STONINGTON — The upcoming Human Services Benefit Golf Classic 2018 represents a new approach to fundraising for the department.
“This is a step outside of how we’re used to fundraising,” said Leanne Theodore, director of the Department of Human Services. The approach had been to seek grants for specific programs, but the upcoming event, she said, covers all the bases. “This is the largest scale event that we’ve done and we’re really hoping to educate the community on the services we provide.”
The tournament will be Oct. 1 at Stonington Country Club. It will raise money to help families send their children to preschool or summer camp; give senior citizens the means to take a class or go on a day trip; and hep residents in need with one-time rent, oil delivery or utilities support. The benefit will also fund the department’s winter boot and school shoe program, after-school enrichment and literacy programs and the recreation and sports leagues.
The town budgeted $1.3 million to Human Services this year but about $800,000 of that goes to outside agencies, libraries, ambulance and fire. The Human Services Department itself received $567,360.
The department raises money to provide services beyond what the town specifies. It has allocated about $31,000 in program scholarships to residents in need over the past five years.
“Nothing has changed this year with our funding. We’ve always provided above and beyond what the town provides for us each year,” said Theodore, who has worked for the department since 2003 and became director in 2016. “We offer program scholarships and we would not ask for extra money from the town to support those types of activities, so that’s where this fundraiser really comes into play.”
Theodore said the department has a process for distributing funds. “Before we provide scholarships, we screen in great detail to make sure the family is actually in financial need, screen them for what other services we could be providing, and then offer them a payment plan or a scholarship opportunity,” she said.
For the Human Services Preschool, residents can apply for scholarships for up to 50 percent of the original cost. For example, a three-day per week student could receive $137.50 per month for nine months, totaling $1,237.50.
Theodore said she’s seen an increased need for services.
“You have to realize Head Start closed in Stonington at the end of last year, so we’re lacking affordable preschool,” she said. “That left us seeing an increase in families coming to us for preschool scholarships.”
Many residents also request scholarships to the town’s summer camp, which costs $625 for the nine-week program. Human Services provides scholarships for up to 75 percent of the cost.
“A lot of kids get breakfast and lunch in that summer camp, it’s included in a grant we get from the USDA,” she said. “The program also provides a source of child care in the summer, otherwise [the children] might be sitting at home.”
Human Services also provides scholarships for trips and special events that can bolster the homebound senior who is living on a fixed income at one of the town’s senior housing facilities, Theodore said.
“Maybe they just experienced the loss of a spouse or a medical issue that caused them a setback and it’s really beneficial to reconnect them back with their community,” she said. “Something as simple as a small day trip or a special lunch, say for $30.”
Since the department provides wide range of services to the community, Theodore said, “The more we fundraise, the more we will have to offer.”
As of last week, 60 golfers had registered for the tournament, and Theodore said she was hoping to double that number. For information about the Human Services Benefit Golf Classic 2018 and sponsorship opportunities, call 860-535-5015.