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Dozens Learn About FONS Over Membership Dinner



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Around 110 people attended the Friends of Newtown Seniors (FONS) Membership Dinner held on Thursday, April 11 at the Newtown Community Center.

The goal of the event was for FONS to share their mission and accomplishments, plans and programs for the future, and what they hope to achieve with the help of new volunteers. To FONS Board Member Beverly Bennett-Schaedler, the event was a “rebirth” of the organization.

“We’ve done a lot of stuff behind the scenes, and it’s very frustrating to hear people say ‘who?’ and not know what you do. And I think that this is the beginning of [more people knowing who we are],” Bennett-Schaedler said. “We’re so excited to reach out to people who are interested in helping us and seeing what they want to do.”

FONS Secretary Annmarie Durkin says that she was on a small committee of people who started planning and setting up the membership dinner months ago.

She went on to say that they “didn’t know what to expect” since FONS had not had a membership meeting in a long while. Even though FONS was organized in 2016, to her and the other members, it felt like not a lot of people in the community were aware of the organization or what they did.

“So we thought what better way to spread the word and let people know more about what we do than have a membership meeting and invite our senior population to attend,” Durkin said. “And from there, it kind of expanded. Because of the generosity of all the local businesses, it became much more than just a meeting, it was a nice evening out for everyone ... It really exceeded our expectations.”

According to Bennett-Schaedler and Durkin, everything for the event was donated by local businesses. Each table was decorated with silverware and blue linens courtesy of Durant’s Party Rentals, wine bottles donated by Yankee Wine & Spirits, and floral centerpieces from Hollandia Nurseries.

Attendees also helped themselves to a dinner buffet provided by Church Hill Village, which featured Caesar salad, chicken francese, and penne alla vodka, alongside bread rolls, brownies, and cookies. Additional food and drink donations were made by Big Y, Stop & Shop, Caraluzzi’s, ShopRite, Stew Leonard’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Costco, and Pepsi.

“We were very fortunate to offer everything that we could for the event. Everybody was just very supportive,” Durkin said.

Zach Macey played on the piano as people poured into the meeting room of the community center. After socializing over buffet dinner and desserts, FONS Founder and President John Boccuzzi Sr opened the discussion portion of the event by thanking everyone for coming out and detailing the history and purpose of the organization.

“We provide services to seniors,” Boccuzzi said. “We deliver advocacy, we deliver services, and we do it by partnering with anyone who is interested in helping our seniors.”

Bennett-Schaedler spoke next and was very excited to announce that FONS had recently launched their Newtown Rides program, where FONS volunteer drivers pick up seniors 55 and older and take them to “anywhere they want in Newtown.” FONS hopes that the program will give seniors who might otherwise be unable to get out of the house a chance to go out and do what they want for their “special day.”

Other speakers included FONS board members Frank Monette, who spoke about AARP’s HomeFit safety program, and Janice Garten, who spoke about various FONS committees. Some attendees also wrote on membership meeting cards where they could fill out questions on what they wanted to see in the community, what their main concerns are for Newtown. FONS Board Member Ned Simpson also went around with a microphone and asked attendees about their concerns in town. Several seniors expressed concerns about housing, transportation, and lack of medical providers in Newtown.

The program ended with a raffle of various items such as restaurant gift cards, movie theater tickets, floral centerpieces, and more. All of these items were also donated by local businesses.

After getting feedback from seniors at the event, Durkin says that FONS is trying to figure out their “next steps” moving forward.

“Now that we’ve got feedback from the members on those meeting cards, we’re compiling our data, getting statistics together, and figuring out how we can help in the housing, transportation, and medical areas, which seem to be the things that people were most concerned about,” Durkin said. “We’re just seeing if there’s anything else FONS can do in terms of addressing the needs of the community.”

Boccuzzi submitted a letter to the editor that appeared in the Friday, April 19 edition of The Newtown Bee, expressing his gratitude for the “highly successful membership meeting and dinner” and especially for the many local businesses who supported the event.

“The generosity of local businesses allowed FONS to provide an extraordinary evening for 110 members,” Boccuzzi wrote. “Thank you to all the businesses who donated so generously. Clearly, local businesses support our senior population.”

To learn more about FONS, call 203-430-0633, email info@FriendsOfNewtownSeniors.org, or visit friendsofnewtownseniors.org or find Friends of Newtown Seniors on Facebook.


Reporter Jenna Visca can be reached at jenna@thebee.com.

Around 110 people showed up to the FONS Membership Dinner held on Thursday, April 11 at Newtown Community Center to learn more about the nonprofit organization. Everyone sat together at tables and treated themselves to food donated by various local businesses. —Bee Photo, Visca
Attendees help themselves to the buffet dinner provided at the event. —Bee Photo, Visca
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