The Bethel Chamber of Commerce is spearheading a pay-it-forward project called "Neighbors Help Neighbors," to help Bethel residents who are in need of help with outdoor painting and repair projects.
According to Executive Director Heather Hansen O'Neill, the chamber will hold several fundraising events throughout the year with 100 percent of the proceeds put into a fund for the home repairs.
The first event will be a Halloween Movie on the Lawn on Oct. 29, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Bethel Municipal Center at 1 School St. The movie — "Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein" with a yet-to-be determined second feature — will be shown right after Bethel's Trick-or-Treat Street event.
Admission is free, but donations will be accepted and treats will be for sale.
Anyone can come upon tough times, O'Neill said. "Maybe the husband had to leave to serve the country and the wife isn't able to make the needed updates on the home," she said. Or perhaps someone develops serious health problems and is no longer able to work, she added.
The Bethel Department of Social Services will determine residents in need and contact them to encourage them to apply.
"Contractors will oversee the project, but we'll also be taking on volunteers from the community," she said. "Contractors will match the skills of the volunteers with the type of work they can do."
The idea came from Chris Campanaro and Samantha Baker, who moved to Bethel from Stamford last year. The couple own a Bethel business called The Big Top Baggage Wagon, which sells vintage furniture.
"The idea came to us while driving into town shortly after we moved here," Companaro said. "We were discussing a small home improvement for ourselves and the topic changed to, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could organize a charity to help homeowners in our community do the same who may not have the means to do so?’
"We feel it is important that all homeowners feel proud, not only for their own homes but also for the town that they live in," he said. "Our goal is to help all those in need in Bethel through our program. It is our dream to have the program continue on for years, helping the community in a positive and inspirational manner."
"We love living in Bethel. It's simply a feeling we both feel in our hearts every time we drive into town. We love the town's character and charm," Campanaro said. "The community has been incredibly welcoming and friendly."
According to O'Neill, Neighbors Help Neighbors hopes to raise $10,000 or more to repair three to five homes. The Bethel branch of Newtown Savings Bank has already donated $3,000 toward the initiative.
"Halloween Movie Night is our first event to fundraise for this project. We will be holding several more fundraising events throughout the winter, including an indoor concert. We hope to make the home repairs in the spring," O'Neill said.
“Bethel is a town filled with giving, compassionate people. Neighbors Help Neighbors will provide them with an outlet to share their skills, time, and money to support their community," O'Neill said. "It’s a win-win that will build relationships and lift our town higher.”
For the Halloween movie night, participants are encouraged to wear warm and comfortable clothing and bring a blanket or low chairs. In the event of rain, the event will be rescheduled.
For more information about the Neighbors Help Neighbors project, to make a donation or to volunteer, click here or call the Bethel Chamber of Commerce at 203-743-6500.
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