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Among his other community connections, Dan Armin is a board member of Community Dining Room (CDR) who helped spearhead the recent expansion of CDR’s North Branford/Northford home delivery service, which is now operating out of a new satellite location at St. Andrews Church in Northford. (Photo by Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
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With a great track record of helping his hometown and helping others, Dan Armin is the perfect person to spearhead the expansion of the North Branford homebound home meals delivery program for Branford-based Community Dining Room (CDR).
The weekly home delivery program, available for the past five years in North Branford as a CDR satellite based out of First Congregational Church, has been growing and needed to find a new location. About a month ago, with a big assist from Dan, the satellite program began operating out of its new home—and larger kitchen space—at St. Andrews Church hall in Northford.
The new location not only dovetails neatly with another non-profit organization based out of the site, Food Pantry of North Branford, but also creates an opportunity to expand the number of North Branford and Northford residents who can be served by CDR home delivery. In recent years, the number of North Branford residents supported by the CDR program grew from an average of 35 per week to 50 per week.
“Last year we delivered 2,000 meals,” says Dan, a North Branford resident and CDR board member. “It showed that we had a need. And I really think that we should be able to expand our services and expand our scope.”
CDR Executive Director Judy Barron said the successful effort to find a new home is due to the fact that Dan knew his hometown and “ran with the idea.”
“He connected us all together,” says Barron of the collaboration between the church, which provides its kitchen space to the CDR program, and the volunteers at Food Pantry of North Branford, which also uses a portion of the church building to serve community needs through its programming.
“I’m so excited to be there. It’s becoming what we envisioned it to be,” says Barron. “We were small, and now this going to allow for a huge expansion. We’re hoping to do a ribbon cutting there next month.”
In the past, North Branford residents with short-term needs (recovering from surgery, for example) could receive a hot meal and a frozen meal delivered once per week. Now, the service, which has been changed from Tuesday to Wednesday, will look to more readily service long-term homebound residents, such as seniors who may otherwise be shut in, and also expects to grow to be able to extend the service to two days per week in the future.
The North Branford program currently has about a dozen volunteers (cooks and drivers), but more are needed to help fill roles as that will help the new program grow. Interested volunteers can call Tabby Brown at 203-488-9750 or plan to attend CDR’s Call for Volunteers, which takes place Wednesday, Feb. 19 from 6 to 7 p.m. at CDR, located at 30 Harrison Avenue in Branford.
Dan joined the CDR board in November 2018 and before that, he volunteered to help out at CDR. He’s also a long-serving member of the North Branford Economic Development Commission (EDC) and a past elected member of the North Branford Town Council (2015 to ‘17). In addition, Dan serves on the board of Totoket TV. He’s also a proud member of the Branford Exchange Club, which he says does much to support the needs of women and children.
Barron credits Dan for also connecting Branford Exchange Club with CDR as a supporting organization. Most recently, the Branford Exchange Club donated $500 to CDR during the holidays.
A North Branford resident since 1999, work brought Dan to this area from Cleveland, Ohio with his family. He says he got involved with his new hometown because he wanted “a sense of connection.”
Many North Branford residents may also recognize Dan from his North Branford/Northford-focused show on Totoket TV, I Wanna Know with Dan Armin.
“What I learned [as a council member] is that people think they pay too much in taxes, but they don’t know where their tax dollars go or who’s running the system in their own hometown, so I started the show to kind of identify who’s doing what for you,” says Dan. “And now, it’s going to spread into business, and what are businesses doing locally and what are their histories. So it’s kind of an education for me and hopefully for other people, too.”
The very first involvement in his community by Dan was to become a member of the town’s Hazardous Waste/Recycling Committee. Along those lines, he notes one of the highlights of moving the North Branford CDR satellite site is that it can now begin following CDR’s Branford-based go-green initiative, with re-usable packaging aimed to be in use for North Branford home delivery beginning in March.
Dan is also a fan of the benefits of regionalization, which is a specific attribute of the services provided by CDR, as its numerous programs are there to serve those in need from the towns of East Haven to Old Saybrook. (Learn more about all of the programs offered by CDR at www.communitydiningroom.org )
“For these small towns, our only hope for survival is regionalization,” Dan says. “It reduces our expenses, it expands our scope, and it can help us to identify our needs much more efficiently.”
Like his other areas of service to his hometown, Dan says his participation as a CDR volunteer and now, as a CDR board member, is a great way to help others.
“This, for me, is about my connection to the community; and fulfilling what I think my obligation is to try and make somebody’s life better,” he says.
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