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Donations Make a Difference for Westport Neighbors

WESTPORT, Conn. – More than 1,200 households in Westport count on assistance from the Department of Human Services. To secure a grant that would help more families in need, the department is now counting on the assistance of the community.

Terry Giegengack, assistant director of client services, said the department is approved to receive a $10,000 grant from United Way of Coastal Fairfield County through a partnership with the GE Foundation. But there's a catch.

"It's a challenge grant," said Giegengack. "We've already received $4,500, but we're not guaranteed the rest of the money. We're responsible for raising a portion of the remaining grant money."

The challenge, Giegengack said, is to raise a minimum of $2,500 from 25 individuals by Aug. 1. The original deadline was set for Wednesday, but was exntended on Monday. If the challenge is met, United Way will match the remaining portion of the grant. If the department falls short of the minimum, the amount matched will be less. But all money, in the end, comes back to the department.

If the department receives the full $10,000 grant, that money would be used to help families with one month's mortgage or rental payment, up to $1,500. Giegengack said the department's goal is to assist six to eight families, depending on each family's need and resources.

"For someone or a family that's just fallen behind, one month can make the difference between falling way behind and catching up," Giegengack said. "The main purpose here is to help those who just need help catching up."

Residents wishing to help the department meet the challenge can donate online or send a check to the Westport Department of Human Services, 110 Myrtle Ave., Westport, CT 06880 made out to UWCFC Neighbors Helping Neighbors Community Challenge Grant. Note on the check that your donation is for Westport Human Services NHN.

"Westporters are very receptive to the needs of others, especially their own neighbors," said Giegengack. "A little bit from a lot of people really makes a difference."

What do you think of the work the Westport Department of Human Services does for the community?

*This story was updated to correct an error that stated more than 12,000 households received assistance from Human Services. The number was supposed to read 1,200.

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