Last month, the board of the Fairfield County Community Foundation voted to grant $30,000 to Person-to-Person to fund a new initiative the agency is launching to reach individuals and families in need of emergency assistance.

Based upon findings from a strategic assessment of the agency's programs and services, which identified specific barriers that limit a person's ability to achieve self-sufficiency and demonstrated that an in-depth collaborative effort would offer the opportunity for a person to overcome a significant number of these barriers, Person-to-Person is launching the Outreach and Innovation program.

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Through this pilot program, a bilingual (English/Spanish) caseworker will be located at Domus in Stamford for three half-days each week. Working alongside Domus family advocates and the community outreach worker, the P2P caseworker will offer on-the-spot access to services available at Person-to-Person -- including assessments, referrals to the agency's Emergency Food Pantry, appointments at the P2P Clothing Center, determining how best to meet the client's immediate emergency financial needs and scheduling future casework appointments. The P2P caseworker also will work to identify those clients who will benefit from more intensive work, which will be offered in conjunction with the services provided by Domus family advocates and, when appropriate, will focus on vocational counseling and include referrals made to job-training programs.

Marina Thomas, P2P Director of Social Services, points out that Domus often refers clients to Person-to-Person, as do many social services agencies in the area. But for a variety of reasons, the clients do not always take the next step by contacting P2P. "With a P2P caseworker onsite at Domus, we will not only eliminate one of the hurdles, we will also be able to provide much-needed assistance almost immediately," she said.

The Fairfield County Community Foundation has long supported the P2P mission and programs, and the funding for this pilot program is particularly welcome. "With this grant, we will be able to reach -- and help -- more people providing them with the basic necessities and resources to improve their lives," she said.

The Fairfield County Community Foundation promotes the growth of community and regional philanthropy to improve the quality of life throughout Fairfield County. For more information, visit www.fccfoundation.org.

Person-to-Person, Inc., a non-profit agency, was originally established in 1968 by St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Darien.

For more ore information, visit www.p2pdarien.org.