Following the assassination of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968, the rector of Saint Luke’s Parish in Darien, Connecticut – The Rev. Dr. Robert Nelson Back, who had attended seminary with Dr. King – met with parish member Jean Sherman to discuss 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 the resources of Person-to-Person 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 initiatives 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 of the time was of paramount importance and crucial to the agency’s success.
From the outset P2P 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 scholarships to help break the cycle of poverty and change the trajectory of the family.
Since that time, P2P has expanded its geographic reach and the scope of its mission. With offices in Darien and Norwalk, our service area includes the cities of Stamford and Norwalk as well as the surrounding towns of Darien, New Canaan, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.
Now we are finalizing plans to extend our reach with an initiative that helps address the high rate of food insecurity in our service area and provides casework counseling and emergency financial assistance to more people.
As a community-supported agency that provides emergency assistance for basic needs and support for individuals as they move towards self-sufficiency, P2P has a vision of communities with financially-stable, hunger-free homes, with educational opportunities for all.