Following the assassination of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, The Rev. Dr. Robert Nelson Back, rector of Saint Luke’s Parish in Darien Connecticut, who had attended seminary with Dr. King, met with Jean Sherman, a member of the parish. They talked about how caring people in Darien could express their concern about and respond to the assassination as well as growing civil rights issues. In a letter dated April 18, 1968 Dr. Back announced the formation of Person-to-Person and named Jean its first director.
The idea was to use Person-to-Person’s resources to help those in need and help others learn about the impact of poverty and injustice. The guidelines included opening and maintaining dialogues which would lead to reconciliation and justice. Volunteers interviewed social workers, counselors, clergy and community leaders, and studied which agencies, programs and projects in the Stamford-Darien-Norwalk area depended on volunteer help, what type of help the clients needed, and what factors contributed to the areas of concern. The volunteers also were told by those they interviewed that educating themselves about the critical issues and opportunities was of paramount importance.
From the outset Person-to-Person began by helping and educating. The efforts to help began with food and clothing and grew to include financial assistance for emergencies, camperships so children would be safe during the summer while their parents worked and college scholarship aid to help break the cycle of poverty.