Over the years, we've had a number of meaningful experiences with Billings Forge Community Works (BFCW). From sponsoring their annual Farm to Table Dinner to selecting BFCW as a finalist in our 2012 Community Builder Contest [link] the group had impressed us with their not-so-short list of initiatives to greatly improve the quality of life in Frog Hollow, one of the poorest sections in our state. And then in 2015, we had another opportunity to engage with the members of the BFCW community on a more personal level.
The residents in the 98 units built within the Billings Forge complex were looking forward to a summer BBQ, but needed funding. The children within those families desperately needed school supplies. We wanted to give them both. Together, working closely with BFCW and the Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) we began planning.
The first group we engaged was the Connecticut Bar Associations Young Lawyers Section. They hosted a networking event for their members to help raise funds for the children's school supplies. Next, we uploaded wish lists of what the students really needed and sent email blasts to our database of colleagues. Within just a few short weeks, supplies were being shipped to our office from judges and lawyers from all over the state. One of our referring attorneys purchased $550 in retail gift cards to help offset the families' costs for school uniforms. We purchased the balance of supplies that were not donated and assembled seven dozen tote bags— brightly colored and customized just for the students in Billings Forge. They were brimming with brand new supplies for school grades K-12.
The day of the event stands out for many reasons. Yes, Joel Faxon did win the blueberry pie-eating contest. But it was really the look on every one's faces as we wrapped up the day. The parents were gracious and thankful that the burden of purchasing supplies for school would be alleviated that year. The kids were smiling ear to ear after a day of potato sack racing, dance contests and face painting. And we were proud of how many different groups came together and contributed to a tremendously successful event. After all promoting access to healthy food, engaging youth, developing leadership, and building trust with residents is what Billings Forge Community Works is all about.