Extra! Extra! How Darien stays connected

Newsletter brings families and community together

By Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

(Published August 17, 2006, 10:08 a.m.)

Nothing gets past the folks in Darien. Since 1996, everything that's worth knowing is known, thanks to Alice Davis, Marilyn Larson and their monthly publication, Darien Family Connections.

Any given edition is chock-full of everything happening in the community: voting reminders, meetings, community events, municipal changes, police reports, church events, safety tips, school events, food pantry news -- everything that people need to know.

"Our purpose is to improve family life in the Darien area by developing family affiliations and family involvement with the community to improve the quality of life for all residents," Davis said.

Each month the Darien Public Library, the Darien Police Department and the Public Works Department all submit entries to the newsletter.

The Darien Family Connections group was originally funded through a grant from the Family Preservation Committee, and is now funded by the town and village of Darien. Each month over 900 newsletters are mailed to people in the area.

Davis and Larson spend many hours each month organizing the newsletter, most of it spent on copying, Davis says.

Their copy machine is housed at the Darien Public Library, filling a need for the library.

"They get to use it, we get to use it, they give us storage space and it's an all-around great thing."

While it may seem like Darien is a small place, there's plenty going on. And to add to that, the group also hosts quarterly events geared toward families.

For example, they have trips to Beloit Snappers games, Milwaukee Brewers games, they hold an annual outdoor movie night with free popcorn, Easter egg hunts, bowling days, parents day out and they even run the concession stand for community baseball games.

"It's really nice to see the Darien community come together," said Davis. "We really like doing it."

The next event is set for Oct. 26 where $3 will get you dinner and a hayride and, if you'd like, wear your costume to Darien West Park and enter the costume contest.

Davis says that people from any community are welcome, but their main focus is Darien residents.

One of their latest larger efforts is reviving the Neighborhood Watch Program with the help of the Darien Police Department -- another quality community program.

Communities of any size could take a lesson from Darien on how to keep a strong connection between the place in which they live and the people living there.

The Family Connections group meets at the Darien Senior Center on the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. The meetings are open to the public.

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