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Fairfield Professionals Give Back To Community With Meals, Scholarships

Members of the Fairfield Emerging Leaders Organization (FELO) served a holiday meal to clients of Operation Hope in Fairfield recently. Photo Credit: Contributed
Members of Fairfield Chamber of Commerce's FELO gather in the kitchen as they prepare food for clients of Operation Hope. Photo Credit: Contributed

FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- The members of an “emerging leaders” organization in Fairfield may come from many different fields in the business world, but they all have something in common – the desire to help others, says Beverly Balaz.

According to Balaz, president of the local Chamber of Commerce, said FELO’s (Fairfield Emerging Leaders Organization) mission is primarily to educate folks as they explore new career paths and to provide networking events that will help them improve their professional and leadership skills.

But the organization, which operates through the Chamber, also strives to promote social and civic opportunities that will enrich the business community, Balaz says.

One of those opportunities presented themselves recently in the form of Operation Hope, a nonprofit in Fairfield that runs a food pantry that supports about 200 families a month and helps those in need find permanent, affordable housing as well as temporary shelter.

Its community kitchen serves lunch and dinner seven days a week, with a hot breakfast three mornings a week. That adds up to more than 30,000 meals served each year.

Recently, members of FELO (pronounced "fellow"), got together to whip up a hearty meal of meatballs, ziti, scalloped potatoes, salad and garlic bread, which they made in the First Congregational Church’s kitchen and then served to dozens of hungry Operation Hope folks on Saturday, Nov. 19.

Café Dolce, Norwalk, known for its chocolate croissants, crepes and specialty coffees, supplied some yummy pastries for dessert.

Spearheading the Operation Hope volunteer brigade was Ryan Pallathra of Nutriscience Innovations.

Other FELO volunteers included Scott Nickel, Lori Jones, Chris McCoy, Jackie Kosiba, Lindsay Smith, Rebecca Lautenslager along with the help of many friends and family members.

Mini sous chefs, aka children, helped with the cooking and passing out plates to guests at the shelter.

It was, Balaz said, “a great learning experience for little ones.”

According to FELO chairwoman, Jackie Kosiba, the group also put a team together to participate in the American Heart Association's walk in Westport in October.

"It was an amazing day," Kosiba said of the dinner. "Our volunteers came together in a caring and positive way, not only to network, but to give back to the community."

FELO, about two years old, isn’t just for young professionals; it’s for anyone who wants to learn and grow at any point along their career path, Balaz said.

Money raised at FELO networking and other events goes to support scholarships for seniors majoring in business at Fairfield Warde High School and at Fairfield Ludlowe High School.

Balaz said she was “very touched, and beyond proud, of FELO. Part of their mission, is to volunteer and give back to the community.”

“FELO is a very special group of people, and during this holiday time of Thanksgiving, I’m so proud of them for coming forward and thinking of others,” she added.

For more about FELO, click here , or visit its Facebook page by clicking here .

You can also contact Kosiba, by emailing her at, or calling (203)-307-4221.

For more information about Operation Hope, click here.

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