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February 9, 2009

TGWNN Happy Hour for n2n LifeLine

It started out as an idea to have a happy hour at Dolci, a new restaurant/lounge in New Haven. It seemed like the perfect location, and a good way to get out the word to those who hadn't yet been there. But what began as a purely social event took on much more meaning.

I became a member of The Group with No Name (TGWNN) when I moved to New Haven in 2006, while looking for ways to meet other local, young professionals. TGWNN describes itself as a way to turn residents into citizens through social, civic, and educational activities that increase their understanding of and commitment to city issues and city life. While my idea for a TGWNN happy hour initially was much less ambitious--I just wanted an excuse to gather together friends)--it ended up being a rewarding way to help the New Haven community.

As a social worker in a New Haven school, I have been witnessing how problems with the economy are affecting local families, especially those that rely on social service agencies for their basic needs. Many of the families I work with have received some kind of assistance--whether it be food from local pantries or housing in shelters. These families are often dealing with multiple other stressors; they should not also have to worry about where they will be living or where their next meal is coming from. It's frustrating for me to see how these families are being affected yet not be able to do anything concrete to reduce their stress. I feel good knowing that, through the efforts of the United Way and the Jewish Federation, there will continue to be funding for these basic, immediate needs.

Did you know that:

* In New Haven there has been an increase of almost 13% in the number of homeless single women. Women are also losing their children to foster care once they are no longer able to provide shelter.

* In New Haven there has been a 5% increase in homeless individuals and in Connecticut a 13% increase in families this year, compared to last year.

But there are ways that we can help. Host a fundraising party, happy hour, or similar event with friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. It really was effortless to organize, and made me feel more connected to my community. The economic crisis is affecting everyone; we have an obligation to help our neighbors, but it's also possible to have fun while raising awareness.

Submitted by
Su-Lin Carbonelli

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