New Norwalk hub offers lifeline for residents in need of social services – Thehour.com

Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling and Community Services Chief Lamond Daniels gather with city officials to celebrate the launch of the Norwalk community resources hub on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022.
NORWALK — In early 2021, local resident Rachel Menti found herself struggling to care for her twin sons, lacking food and support, so she set out for City Hall.
“I was alone with kids, a huge amount of responsibility and completely overwhelmed, sitting in the dark and rationing my food when I just wanted to go to City Hall, spot the mayor and see my people,” Menti said. “I saw a flyer for the community room, room 202, and met an extraordinary woman and an extraordinary team.”
Through the community room and the city’s community services department, Menti was able to secure food, employment, energy assistance, clothing and special needs services through the public school system for one of her kids.
“I’m so proud of my city. I’ve been here for 42 years, almost all my life. My twin children were born here almost eight years ago,” Menti said. “About a decade ago, my life started to go really fast for me, as it does for all of us, and I lost some key family members. That helped me, step-by-step, put my life together and get over grief and get over myself.”
Menti spoke outside City Hall Wednesday, promoting the recently opened community resources hub, which connects Norwalk residents, including Spanish- and Haitian-Creole-speaking residents, gain access to the wealth of nonprofits and social services providers in the city.
The community resources hub aims to connect residents with services provided by community providers through information and referrals and is part of the Community Services Department, according to a city statement.
The creation of the hub came about during the COVID-19 pandemic and followed the launch of the city’s family navigator program, which highlighted areas in Norwalk where community services programs are lacking, according to the statement.
“Back when we did the reorganization, we recognized that Norwalk needed a community services department and so we could do an inventory of all the services available in the city and help people gain access to them through a one-stop shop,” Mayor Harry Rilling said. “We are here today to talk about this resource hub and announce to the citizens of Norwalk, who might not know about it, how they can access these services.”
Residents will be able to contact the city by calling, going online using a QR code or visiting City Hall, where they will be connected with a family navigator to identify and connect residents with needed assistance, according to the statement.
Through the family navigator program and community resource hub, the city helped nearly 2,000 residents learn about and access services, the statement said.
Area nonprofits and social services partnering with the community resource hub includes Open Doors homeless shelter, Norwalk Community Health Center, The Marvin senior living center and the Community Action Agency of Western Connecticut, among others.
“The partnership we have between the city and our agency is something we are very happy about and take full advantage of in the sense that we are able to help the most vulnerable population, whether constituents or clients,” said Eve St. Surin, community services specialist at the Community Action Agency of Western Connecticut. “There are people living in Norwalk that need help and access to these services.”
The hub was funded with an annual $53,000 granted during the fiscal year 2021 budget, city spokesperson Michelle Woods Matthews said. Two part-time community resource specialists were hired for the resource hub.
I graduated with my master’s in journalism from Columbia University in 2020. I received a bachelor’s in journalism and English from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Before working for Hearst Connecticut Media Group I worked at the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, covering the towns of Enfield and Windsor. I have previously worked at the Hartford Courant, the Norwich Bulletin and the Republican-American. I love all things cats and Disney.


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