Women donate $40K to youth council

The Wilton Woman’s Club donated $40,000 to the Wilton Youth Council for a program to prevent substance abuse among young people in the community. From left are club member Mariann Bigelow, Genevieve Eason and Vanessa Elias of the youth council, and Dianne deWitt of the woman’s club.

The Wilton Woman’s Club donated $40,000 to the Wilton Youth Council for a program to prevent substance abuse among young people in the community. From left are club member Mariann Bigelow, Genevieve Eason and Vanessa Elias of the youth council, and Dianne deWitt of the woman’s club.

At its 10th Annual Wilton Woman’s Club Fashion Show Fundraiser on March 30, the Club raised $40,000 to support a community initiative led by the Wilton Youth Council to fight substance abuse, targeting youth, parents, and community stakeholders who work with youth. More than 220 women attended the show at the Rolling Hills Country Club.

The club also donated $1,000 toward the town’s purchase of Narcan, which can reverse a drug overdose if given quickly by trained personnel, including EMTs and the police.

While having Narcan on hand is a good last resort, prevention is really the key, says Vanessa Elias, who chairs the Wilton Youth Council.

“Preventing young people from going down the path to addiction means getting into the weeds of this complex issue, and that means working at multiple levels over time,” she said. The youth council is doing this by helping:

  • Young people deal with stress and make good life decisions;
  • Parents become better communicators and set boundaries;
  • Adults in the community, who work with youth, spot mental health problems and foster healthy social environments for them.

The Fashion Show Fundraiser featured Donna and Matt Deluca from CARES, as well as a clip from the video, The Opioid Crisis Hits Home, from the US Attorney’s Office for Connecticut. The state medical examiner expects 900 deaths in Connecticut this year from drug overdoses, about three times the rate of car accident deaths. Four out of five heroin users report they started with an opioid prescription.

The woman’s club is thankful to its sponsors, Mountainside Wilton Treatment and Recovery Program, and Gregory and Adams, P.C., and media sponsor, Good Morning Wilton. In addition, Lord and Taylor of Stamford provided fashions for the show section of the day, and coordinated with the club to feature its member models. Wilton donors and businesses were very generous in supporting this cause through enticing auction items.

“We are most grateful to the Wilton community who once again has demonstrated their compassion and spirit of giving, toward this most worthy and timely cause,” said Fundraiser Chairs Tricia King and Kathy Anderson.

Club initiative

The woman’s club initiative will be multi-faceted. One part involves inviting researcher Suniya Luthar, Ph.D., back to Wilton to specifically examine the pressures Wilton youth are under and the resulting consequences. It will also include training for high school students to learn and respond to the signs of mental illness and substance abuse in their peers. In addition, given how tightly programmed children’s lives are in Wilton, there will be a community forum to discuss the research of Peter Gray, Ph.D., on the importance of child-directed play in healthy development.

The Wilton Woman’s Club is a volunteer organization for Wilton women who come together for community service and philanthropy. In addition to the $40,000 raised for the Wilton Youth Council, the club gave an additional $12,000 in 2016-17 to different Wilton groups such as Town Emergency Services, Wilton Police, the Wilton Community Assistance Fund, Trackside, and scholarships for Wilton High School seniors.

The club’s new membership year starts in June. If interested in joining, visit wiltonwomansclub.org. Photos of the fund-raiser by Peggy Garbus Photography may be seen on Facebook.

 

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