Darien-based Person-to-Person Inc. and the Norwalk-based Christian Community Action are expected to merge into one agency, effective Nov. 1.

The combination of Person-to-Person and CCA into one agency will create a strong nonprofit organization capable of meeting the needs of underserved people throughout Norwalk, Stamford and surrounding lower Fairfield County communities.

The announcement was made on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

"Today's announcement is a significant event for Norwalk and our surrounding communities," said state Sen. Bob Duff (D-Darien, Norwalk) and CCA board member. "CCA's 40-year commitment to the Norwalk community will be greatly expanded through the capabilities and resources Person-to-Person brings to this combined entity.

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"Not only will CCA benefit from the best practices of Person-to-Person, which recently received the highest four-star rating from Charity Navigator, we will have a greater ability to galvanize additional support for addressing issues critical to Norwalk and its residents." Person-to-Person will maintain CCA's current programs and services and will continue to operate CCA in Norwalk under the name "CCA, a program of Person-to-Person." "The staff and board of Person-to-Person believe, as I do," said Duff, "that CCA's programs can grow in size and geographical reach, helping many more people in the process." Person-to-Person reported $8.9 million in contributions and grants received and distributed more than 90 percent, or $8 million, in emergency food, clothing, financial assistance, scholarships, campership programs and other essential services. While residents of Stamford, Darien and New Canaan received the majority of these funds, Person-to-Person has been a longtime supporter of Norwalk through its clothing and scholarship programs, allocating 14 percent of distributions to Norwalk residents in 2011. Although smaller in size, CCA plays a large and significant role in the Norwalk community it serves, providing food for more than 260,000 meals to families in need in 2011 and delivering essential furniture, financial assistance and SAT tutoring and preparation to its clients.

"Person-to-Person and CCA are united in our mission to provide emergency assistance to people who lack the basic necessities or resources to improve their lives," said Ceci Maher, executive director of Person-to-Person, and Christi Pope, executive director of CCA. "We are excited by the potential we see to help more people through the combination of our respective agencies. We share common values. We are focused on maintaining dignity and respect for the people we serve, and each organization is managed by a small team of professionals supported by a large staff of committed volunteers that make it all possible." Wilder Gleason,pPresident of the board of Person-to-Person, added, "The boards of Person-to-Person and CCA believe that together we can have a far greater impact on the social issues affecting lower Fairfield County. Not only does this merger bring together the resources, knowledge, expertise, and talent of two well-respected agencies, it makes good sense from a programmatic and efficiency of operations perspective, benefitting clients, donors and constituents alike." The Fairfield County Community Foundation provided a grant to cover the consulting costs incurred to facilitate merger discussions between Person-to-Person and CCA. "We are most grateful for the FCCF's financial support which allowed both CCA and Person-to-Person to access the expertise needed to help make this merger both possible and efficient," said Gleason.

Originally founded in 1972 by the parishioners of St. Paul's on the Green in Norwalk, Christian Community Action is a nonprofit, non-sectarian organization whose mission is to provide food, furniture and financial assistance to the residents in Norwalk and the surrounding communities. CCA is located in South Norwalk, at the "heart" of the area where most of its clients reside. CCA serves approximately 150 families/individuals per week, as the food program remains central to the agency's work, serving approximately 20,000 and 25,000 meals per month, or 260,000 meals per year.

Over the years, CCA extended its services to those who find themselves in crisis situations, and relies on its cadre of volunteers, together with its small staff, to fulfill its mission in South Norwalk. For information, visit www.ccanorwalk.org or call 203-939-1649.

Person-to-Person was originally established in 1968 by St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Darien. Its mission is to provide basic emergency services to low-income individuals and families living in lower Fairfield County. A volunteer-driven agency, Person-to-Person is committed to helping clients achieve self-sufficiency through practical help, advocacy, education and problem-solving initiatives. Programs include Emergency Assistance, Campership and Scholarship. In 2011, Person-to-Person helped 21,765 people avert crisis and make ends meet. These efforts are made possible by in-kind donations, a force of more than 2,000 volunteers, who gave 60,345 hours of their time, and financial contributions. For information, visit www.p2pdarien.org or call 203-655-0048.