A sneak preview of the wonderful new family film, Paddington, at the Avon Theatre in Stamford on Sunday, Jan. 11 raised more than $31,000 for the be homeful project to end family homeless before it begins.
This family-friendly screening was made possible through generous support from Lindberg Marketing+Media LLC, The Weinstein Company, and yOttOy, which donated 120 Paddington plush bears as gifts to donors of $20 or more to the be homeful project. The screening took place in the historic Avon Theatre thanks to the generosity of Chuck and Deborah Royce, and with generous sponsorship from Reba Williams.
In Connecticut every year, 1,300 families experience homelessness, including 2,400 children, half of whom are under the age of 5. Funds raised through the be homeful project will help families on the brink of homelessness stay in the comfort of home by offering emergency resources for costs like rent and utilities. The goal of be homeful is to end family homelessness before it begins.
Vincent Santilli, executive director of People’s United Community Foundation, presented a $25,000 grant to be homeful before the screening of the movie.
“This morning, we all rolled out of our warm beds to get ready to come to this movie,” Santilli said. “But across the state of Connecticut there are many families who didn’t have a warm bed to crawl out of this morning. Be homeful will help change that. We couldn’t be more excited, more thrilled, to kick off this project with this $25,000 grant.”
In total since its launch December 1, 2014, the be homeful project has raised more than $43,000 in gifts, grants, ticket sales commitments, and proceeds from a flash sale of Paddington movie memorabilia and props on Gilt.com.
More than $6,000 was raised at the movie screening from ticket sales and individual donations.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal attended the screening to help officially kick-off be homeful. “This project shows that people can make a difference,” he said. “That’s what be homeful is going to do for lots of children across Connecticut and the United States. Imagine waking up in the morning and not knowing where you are going to sleep that night. That’s the reality for 1,300 families and 2,400 children in Connecticut. Be homeful will make their lives better.”
“We know how to prevent family homelessness,” said Lisa Tepper Bates, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, the agency overseeing be homeful. “Through be homeful we are seeking to raise $1 million to prevent homelessness and to keep families in the comfort of a home. Gifts large and small matter — if every person in Connecticut gave $1, we could help 1,500 families stay in their homes.”
Erica Lindberg, president of Lindberg Marketing+Media LLC, urged those in attendance to get involved. “Everyone has a story,” she said, urging kids to join Paddington as champions to end family homelessness. “You can be agents of compassion and kindness by helping other children tell their stories. By becoming involved in the be homeful project, you can help children in your community.”
On Sunday, be homeful announced a new initiative through which children around Connecticut will host Paddington “marmalade jar drives” to raise funds to help families in their own communities. To kick off this initiative, CCEH Executive Director Lisa Tepper Bates presented an inaugural giant marmalade jar filled with Paddington plushes to Bobby Walker Jr., CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, who plans to hold a drive in the school library in order to educate his members about homelessness and let them know that they each in their own way can make a difference in the lives of families on the brink of becoming homeless. Additional information about marmalade drives can be found by visiting behomeful.org/teach.