Nearly 500 dignitaries, leaders, and citizens of Norwalk joined Mayor Harry Rilling at the Continental manor Friday night for the 21st Annual Mayor's Community Ball to benefit local non profit childcare center Room to Grow.
"Over the 21 years this has been going on started by the late Frank Esposito, and then carried down by Alex Knopp and Richard Moccia and the first opportunity that I've had this honor - during that time we have raised over $400,000 to help charities in the city of Norwalk." Said Rilling
Rilling says with the largest turnout the ball has ever seen, proceeds for Room to Grow could potentially reach about $25,000. As a former police chief himself Rilling also honored the city's police officers, firefighters, teachers, and members of the department of public works.
"It's not easy changing jobs from being police chief to a mayor but at least he's got a leg up on knowing the territory that he's working with," said host David Smith. "He's a great guy and a very special guy and we certainly wish him all the best in his administration."
"Everybody here is contributing to giving back something to the community, and it's not a political event, it's just an event where all people from Norwalk and surrounding communities that want to get together and help out." Rilling said.
Room to Grow is a licensed and accredited pre-school program funded by the city's school reediness initiative. Currently servicing 83 children, the non-profit plans to use the funds for a food pantry and scholarship money.
"The families that we serve, the majority of them are low income families from our city," said Room to Grow Director Nancy Owens. They're struggling, they need as much help as they can and we need to help them get their children ready for elementary school."
"As these children go through the couple of years, three years at Room-to-grow, then graduate, go on, go to school, succeed and then come back to see us, it's absolutely remarkable," said Catholic Charities President Albert Barber.