Neighbor to Neighbor Honors The Center for Public Good at Greenwich Country Day School

As the new Neighbor to Neighbor building, at 248 East Putnam Avenue, Greenwich, is being built, Neighbor to Neighbor continues to honor the outstanding, committed people who had the vision and were the major forces in getting Neighbor to Neighbor where it is today. We celebrate their generosity and stand in awe of their strength and perseverance.

The “Fill the Build” Campaign invites the entire community to help people in need by filling the interior space and contributing towards purchasing shelf-stable food, chairs, tables, and shelves. It is being co-chaired by Lori Jackson and John Cooper, both experienced community fundraising volunteers and committed supporters of Neighbor to Neighbor.

“We’re excited to offer the community the opportunity to fill the building and open the doors to people in need,” Ms Jackson said. “We welcome everyone’s participation,” John emphasized.  “A donation in any amount is most welcome. We want everyone in Greenwich to feel like a part of this neighborhood project.”

Neighborhood Champion: The Center for Public Good

For more than 20 years, Jen Donnalley and Greenwich Country Day School (GCDS) have been outstanding local heroes.

A math teacher at Greenwich Country Day School, Ms Donnalley has been managing their community service programs, addressing local needs as they arise. GCDS is lucky to have such a strong leader. When they built the new high school, it was important to them to include service to others, one of their most cherished traditions. The Center for Public Good was created to encourage students (as well as employees, families and alumni) to volunteer, starting from an early age.

Greenwich Country Day School’s Center for Public Good was created to encourage students to volunteer, starting from an early age. Piper Wilson and Stewart Fox sort food donations for Neighbor to Neighbor. Photo: Jen Donnalley
GCDS math teacher Jen Donnalley. Photo courtesy: Chi Chi Ubina.

Donnalley and GCDS are authentically committed to helping their students value empathy and kindness, to learn to trust in their own abilities to make a difference.

“We have always exposed even our youngest in nursery school to the world of service,” Donnalley explained. They look for 100% GCDS student participation.  “The goal is to teach them how to intentionally plan for service. It’s the only way it will become a part of their life as they move into adulthood.” 

For a period of ten months, the Center for Public Good students and families relieved the hard-working Neighbor to Neighbor volunteers on Mondays each week and took over the grocery shopping, packing, tagging, pickups and deliveries to 75 households to provide support and give Neighbor to Neighbor a breather.

The groceries and deliveries are especially helpful to low-income older adults, who had not been able to go to grocery stores in the early days of the pandemic, and continue to be isolated, often living alone. Agnes Morley is one of their food delivery destinations. Many of the students that are introduced to Neighbor to Neighbor through the Center for Public Good return to Neighbor to Neighbor to volunteer above and beyond the required community service time. While the new food pantry is being built, Jen and GCDS continue to support Neighbor to Neighbor.

In the giving spirit of the Center for Public Good, Neighbor to Neighbor is asking the greater Greenwich community to help “Fill the Build” by donating toward chairs, tables, supplies, shelving units and non-perishable food items. It is very simple to shop for the items you wish to donate and securely pay online.

For more info or to donate:

Greenwich Country Day School’s Center for Public Good was created to encourage students to volunteer, starting from an early age. Annie Noble sorts food donations. Photo: Jen Donnalley

The Need in Greenwich:

Over the course of the pandemic, there has been an unprecedented increase in need for access to nutritious food, even as the pandemic slowly eases. Hunger and food insecurity affect many people in Greenwich: 20%+ of residents lack the income needed to cover basic necessities, and 28% of Greenwich Public School students qualify for free or subsidized lunches. Experiencing food insecurity at a young age can have lasting effects on children’s development, health and well-being, especially if families have to choose between food and medical care.

Neighbor to Neighbor staff and volunteers have been providing food assistance to approximately 500 Greenwich family households each week, working in a temporary space at the North Greenwich Congregational Church while their new building is under construction.

About Neighbor to Neighbor:

Neighbor to Neighbor is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that seeks to improve the lives of financially challenged residents throughout the Greenwich area. Individual clients are recommended by social services or other organizations and currently receive groceries via delivery partnerships.

The spacious, light-filled environment is ADA compliant and has many sustainable design features: an energy efficient building envelope,

a high-efficiency heating and cooling system, and LED lighting.

The building is designed for smooth, easy, and safe accessibility.

Neighbor to Neighbor offers nutritious shelf stable foods and fresh groceries to promote health and well-being. In the new space, Neighbor plans to gradually transition the food pantry back to their existing client choice model and continue with special distributions (other than food) including children’s jackets, pajamas, sheets, blankets, towels, personal hygiene products, and household cleaning products.