By Campbell Coughlin
On Saturday, June 6th, Community Centers Inc. (CCI) held its first Virtual Walk-a-thon. The original goal of the Walk-a-thon was to raise $6,500 (for CCI’s 65th anniversary). Thanks to the commitment of people in the Greenwich community, CCI quickly doubled that goal.
Community Centers Inc. (CCI) is a small non-profit based in Greenwich. CCI was founded in 1955 in order to bring together the community centers of Greenwich (previously funded by the United Way) under one board. Since then, CCI has strived to help their clients “build skills that empower [them] to overcome educational, social, and economic barriers.” Their programs are focused on people of all ages, and range from classes and homework help to community building events and therapeutic programs. In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, CCI has been delivering groceries, supplies, and premade meals to families and elderly members of the Greenwich community, feeding more than 170 families twice a week.
CCI will continue these programs with the money raised from the Virtual Walk-a-thon. CCI’s Executive Director, Gaby Rattner, understands these services are vital to the wellbeing of the Greenwich community. “We know that we’re needed by our clients, and that means a lot to us and we work very hard to meet their needs, especially now” said Rattner. “We know this walk took place in a larger context, and it’s important to acknowledge the people we serve.”
The mastermind behind the Virtual Walk-a-thon was Nick Barile, a board member at CCI. “[We knew] that several of our events were going to get cancelled this year,” said Barile, referring to social distancing regulations, “and so I was thinking ‘maybe I’ll do a solo walk, and have people come and pledge X amount of dollars per mile that I do.’” From there, he called Rattner and asked for her input. As they discussed the event, Rattner suggested that they get all of the CCI board members and the local Greenwich community to participate in the Walk-a-thon. “What I loved about this when Nick first proposed this to me [is that] this is really, truly something that you can do anywhere, and really help to make a huge difference on your own terms” said Rattner, thrilled at the opportunity to bring the community together, regardless of distance.
On Saturday, that opportunity became a reality when CCI board members, Greenwich residents, and elected officials walked all across Greenwich. They could be found anywhere from Cos Cob park to Tod’s Point. None of this would have been possible without the support of their sponsors, who pledged donations and cheered on walkers from all corners of the country. “I personally have sponsors from Manhattan, sponsors from Westport, sponsors from California, and sponsors from Westchester” Said Rattner, who walked three miles on Saturday.
As of Wednesday, June 17, CCI raised $15,000, exceeding their original goal by more than $9,000. Rattner’s said, “we’re grateful for the support and the recognition that certainly the walkers have afforded CCI… we’re enormously grateful for the financial support, and I just think it’s great that people really loved the idea and wanted to be part of it.”