Customer Profile

First County Bank Customer Profile: Laurel House, Stamford, Conn.

Established in 2001 in honor of the Bank’s 150th anniversary, the First County Bank Foundation
was created to distribute funds annually to non-profit organizations that support community and
economic development for children and families.

As a mutual bank, First County Bank considers contributions made by the foundation a means of paying dividends back to the local communities it serves. One of those recipients is Laurel House.

Since 1984, Laurel House has operated in Stamford, serving lower Fairfield County using a self-help approach. This is a holistic, community-based approach, which focuses on the individual strengths of people living with serious mental illness to lead productive, meaningful and rewarding lives in the community.

“We don’t give people a hand out, we give a hand up,” said Pauline Anderson, Vice President of Development and Advocacy at Laurel House, “and we love to develop community partnerships.” Pauline is especially fond of the relationship Laurel House has with Rey Giallongo, Kathy Harris and Karen Kelly at First County Bank Foundation. “They truly care about what we do here and we have benefited from the Bank’s foundation for the last six years.” Laurel House has used the monetary grants to improve accessibility for members to continue their education and for necessary repairs to the building.

The statistics about mental illness speak for themselves. 80 percent of people living with a serious mental illness, which has an onset in early adolescence, fail to graduate high school or college. And, 85 percent are under employed.

According to Pauline, Laurel House is doing its part to reverse these trends. “We have an impressive 73 percent course completion rate and with our innovative educational and employment programs. Last year we put 122 people back into the workforce, who made more than $800,000 combined.”

Laurel House is open 6 days a week. “We’re a community-based resource center. The public/ private partnership that we depend on not only fill in the gaps, they help save lives,” she said.

During the week, members and staff join together to run Laurel House: producing a daily newsletter, answering the phones, and preparing daily meals. In the process, members regain a sense of self-worth and develop valuable work habits and skills. Weekends are devoted to the social program, where members can have some fun and enjoy each other’s company. Pauline stated, “Without First County Bank’s financial support, we wouldn’t be able to help people achieve meaningful lives.”

Keep up the great work Laurel House.

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