This past Thursday, June 8th Saint Joseph's Parenting Center (SJPC) held its first “Spring Benefit Luncheon” at Richter Park’s Cafe on the Green to support the new Danbury center. This gathering focused on women’s wellness, especially the importance of self-care for mothers, and parents in general. Speakers discussed the impact of finding community and the impact of physical exercise.
Held at Richter Golf Course’s “Cafe on the Green,” the woman’s lunch featured three speakers starting with Crystal Perkins, Director of Danbury SJPC, who spoke about the unanticipated response to the new center. Having opened its doors in March 2022, Danbury SJPC originally aimed to serve 40-50 parents in its first year. However, the staff and volunteers served a total of 104 parents in their first year. Some other exciting developments include the fact that SJPC Danbury is now able to offer free childcare – a major barrier for many parents to getting help and support, now removed. This center also offers an extra day of classes and the Women’s Circle of Support group. With all of these new additions, the Danbury center has been growing exponentially, to the point where additional classrooms have been required. This growth highlights both community need and the responsiveness and hard work of the director, staff and volunteers.
The keynote speaker for this event was Ridgefield’s very own Megan Searfoss, the founder of both the Ridgefield and Darien Running Company. The lunch invitation shared, “Megan is a mother herself and is passionate about empowering women to prioritize their health and well-being.” Searfoss has put her words into action competing in countless races including the Ironman World Championships and the Boston Marathon. Through word and action, Megan conveyed how running has empowered her both as mother and a woman in general and her desire to share her experience for the purpose of empowering others.
Bella, a client of SJPC, spoke next, about her personal experience as a new mother during covid. Struggling with the isolation of both quarantine and new motherhood, Bella shared how she put much effort and time researching parenting education materials online for guidance. By chance, one day at the library, she discovered a flier for SJPC’s Saint Joseph new center in Danbury and contacted a staff member at SJPC; Bella knew she had found exactly what she was looking for.
She explained how the staff, volunteers, and other clients at the center provided a much-needed space for community – one which, according to both a staff member and a volunteer at the luncheon, Bella herself helps to build, as she fosters friendship and kindness at the center.
One of Bella’s teachers shared, “She is very supportive and a positive force in class. She is encouraging and compassionate towards other parents, especially new ones.” In her introduction of Bella, Evelyn Morales, her caseworker, shared how Bella even offered one of her peers a ride home after her very first class at SJPC. It is clients like Bella, the staff and the volunteers who supported her, that make SJPC not only a place of learning and growth but of community and compassion.
SJPC's mission is to strengthen families at risk of child abuse and neglect by providing parenting education and resource support.
Photo shows L-R back row: Maureen Decker, Measi O’Rourke, Colleen O’Rourke Wolfson, Laura Maher, Rhonda Neal, Crystal Perkins and front row: Lisa Randolph, Kate Jacullo, Barbara Hecht, Meghan O’Rourke Newman