Tracy Flood, President of CLASP Homes of Westport on Thursday evening cut the ribbon to open its newly renovated Daniel E. Offutt Arts and Education Community Center in Bridgeport.
CLASP is a non-profit providing homes, support and opportunities for adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Mr. Offutt was a Weston artist and philanthropist whose legacy gift provided the funding for the purchase of the 9,500 square foot former Temple Agudas Achim building in Bridgeport.
Ms. Flood opened the formal portion of the evening, saying this building “knocked our socks off, with more space than we dreamt of,” space for a gym, an art studio, a music space, a computer room, as well as garden and outdoor recreation areas.
She added, “It will make people want to wake up in the morning looking forward to having something to do.”
Board Chair Julie McNamee followed, saying “We are all here because of a dream that has come true… to improve and expand… the lives of our clients with art, music, gardening… You are standing in our dream… (and helping us) advocate for people with little voice of their own.”
She expressed CLASP’s gratitude to Dan Offutt, “a generous, generous man,” and thanked former board chair Dick Orenstein for performing the complex tasks necessary to make Mr. Offutt’s wish a reality.
Ms. McNamee also lauded Ms. Flood, “an organization is only as good as its leader, and we are fortunate to have her.” Turning to Ms. Flood, she said “We appreciate all you’ve done.”
State Senators Tony Hwang and Will Haskell joined in the celebration, assisted with the ribbon cutting and offered their appreciation of CLASP. Hwang noted that this is another expression of a community taking care of its own, and called the Offutt Center a “labor of love.” He added that CLASP benefits from a “profound connection between its clients and their family members, its employees and the board.”
He noted that non-profits such as CLASP provide highly personalized care at some 40 percent of the state of Connecticut’s cost to provide similar services.
Haskell added that CLASP should be a model. Its many years of success evidences the fact that they are doing many things right, “We should find out what they’re doing right and replicate them wherever we can… CLASP is a model.”
Photos by Roy Fuchs