Story By: Beth Fitzpatrick
Bridgeport, Ct. — The Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival has awarded a major donation to The Center for Family Justice in support of Camp HOPE America-Bridgeport, 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.
Camp HOPE America-Bridgeport was launched in 2016 as the first camp of its kind in New England offering a traditional summer camp experience combined with a therapeutic curriculum. 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.
“This is an amazing gift from the Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival that will have a profound impact on our ability to bring this incredible program into the lives of children who have suffered the trauma of abuse,” said Debra A. Greenwood, President & CEO of The Center for Family Justice. “We owe a debt of gratitude to the incredible volunteers behind the festival, a magical Fairfield holiday tradition that through the years has benefitted so many deserving local nonprofits We are so grateful to be one of them.”
Each year, the festival’s nonprofit board chooses a local charity program as the beneficiary of proceeds of a three-day event held in Fairfield’s historic Burr Mansion which features designer decorated rooms, live Christmas trees, visits with Santa, a holiday boutique, decorated live wreaths, and a number of signature special events.
“We are thrilled that we have been able to support Camp HOPE and help make it possible for more than 40 children to attend this camp and be part of its mentoring program for the next year,” said Toni Zeleni, chair of the FCTF Board. “This is an incredible camp that transforms the lives of children who have been impacted by a trauma no one should experience. 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.”
Camp HOPE has been held for each of the last four summers in collaboration with CFJ’s partner, the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA, at its accredited overnight and day camp sites in Massachusetts and Connecticut. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Camp HOPE was held as a day camp and also had a virtual week-long component. 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.
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.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fairfield Christmas Tree Festival has decided to temporarily pause this year and plans to return to the Burr Mansion in December 2021. Its 2021 beneficiary is the REACH program of Bridgeport Hospital, which supports Adolescent and Adult Psychiatric Programs.