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June 22, 2020: As the coronavirus swept into the state, the strains in Branford were everywhere. At Connecticut Hospice, frontline health workers needed protective equipment. The Branford Food Pantry was having trouble sourcing fresh food. Restaurants and small businesses across town were suffering due to closures, and the ranks of the unemployed swelled.
Faced with this panoply of challenges, Branford Rotary responded in force. The Club gave $5,000 to Hospice to buy medical gowns. For the Food Pantry, Rotary members sourced, bought and delivered a truckload of fresh produce. And as the needs in town grew, Rotary launched the ambitious HELP OUT – TAKE OUT program, which supports both local restaurants and those who've lost work due to the pandemic.
In all, Branford Rotary has responded to the crisis with $45,500 in aid, an unprecedented effort over three months for the 75-member service club.
"What Rotary has done for Branford has been amazing," said John Sousoulas, owner of the Parthenon Diner, one of the 33 family-owned restaurants involved in HELP OUT – TAKE OUT. "This is a group of volunteers, remember. That they could organize the way they do, and help the way they do, is above and beyond."
"Branford Rotary's compassion, and strong commitment to take action, define the character of the organization," said Branford First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove. "The time, effort, and financial support Rotary provides improves our quality of life and builds a greater sense of community pride."
Included in that response: $2,000 to the Women & Family Life Center in Guilford, which has become a frontline resource as the community continues to battle the pandemic; and $1,000 to Farrell House, which provides transitional housing for Branford's homeless, who have been severely affected by COVID-19. And Rotary also partnered with the Soundview YMCA and the Ben Callahan Sports & Fitness Complex (BC2) for 'Operation Compassion,' which provides free grocery delivery to seniors, first responders, medical professionals and those with underlying conditions.
"Rotarians pride themselves on being 'People of Action,' and Branford Rotary has certainly earned that title during this crisis," said Branford Rotary President Gary Gambardella. "And Rotary is not done. More help is on the way to those who need it."
As we head into the summer, the needs certainly will continue, and residents can help by donating to HELP OUT – TAKE OUT at bit.ly/HELP-OUT-TAKE-OUT. A partnership of Rotary and Branford Counseling & Community Services, the program buys gift cards from local restaurants, helping them stay viable, and distributes them to residents who've lost work during the pandemic, and to families in need.
People who live or work in Branford are also encouraged to join Branford Rotary and its efforts to improve lives in Branford, across the shoreline, and around the world. For more, visit BranfordRotary.org on message us on Facebook.
The 2020 guide to the Madison Chamber of Commerce has arrived!