Wakeman Boys & Girls Club Nourishes with Food and Friendliness During Crisis

Southport, CT - In response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Wakeman Boys & Girls Club Smilow-Burroughs Clubhouse has partnered with the Bridgeport Public Schools and is a now an Emergency Food Service Site. Grab & Go meals, provided by the Thomas E. Carroll Nutrition Center, are now available on Saturdays from 11am to 1pm (or until meals run out) at the Club’s 2414 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport, location. All community members are eligible to pick up meals for children 18 years of age and younger.

“We are glad we are able to provide this service for our community. Since the school meal sites are not open on weekends, we know it can be especially difficult for families to get food for their children,” explained Wakeman CEO, Sabrina Smeltz. “The first Saturday, we gave out all 75 of our meals in under a half hour, so the need is there. We are now hoping to provide up to 150 meals weekly, moving forward.”

Wakeman Boys & Girls Club has responded to the current challenges in other meaningful ways. The “Mask Task Force” has enlisted the Club’s Teen Leadership & Service Groups in making homemade masks, distributing over 80 masks to members of the community. Additionally, the recently launched “Wakeman in a Bag” program has seen 40 Kits delivered to members most in need. Filled with school supplies, snacks, and a few fun surprises, these special deliveries were made by full-time Club staff. “Our kids were excited to see a familiar face, and–to be honest–I’ve missed seeing all of them every day so this was a treat for me, too!” admits Tania Palermo-DeJesus, Fine Arts Coordinator at the Smilow-Burroughs Clubhouse.

Teen mentors and their young mentees in the Outreach Programs at McKinley and Holland Hill Elementary Schools continue to meet, albeit virtually. Holland Hill Social Worker, Christine Olson, is pleased with the way the mentoring programs have proceeded. She said, “The Wakeman team and mentors have been rock stars at getting our mentees to engage in the virtual mentor program! We are so grateful for their dedication to support Holland Hill mentees with the virtual meetings and the delivery of goodie bags to their homes! They have continued to make our mentees feel connected and special during this very difficult time.”

Recent donations to Wakeman’s COVID-19 Relief Fund have made it possible for full-time staff to continue to connect with and serve the organization’s families. Says Smeltz, “We are fortunate to have the support of a loyal community of donors who want to help us succeed in our mission of serving kids and teens. When people say ‘We are in this together,’ they mean it.”


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