Story by: Josh LaBella
FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival has donated $80,000 to Camp HOPE.
Beth Fitzpatrick, the community relations manager for The Center for Family Justice, said Camp HOPE America-Bridgeport is a therapeutic summer camp and year-long mentoring program for children and teens impacted by the trauma of domestic and sexual violence.
“The nonprofit FCTF has donated profits from its 2019 Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival, totaling more than $80,000, to CFJ in support of this innovative camp, now in its fourth season,” Fitzpatrick said in a release.
The camp was the first of its kind in New England, Fitzpatrick said, and offers a traditional summer camp with a therapeutic curriculum. She said the camp’s goal is to help build resiliency and a renewed sense of hope in the lives of local children who have been the primary or secondary victims of abuse.
Debra A. Greenwood, president and CEO of CFJ, said the donation is much appreciated and will help the program that helps children who have suffered abuse.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the incredible volunteers behind the festival, a magical Fairfield holiday tradition that, through the years, has benefited so many deserving local nonprofits,” Greenwood said. “We are so grateful to be one of them.”
Fitzgerald said the Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival’s non-profit board chooses a local charity program as the beneficiary of the profits after its three-day event in Fairfield’s historic Burr Mansion.
Toni Zeleni, chair of the FCTF Board, said the board was thrilled to support Camp HOPE and help make it possible for more than 40 children to attend.
“This is an incredible camp that transforms the lives of children who have been impacted by a trauma no one should experience,” Zeleni said. “All the festival volunteers were so inspired to support the mission of Camp HOPE and help these kids recapture part of the childhoods they have lost. We are grateful our efforts have had an enormous impact on this terrific program.”
Fitzpatrick said the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA collaborates as a partner in the program, and allows the use of their accredited overnight and day camp sites in Massachusetts and Connecticut. She said the camp was held as a day camp and virtually this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The camp experience never ends as Camp HOPE campers continue to work with CFJ’s expert staff throughout the year as part of its Pathways to HOPE mentoring program,” Ftizpatrick said. “With the support of donors, including the Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival, campers are able to attend Camp HOPE and its ongoing mentoring program at no charge.”