NORWALK, Conn. -- Person-to-Person has received a $35,000 grant from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority that will help stock the organization's Norwalk and Darien food pantries and provide financial assistance to families in need.
Person-to-Person Executive Director Ceci Maher said so far this year Person-to-Person has provided 285 families with financial assistance for rent and utility bills. The Norwalk food pantry alone serves more than 700 people per month.
"We are trying to help people who live in poverty or on very low incomes, to keep them in their homes and keep them fed," Maher said. "We will end up giving more than 10,000 families food out of this food pantry over the course of this year, so this grant is very important to us and we're very appreciative. "
CHEFA Executive Director Jeffrey Asher said the organization has given out about $26 million in grants since 2003.
"Every year I'm overwhelmed by how great the need is, how many people are suffering," Asher said. "You see the number of people who can't afford a place to live because housing in Connecticut is so expensive. You see people that can't afford to feed their kids, and I think that having kids and families go with that hunger is unacceptable."
Asher said CHEFA originally planned to give out $1 million in grants this year. But because of the great need from so many organizations, that amount was increased to $2.5 million, which will be spread across the state.
"This money is gong to help people who otherwise would probably go without," said Sen. Bob Duff. "It's going to help people who otherwise might be evicted, might not be able to pay some of their bills, and really give people that last safety net that's out there."
Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling said Person-to-Person provides needs, like housing and food, that a lot of people take for granted.
"They don't realize there are so many others that on a daily basis have to make choices whether to buy food or pay the rent or pay the utilities," Rilling said. "And they have to do without a lot of times because they have to make those tough choices. Person-to-Person makes those choices a little bit easier because it provides those basic, sustainable needs that people have and people really are entitled to."
"We do have people in this city who are really making very tough choices every day, and you're in the heart of that community and you make it easy for them to get services," said State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-Norwalk).
"The whole region is very lucky to have Person-to-Person here, because there are people all over using food pantries, including in some of the towns that are considered to be quite affluent; people who need help with heat and clothes, with food, with basics," said Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-Wilton).