kelly’s Four Plus Granola, Starbucks Coffee of Black Rock Turnpike, and Village Bagels of Fairfield.
Teams returned to Jennings Beach for lunch, which was graciously donated by the following restaurants. Please frequent these establishments to thank them for their generosity: A&S Deli, Centro Ristorante, The Chelsea, Chili Bomb, Country Cow, Firehouse Deli, Luigi’s, Nauti Dolphin, The Pantry, Pinkberry, Super Duper Weenie, Vinny’s Ale House, Wild Rice, and the Wilton Deli. We also would like to thank Carol Daunhauser, Amie Hall, and Kat Mata, three individuals who donated delicious homemade food and helped serve it to volunteers.
Please, if you can, stop by the following area places who supplied snacks for our volunteers and thank them for their kindness: Luigi’s Bakery, Nestle Waters North America, North Stratfield Brownie Troop 33024, Nothin’ But, Pez Candy, Pink Cupcake Shack, Stop and Shop (Kings Highway East), Sunny Daes of Fairfield, Sweet and Simple, Sweet Rexie’s, and Whole Foods.
We would like to thank a few individuals who baked and/or donated goods to the event: Fran Basbagill, Halley Ceglia, Heather Dubrosky, Tynne Love, and the O’Neill Family. Afternoon snacks and treats were displayed on a Sweets and Treats table, facilitated by Amber Schiavi, a woman who took the initiative to seek donations and help feed very famished volunteers at the end of a long day. Thank you for your dedication to this event.
Finally, we would like to thank the following companies and individuals who donated supplies for the event that ranged from gloves and t-shirts to wash stations and publicity. They included the following: Abbey Tent and Party Rental, The Blue Buffalo Company, Hair Innovations, Hiliti, Inc., Home Depot, Joe and the Backhoe, Jeanine Puma, Playtex, Sports Image, Shannon Bowley, Paula Cocozza, Deborah and TJ Lanese, the Sanger Family, Deirdre Kurzenberger, Janice Flynn, Katie Klein, The Kopanic Family, Linda Murphy, Jeanine Puma, The Schneider Family, Brian Russell and Red Shoe Film, Connecticut Post, NBC 30, WTNH-8, the Fairfield Patch, the Fairfield Citizen, and the Fairfield Weekly.
From the bottom of our hearts, the organizers of the Fairfield Beach Clean Up would like to thank every single person that came and made a difference in Fairfield on Sunday, November 11th, 2012. The greatest feedback we’ve received was how proud both the affected residents and the volunteers were of how this town came together as a COMMUNITY. We’d like to leave you with a few quotes from participants:
"Today we were reminded of what the word community means."
"It was heartwarming to meet and work with adults and children who rolled up their sleeves and got entire yards cleaned up in a matter of hours with nothing but creativity, a few shovels and a wheelbarrow."
"If we had this kind of community participation every week or month, our whole world would be a better place."
In this season of Thanksgiving, we are so thankful that this whole community came together to help our residents of Fairfield. We are so proud to say that Fairfield, Connecticut is our hometown. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Katie Boland, Lindsey Morton and Kelly Niznansky