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Department of Social Services plans celebration for 100th anniversary

Lisa Chamof, Greenwich Time
Published 3:04 pm, Thursday, September 10, 2009
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Next month, the Greenwich Department of Social Services will mark a century of helping others.

Founded on Oct. 2, 1909, as the Department of Charities, a resource for the town's poor, it has evolved to provide a range of services to youths, senior citizens, families and people with mental illnesses.

The anniversary celebration will include a breakfast at Town Hall on Oct. 16, along with the planting of a commemorative tree and tours of the department.

"When a town can give to its people, it's a great thing," said Victoria Anyikwa, social services commissioner. "That's one thing Greenwich should be proud of."

Working with the town's Department of Public Works to secure people jobs during the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Department of Social Services eventually created a number of programs. They include the homemaker service, which began in 1958 and provides elderly and disabled residents help with household chores, and the Greenwich Youth Conservation Project, which employs teens in service jobs over the summer, as well as study programs and social services for residents of the town's public housing developments.

The department began offering mental health services in the early 1980s, and refers residents to public and private programs and benefits, such as energy assistance.

The needs of the town's residents have not decreased, Anyikwa said, especially during the latest recession.

Jeanne Farrell, social services commissioner from 1968 to 1985, said it's important to recognize the department's important work over the last 100 years. The department will be inviting hundreds of town officials and residents to the celebration.

"Unless you need a service and are referred, I would say eight out of 10 people in Greenwich don't know what the department does," Farrell said. "It gives recognition to an essential community service that has provided a number of programs over the century that met needs that were not previously being met."

Staff Writer Lisa Chamoff can be reached at lisa.chamoff@scni.com or 203-625-4439.