Nonprofit helps teenagers get a better education

ABC of Wilton, a nonprofit educational charity for underprivileged children, recently added three new students to its girls house in Wilton, along with a new residential director.

The new students are from New York City and include freshmen Adriana Deonarine and Lia Tavarez and sophomore Monei Walker. The new residential director is Cynthia Malizia, who took on the role in late August.

ABC of Wilton has both a boys and girls house and a total of 14 students. Wilton's is one of 22 community-supported, residential ABC programs in the country.

While the majority of the 309 ABC-affiliated programs are at boarding schools, Wilton's program has been effectively administered at Wilton High School.

The program is regarded as highly competitive, and seeks to find students who show signs of being "academically promising, disadvantaged students." ABC then aims to give selected students an educational opportunity they would otherwise not get at home.

The new students have all said their greatest surprise at Wilton High is how friendly and helpful their fellow students have been.

All three girls have already begun involvement with extracurricular activities: Monei is a member of the girls swim team; Adriana is running cross-country and hopes to continue running for the high school during the indoor and outdoor track season; and Lia has joined various high school clubs.

The girls learned about ABC while attending New York City public schools and becoming more aware of academic enrichment programs. Adriana has had her sights set on the ABC program since she was in fourth grade, according to information supplied by ABC.

Ms. Malizia comes to ABC of Wilton from Springfield, Pa., and has a background in social work and health-care consulting and management.

Turning her interest to education, she researched ABC's national program and became interested in becoming a residential director, and has since grown close with the six ABC girls who often refer to her affectionately as "House Mom."

The most difficult challenges Ms. Malizia will face this year are helping the new girls settle into school and in their living conditions, guiding senior girls through the college application process while ensuring they enjoy their final year in Wilton.

For more information on ABC of Wilton or how to become more involved, email John Klein at