New Covenant Center Overview
Expanding Basic Services to Help Sustain the Whole Person
New Covenant Center (NCCenter), formerly known as New Covenant House of Hospitality and operating under the programmatic umbrella of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County, Inc., opened in 1978 as a soup kitchen “to help the neediest in greater Stamford meet the most basic need for food in a dignified and respectful environment.” This founding principle still drives our efforts. Over the last 38 years, we have evolved to be one of the largest soup kitchens in Connecticut and the only one in the area open 365 days per year, providing three meals daily. We also now operate one of the largest food pantries in the state and the largest in Stamford. With our recent move to a larger facility in Stamford, we are executing on a strategic plan to include program components that address a broader range of basic needs, with the aim of helping those we serve overcome both food and economic insecurity. In this way, NCCenter will have even greater impact.
THE NEW FACILITY
Over the past few years, annual output in our soup kitchen and food pantry tripled to 700,000 meals, serving approximately 3,300 unduplicated men, women and children. This vast and rapid growth began with the economic downturn of 2008 and has persisted due to a sluggish recovery. It led to NCCenter outgrowing our original space in Stamford’s west end, but the need for a new location also presented a great opportunity. For some time NCCenter sought to expand its programming in order to make stronger life-changing impact on those served and, ultimately, help them toward independence and self-sufficiency.
Through the generosity of individuals, corporations and foundations, we raised the funds necessary to renovate new leased space to meet our long-range needs and took occupancy last summer at 174 Richmond Hill Avenue in Stamford, a short distance from our original location. The new facility quadruples our available space from 2000 to 8000 square feet, accommodates the fast growth in our soup kitchen and food pantry programs, and offers a more dignified and expanded dining area and food pantry environment. The expanded space allows us to more than double the number of families served in our food pantry program from nearly 400 to 900, increase hours of operation, and store and incorporate fresher, wholesome food. As importantly, the new space has the capacity to allow us to offer a range of supportive, basic services to help those we serve overcome economic insecurity and personal hardship—which is integral to overcoming food insecurity. In recognition of this broader vision, the New Covenant House of Hospitality was renamed New Covenant Center. New Covenant Center served its first meal in the new facility on June 12, 2015.
Our new facility offers the space and design to provide the following expanded basic need services to our guests:
300 healthy, hot, nutritious meals are served daily, 365 days a year. We also provide a healthy dinner to 30 children in a local women’s shelter every weekday through an ongoing partnership.
Nearly 400 families receive 10 days/ 3 meals a day worth of groceries each month. Our new facility has capacity to increase the number of families served to 900 monthly.
Job Skills Programs
New programs focused on the food/hospitality industry are offered for our clients in partnership with other not-for-profit agencies. We intend to expand these offerings to include other industries. The new computer center provides a venue to search for work, write resumes, and develop employable skills. In addition, volunteers will assist in areas such as goal setting, research, interviewing and networking. The additional space also allows us to build on existing collaborative efforts with local nonprofits to identify employment opportunities and help with job placement.
Knowledgeable staff provides assistance to address basic individual and family issues, identify and overcome barriers/obstacles, and provide links to supportive services, such as medical and mental health referrals.
Our new facility allows us to offer a shower, laundry, and barber services, as well as to provide access to personal hygiene items.
A dedicated medical room is available to provide basic medical care, inoculations, and screenings.
New Covenant Center has six full-time and nine part-time staff, led by Executive Director, John Gutman. Additionally, it has a Volunteer Advisory Board composed of 15 caring and knowledgeable community leaders with expertise in financial management, publishing, marketing, sales and more to help with fundraising and operations. NCCenter has a large dedicated group of volunteers who help make everything possible. Annually, approximately 800 volunteers, either singly or as a group from various employers and organizations provide invaluable assistance with every aspect of our operations: preparing and serving food, stocking and staffing the food pantry, fundraising, holiday appeals, strategic planning, and community outreach. Volunteer help will be needed more than ever as we continue to serve more individuals and families and as NCCenter incorporates and develops supportive services to address the multifaceted basic needs of those we serve. Finally, we look forward to building and expanding on collaborations with other area nonprofits to increase impact. Currently, we collaborate with Neighbors Link (integration services, such as ESL and job skills training for immigrants), Community Plates (a food rescue organization), Inspirica (providing meals during the work week for women and children staying at this homeless shelter), and Head Start’s Childcare Learning Centers (offering a children’s backpack program providing groceries on a monthly basis to children 2-5 years old).
Our whole team is committed to New Covenant Center’s mission to provide basic living items and services, combined with longer-term solutions that focus on self-sufficiency to those in need. We will treat each individual man, woman and child as our guest with respect, dignity, compassion and empathy. And we will do it in a safe, trusting and welcoming environment.