Person-to-Person provides individuals and families with assistance for basic needs to overcome daily challenges and access to resources to improve their lives.
Our Vision: Educated, financially-stable, and hunger-free homes for all.
After the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, Rev. Dr. Robert Nelson Back, director of Saint Luke’s Parish in Darien, Connecticut, who had attended seminary with Dr. King, met with parish member Jean Sherman. They talked about how caring people in Darien could respond to the assassination and express their concern about growing civil rights issues. Just days later, Dr. Back announced the formation of Person-to-Person and named Jean its first Executive Director.
Denise describes her role of single mom as one person doing the job of two - “twice the work, twice the responsibility.” To help her handle all of the responsibilities of raising three kids and now three grandkids, Denise has relied on services from Person-to-Person throughout the years. Through visits to the food pantry, clothing center, financial assistance to help with utilities, extra support around the holidays, and even new pajamas on Valentines Day, the assistance Denise receives from P2P has been an essential piece of keeping her Stamford family stable.
What was already a difficult life was turned upside down with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Denise was furloughed from her job in a school cafeteria, and one of her two young adult children was also laid off. With significantly reduced household income, and unemployment taking weeks to process, Denise felt overwhelmed.
“Things as a single mom are hard enough when you’re working. Now it feels almost impossible.”
The sudden upheaval caused by school closures and job loss left Denise feeling alone in figuring out how to navigate this unprecedented crisis.
“You feel helpless, but you can’t stop, you have to keep going. You think of your children and you know there is no choice - you just can’t give up right now.”
Along with many other families, Denise experienced the challenge of taking on additional roles - going from helping with homework, to homeschooling and being a teacher. “Much respect to teachers - it is not easy doing their jobs.” Denise persevered and helped her kids adjust to the new situation, using Zoom and email for schoolwork, and also has helped them through new fears around all that is happening, explaining what they each need to do to stay healthy, and that things won’t be like this forever.
During the height of the crisis, it was difficult for Denise to turn to family and friends for emotional support, not wanting to add additional burdens to those everyone is already facing.
“I know I’m not alone - everyone is in the same boat right now.”
With seven people in the apartment, keeping enough food on the table with limited income became a real struggle. “The kids are eating more at home and the food is going fast.” With four children under the age of six in the house, It was a challenge for Denise to travel to P2P’s food pantry. The Door2Door delivery program, created in response to the pandemic, has allowed Denise to receive a week’s worth of food for every member of her family - delivered right to her door. This service has alleviated a lot of stress for Denise and has provided fresh, nutritious options to help stretch their food budget.
"I am so grateful for the deliveries from P2P - they've meant less trips to the store, which had become so difficult. They're helping me keep my kids safe."
While the months ahead remain uncertain, Denise is hopeful that the new school year will mean a return to work for her, and a return to normalcy and stability for her children and grandchildren.
The support that her family received from Person-to-Person during a very difficult time helped them survive a period of crisis while not derailing her education.
Mahogany Tillman MLK Scholarship Recipient
When Mahogany was 15 years old, her life took a dramatic turn after her father was involved in a serious accident. As Mahogany watched him fight for his life in the ICU, the compassion and skill of the nursing staff lit a spark in her. She decided there and then that she wanted to work in the healthcare field - she made it a goal.
Being the first in her family to graduate from high school, navigating the path to that goal was not easy as she had no one to guide her – “I had to figure it out on my own.”
A testament to her determination, Mahogany’s first step on that path was to obtain her CNA license while she was still in high school. Working in the healthcare field at such an early age confirmed for her that she was making the right decision. It also allowed her to save up some money and continue on to Norwalk Community College after she graduated.
While trying to prioritize her studies, along with caring for her young son and her mother who was going through a second bout with cancer, Mahogany had no choice but to cut back her work hours. This reduced income put additional strain on the whole family, who had just been getting by. Turning to Person-to-Person for help with food assistance unexpectedly opened up a world of opportunity for Mahogany.
“Person-to-Person was different. They saw me as a whole person. When they found out I was going to school, they helped me apply for their scholarship program.”
Mahogany received scholarship support from Person-to-Person while she pursued studies at Norwalk Community College and then during the nursing program at Sacred Heart University.
“Receiving the scholarship made me feel valued and like I was on the right path. It will help me continue to make a difference in other people’s lives.”
When life threw challenges her way, Mahogany would return to her goal – setting her sites there to help her prioritize and stay focused. “I was ok with the setbacks as long as I didn’t lose sight of the finish line.” She credits the support that her family received from Person-to-Person, during a very difficult time, as helping them survive a period of crisis while not derailing her education. “It gave us a way when it seemed there was no way. I was able to stay focused on my goal.”
In addition to the educational scholarships Mahogany received from Person-to-Person, she was recently awarded the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. scholarship in recognition of her commitment to service. Volunteering in various ways throughout the community, she instills the value of service in her son, teaching him “it’s never ok to look away from those in need. Any chance you have, you reach out.” She is grateful for the support she has received from so many along the way and looks for every opportunity to give back.
“It’s an overwhelming feeling to be able to give back. Not too long ago, I was the one who needed help. As a single mom, going to school, trying to succeed in this program – it’s been hard. I needed all the support I could get. I have to give back, it’s only right. I’m going to give back to everybody who helped me.”
Mahogany will be attending Southern New Hampshire University next year to obtain her Bachelors in Nursing, and plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in the future. In addition to her professional pursuits, Mahogany is committed to a life of service and to using her professional skills to help others in need.
At Food Pantries in Darien and Norwalk, P2P provides food-insecure homes with groceries for more than 700,000 meals per year. Volunteers stock shelves, guide clients through food selection or pack grocery orders for clients to pick up.
Through the Clothing Center in Darien, P2P distributes over $7 million worth of new or gently-used clothing each year. Volunteers receive donations, sort and hang items, and facilitate the shopping experience for clients.
In Darien, volunteers provide support by running a constantly changing errand schedule in and around the community. Duties vary weekly and shifts are available weekdays from 9 am to 12 noon.