Families Network of Western CT Turns 20, Brings Attention to Child Abuse Prevention Month

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Families Network of Western CT Turns 20, Brings Attention to Child Abuse Prevention Month

By Ryan Stewart

If you are wondering what the pinwheels along Danbury’s Main Street mean, wonder no more.

The Danbury-based Families Network of Western CT (FNWC), a non-profit dedicated to ending the abuse of children and supporting families in the Greater Danbury area, celebrates its 20th anniversary this month, which has been observed as the country’s National Child Abuse Prevention Month since 1983.

The small Network, located at 5 Library Place, off Main Street, is using the special occasion to raise awareness about child abuse prevention in two ways.

One is through the Network’s annual fundraiser, the Dr. Robert C. and Nancy Joy Luncheon, held on April 25, “Celebrating 20 Years of Community Partnerships for the Prevention of Child Abuse,” which honored the alliances FNWC has forged with local and regional communities and organizations, and supportive individuals, raising money to sustain and promote abuse prevention and health advocacy programs.

The other is a temporary outdoor setup held yearly, the Pinwheels for Prevention program, a series of pinwheels planted in the ground in a conspicuous area of Danbury, focused on drawing attention to the urgent need to stop child abuse before it starts. Its exact location in the city varies each year.

Established in 1998 by retired pediatrician Dr. Robert “Bob” Joy (d. 2009), FNWC was founded as the Danbury chapter of the Connecticut-born Healthy Families Network under the auspices of the Danbury branch of the Visiting Nurse Association. In 2003, Families Network became a fully independent organization, and to this day, it is headed by President and Executive Director, Sue Giglio. All of FNWC’s services, which include a number of programs focused on improving the lives of area families and children, with a particular emphasis on preventing child abuse, are free of charge.

The programs offered by FNWC consist of seven initiatives, covering the towns of Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield and Sherman. According to a Network factsheet, over the 2017-2018 period, the number of area individuals involved in the seven programs greatly increased: Nurturing Connections was anticipated to serve 200 new parents, Parenting Groups 50 parents, Intensive Home Visitation 50 families, Parents as Teachers 35 families, and the Infant Injury Prevention and Health Promotion Project was anticipated to reach 5,000 individuals, while the Fatherhood Initiative/Father’s Group included 20 fathers and fathering figures registered per year. At the same time, the Infant Massage Training program continued to maintain its popularity.

As it stands, FNWC’s continued ability to provide services to the community, as a non-profit, depends mostly, if not entirely, on donations, fundraisers, sponsorships and grants. The organization also appears to be entirely staffed by volunteers.

“No talent is wasted,” said Giglio about FNWC volunteers and their work, in an interview. “We’re forever grateful.”

Giglio stressed that FNWC nearly always needs or could benefit from the efforts of volunteers.

She went on to note that not only local participants, but individuals and organizations partnered with FNWC, are indispensable in the fight for the health and wellbeing of children in both the Danbury area and abroad.

“Our whole purpose is to strengthen families with support, and we couldn’t have done it alone,” she said. “The magic is in the partnerships.”

 

To learn more about FNWC or their events or programs, as well as opportunities get involved with their work, visit their website at fnwc.org. To inquire directly, call their day phone at 203-791-8773, or contact them at info@fnwc.org.

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April 18, 2018

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