Serendipity’s milestone 10th annual Fashion Night Out was an evening for giving back, showcasing some great styles—and spotlighting the important philanthropic work in our community and beyond. Get to know some of the people who are doing their part to make that work a reality—and why getting involved is so important.
“Giving back is important to me because the world is a much bigger place than just me.”
The Inspiration: I was a part of the Mistletok Meet and Greet. This event was made up of me and five other creators from Connecticut. We had four sold-out sessions and raised thousands of dollars for the Teen Center.
Time Giving: I’ve been giving back since eighth grade, helping with community service and unified sports.
Advice for Giving: As the U.S. army says: “Be all you can be.”
Bruce & Linda Koe
Food Rescue US
“Whatever cause brings tears to your eyes needs your involvement and is the place that you are meant to lean into.”—Linda Koe
The Inspiration: Says Bruce, “What drew me to Food Rescue US was my volunteer work at New Covenant Center, a soup kitchen and food pantry in Stamford, and seeing the need to rescue food to comple- ment the purchases of food that consumed their budget. Food Rescue US and their team of volunteers in 23 cities provides produce and proteins that are normally beyond the budgets of most non-profit agencies.”
Time Giving: Says Linda, “If we look back to our time in Kansas City, MO, we’ve been giving back more than 50 years. In Stamford, over 20.”
Advice for Giving: “There are so many needs in the U.S. and globally that it can seem overwhelming to discern where to help. My advice: Turn to what’s in your heart and have it guide you—seek a journey of leadership, sharing and financial support to satisfy the needs you discover,” says Bruce.
Greenwich Hospital Foundation
“There’s always some way to help make even the smallest difference.”
The Inspiration: Many members of my family have been patients at the hospital and I’ve seen first-hand the exceptional care we receive, from having a baby to ER visits to my husband’s recent rare tick illness. It’s because of all of these reasons that each year I feel even more connected to doing even the smallest part to help.
The Importance: Like many of us, my life is always going a million miles a minute being a working mom. Giving back to different organizations helps me to appreciate my community, and pause to remember that there’s more to my life than just my day-to-day bubble.
New Canaan Mounted Troop
“I have ridden all my life and my sister has taught kids with emotional and physical and mental disabilities for over 40 years so I have seen firsthand what a difference horses can make in people’s lives. “
The Importance: We were brought up to give back and to help those in need, whether people or animals. To be charitable is what makes us human and humane.
Advice for Giving: My father believed you should find a few charities that you believe in and get involved—do not just write a check, but volunteer, get on the board, and give your time and expertise to them. It will make you a more fulfilled and empathetic person.
Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation
“Helping others helps me heal. “
The Inspiration: I was diagnosed with Crohn’s and Colitis in 2011. After being diagnosed, I had never felt so alone. Joining the foundation gave me hope and exposed me to so many people who are living with the same issues. The foundation truly changed my life and opened so many doors for me.
The Importance: When I was first diagnosed, I was so scared and unsure of what the future held. So, anyone that I can take under my wing and help in a time of need, makes me feel so good.
Advice for Giving: Do it! Giving back is a crucial part of the healing process. It will help you feel less alone in the battle against this awful disease.
“Jump in feet first!”
The Inspiration: Family Centers is an awe-inspiring, essential organization to our community with its multi-platform coverage of education, health and human services to children, adults and families in Fairfield County.
The Importance: I am galvanized by the level of compassion and advocacy the Family Centers staff, teachers, counselors and volunteers selflessly give, and all they collectively accomplish to help those in need in our community.
Soundbeach Volunteer Fire Department
“I wanted so badly to be a firefighter growing up, and as soon as I turned of age to volunteer, I immediately joined my local fire department.”
The Importance: I grew up in a family that always taught me that service to your community and country should be a civic duty that every American should undertake. I think that’s what makes our country so great. I love being able to gear up and go out to make a difference in someone’s life. Plus, I enjoy meeting my neighbors!
Advice for Giving: Don’t be shy! Just sign up and get your hands dirty. Whether it’s with your local volunteer fire department, soup kitchen, or beach clean-up. You truly meet some wonderful people.
Swim Across America
“When more people contribute, we are creating a better place.”
The Inspiration: I love the idea that 100 percent of the money you raise directly goes to groundbreaking research for fighting cancer. It is quite a unique approach, as it is very transparent. I also loved the idea of doing something such as swimming. The day of the swim is filled with pure positivity, laughter, tears and a lot of cheering. It is a very special organization within our community that celebrates the lives of so many, while making a real difference.
Advice for Giving: Anyone can get involved! No matter how much or how little time or money you may have, there are always ways to contribute.
“You will never regret it! You will make lifelong friends, and be the difference in someone’s life!”
The Inspiration: My involvement with OPUS started the way it does for many: Three years ago I was new to town and was asked to join a fundraising committee by a friend. It was a great way to get to know people in town while also giving back to a great cause.
The Importance: No matter who you are, there will come a time in your life that you need to lean on someone. If I can be the difference in a child having food on their plate, or a family having a roof over their head, than that’s my job. If there is ever a time to reach out and help someone less fortunate, now is that time!
Filling in the Blanks
“Being part of an organization that is making a real difference in our community gives me great personal joy and fulfillment.”
The Inspiration: One of my philanthropic priorities is children’s health. When my friends Tina Kramer and Shawnee Knight started Filling in the Blanks in 2013, I didn’t hesitate to assist them in feeding children in need.
Advice for Giving: By following your passion and making a difference you will realize great personal rewards.
Photography by Sarah Luckey