By Lisa Capobianco
Several local organizations and two local Catholic schools received donations from the Men’s Club of the Immaculate Conception Church in recognition of their contributions to the community.
The Men’s Club honored the Arc of Southington, Bread for Life, St. Thomas School and St. Dominic School with donations of $250 each.
Founded by the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist in 1974, the Franciscan Life Center, which also received $250, provides counseling, programs of educational and spiritual enrichment, youth programs and adoption services, as well as team building and organizational development programs.
Made up of 15 members, the Men’s Club, which started over a year ago, decided to give back to the community with money raised during various events and activities in the church, including bottle collections and family picnics. Members of the club said they hope to award local groups and organizations with donations every year through fundraising.
“This is our first venture in doing this,” said John Griglun of the Men’s Club, adding he feels excited about giving back to the community.
Eldon Hafford, the executive director of Bread for Life, said he would not be able to feed individuals who would otherwise go hungry without the support of other members of the Southington community, including the Men’s Club. Opening its doors in 1984, Bread for Life initially operated three days per week at three different churches. In 1990, the non-profit organization began its five-day-a-week program, serving over 10,000 meals. In 2012, the non-profit provided more than 35,000 meals people in need. Today the organization not only provides meals Monday through Friday, but also has a senior feeding program to help all of Southington’s housing authority facilities and Section 8 housing.
“My goal is to feed hungry people,” said Hafford, “Together it’s not Bread for Life—it’s all of us working together.”
For St. Thomas School, the donation means helping student tuition, since it will benefit scholarships for existing or new students.
“It gives us a connection with the parish and the community,” said MaryPat Wirkus, the principal of St. Thomas School.
Sandy Amato, the CEO at The Arc of Southington, said the donation will benefit programs. The Arc of Southington serves as an advocacy organization and a service provider for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Its Board of Directors consists of people from all walks of life, including professionals, business people, family members, advocates and interested residents from the areas in which services are offered.
“It’s just a fantastic thing,” Amato said. “We can’t do it without the community.”