Column: Tis the Season… For Some of Us
By Gaby Rattner
The holiday season is drawing near. Yet for many in our community, these next two months will feel more like A Tale of Two Cities than It’s A Wonderful Life.
We live in a town replete with abundance. Indeed, Greenwich is among the most affluent locales in the country. According to the US Census Bureau, the median income in Greenwich was about $138,000 in 2017. Nearly 70% of the adult population owned their homes, whose median value that year amounted to $1.2 million.
And so it is difficult to imagine that working and residing among us are members of the community unable to experience this season as joyful. Food insecurity, economic hardship, broken families, and advanced age will leave some of the most vulnerable more in need than ever.
You might be surprised to learn that nearly 30% of Greenwich residents find meeting daily financial obligations a challenge. Imagine how much more difficult life becomes when these same residents try to shoulder the extra burdens of making a holiday for children who look enviously at the bounty that their classmates enjoy. Imagine trying to create a Thanksgiving feast in the face of daily anxiety over having sufficient food. Imagine seniors sitting alone while others celebrate togetherness with family and friends.
For these people, feeling thankful can be a challenge.
With the help of our generous benefactors, each holiday season Community Centers, Inc. (CCI) works extra hard to meet this challenge by restoring holiday cheer to our clients. In years past, thanks to our local Whole Foods and Stop & Shop, we have been able to deliver huge grocery bags filled with the ingredients of a Thanksgiving meal to families who have exhausted all other resources in the effort to produce a holiday repast. For over ten years, employees at the Saks Fifth Avenue store on Greenwich Avenue have graciously donated clothing for our younger children, the items arriving each year beautifully gift wrapped and ready to be hand-delivered to our eager youngsters. Our teenage clients have received gift cards donated by the Greenwich United Way. Each year we fete our seniors with gala parties featuring live music, festive decorations and of course, a big holiday dinner. Through these activities, we seek to spread the holiday spirit to as many as we can reach.
In a perfect world, every person would have what they need to care for themselves and every family would have the ability to celebrate the season as they wish. CCI and so many other local organizations are working individually and collaboratively toward that goal. In the meantime, as this season of warmth and thanksgiving begins, we are grateful beyond measure to the charitable donors who make it possible for us to bring the joys of the season to those most in need. And our wish for these holidays is that all who are hungry will come and eat, and all will enjoy fellowship with others.
Gaby Rattner is Executor Director of Community Centers, Inc; www.ccigreenwich.org. She has lived in Greenwich since 2004 and has worked as a non-profit executive for most of her career.