where doing GOOD
is made EASY
 
Greater Fairfield's go-to site for
volunteering, donating goods, and getting involved

The Connected Citizen.org Story

 

It Starts:

In the fall of 2010, I was having dinner with a good friend. We were chatting about our day when I told her about an organization, the Caroline House, which I had  visited as part of the Junior League of Eastern Fairfield County, an all-women volunteer organization of which I was President at the time. She was so impressed with this relatively small organization that provided essential services such as ESL, basic computer and life skills and preschool programs for immigrant women and their children in Bridgeport. She had no idea that this place existed and was intrigued by their mission.

The next day I received a text from my friend. She wanted to let me know she had contacted Caroline House, met with them and would be volunteering on a weekly basis in their preschool, bringing along her 2 year-old daughter. She thanked me for the information adding that she had been thinking about volunteering but, with a toddler at home, was unsure of her options.

A few weeks later I was talking to another friend while sitting on the sidelines at a soccer game. She was frustrated that 2 boxes of children's  books that her kids had outgrown now sat in her garage collecting dust. She didn’t want to just toss them yet didn’t know where she could bring them. I told her about Leaguers Building Readers, a children's book collection program that I helped start with the JLEFC. The next time I saw her she handed me about over 50 books to donate to the program. Happy to give back, happy to have a clean garage! Now what to do with the clothes, furniture and computer she no longer needed??

An Idea Born:

It was becoming clear to me, that folks were more likely to give back and get involved if they had access to the right information - if there was one place they could go to learn about all of the opportunities. People feel good about donating the things they can no longer use if they know it is bettering someone else's life. At the end of my tenure with JLEFC in May of 2011, I decided to start a blog connecting readers to various events and volunteer/donation opportunities in the area. To get started I needed to a name. I asked myself: "What was it that I was doing? What was the goal?" The answer: To make connections. Hence, The Connected Citizen.

The Connected Citizen blog chugged along nicely for a few months but it was obvious by the end of the summer 2011 there was so much information to organize and shout out that I needed a website! I put aside my graduate school application, hired a web developer in the area and began working on The Connected Citizen.org!

Taking It To The Next Level:

In early 2012, at a reunion dinner with my former colleagues from duBay Horton Associates (a community-based public health consulting firm), Tanya Rhodes Smith and Nina Chanana, the conversation turned to how to get people more involved in their community – how to make giving back easy. There is a great organization, BAYM, Inc. that teaches High School students in Bridgeport computer skills by refurbishing old computers - how do we let folks know about them? Mentoring a student in Bridgeport is arguably the easiest and move effective way to make a change in a child's life - how do we get the word out to folks who never thought of it or didn't know where to start? Tanya and Nina both had their own ideas to increase citizen involvement, namely One Hour – a potential project to let people know what they can do in one hour a week, a month, or a year and a Volunteer Fair where people would be invited to to learn about potential opportunities that fit their interest and lifestyle.

A few meetings later, we decided to merge efforts and passions and The Connected Citizen.org, where doing good is made easy, was launched in May 2012 as Greater Fairfield’s go-to site for volunteering, donating goods and getting involved! We strive everyday to offer complete, thorough and current information on volunteer opportunities, where to donate the goods you can no longer use, and community events (speakers, forums, fundraisers, innovative "green" projects) so that our readers can find the ways to give back that are meaningful to them and practical for their lifestyle. Our collective efforts whether or a little or a lot add up to a big difference in the community. 

As community organizers at heart, we welcome any and all feedback to ensure we are serving the public and non-profits as best we can. 

 


Meet the people behind The Connected Citizen.org!

 

  

Genevieve P. Halloran, Founder & Executive Director

A life long volunteer, Genevieve has always been committed to giving back in some way. While her career began in internet start-ups in the early 2000s, she always made time to volunteer as a coach, tutor and/or event planner. As her family grew, she dedicated her "free" time to an all-women volunteer organization, The Junior League of Eastern Fairfield County, where she held several leadership positions, including President (2010-2011). She also worked part-time as a public health consultant for duBay Horton Associates, a community-based public health consulting firm, since 2010.

A mother of 4 kids, wife to the consummate business traveler, Gen knows how easy it is to want to give back and how hard it can be to find the time (and energy). She hopes this site inspires others to find the opportunities that make sense for their lifestyle. 

Genevieve’s favorite night out in Bridgeport is a digging in on a pie at Two Boots followed by a taking in show at the new Bijou Theatre! 

 


Nina Chanana, Co-Founder &

Director of Reseach and Development

Nina Chanana started her career in research and planning as a Research Assistant at the Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy providing high-level support for the Head Start Research Unit. During this time she also examined state-funded preschool programs and the impacts of after school child care arrangements. From 2005 to 2011, Nina worked for duBay Horton Associates, a community-based public health consulting firm, as a qualitative consultant. During this time she worked with a wide range of clients including staff at neighborhood organizations, nonprofits, foundations, and city and state agencies. Since 2011, Nina has been running her own consulting firm continuing with most of her previous consulting clients from dHA.

Nina enjoys working with a diverse group of clients in the Greater Bridgeport area and being part of a team that works to improve the communities in which they work and live.

Nina can be found listening to the live music and and enjoying a slice at Two Boots Pizza in Bridgeport and if not, she’s taking in a show at the children’s theatre at Downtown Cabaret Theatre or Bridgeport Bluefish game.


  

Tanya Rhodes Smith, Co-Founder &

Director of Community Outreach

Tanya started her career in management consulting when she realized that what she really wanted was "world peace". After getting a masters in social work, she has worked in a variety of roles, including community organizer, lobbyist, program director, evaluator, trainer and consultant. She is currently a faculty advisor at the UConn School of Social Work and will begin teaching there in the fall. She is on the Board of the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition and has been a mentor in the Bridgeport schools for over four years.

Everyone in Tanya's family has their own favorite Bridgeport destination. Eleanor loves the Children’s Cabaret Theater and Mexican at La Poblanita; Graham’s mouth waters for Moe’s burgers or kabobs at Bereket followed by a Bluefish game; Amelia, the oldest, prefers vegetarian fare at Blood Root and a concert at the Klein. Robert and Tanya don’t have one favorite but their most recent finds include Pho Saigan for Vietnamese, Pioneira for Brazilian barbeque and Taberna restaurant for paella and more. They also love date night at the Bijou and dancing to their favorite band at the Klein (when their kids aren’t looking).


The Connected Citizen's Advisors

Hannah Everard


 

 

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The Connected Citizen.org
1499 Post Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
1-203-816-7718