Home with Hope runs many important emergency and supportive housing and food programs. Homeless people, women fleeing domestic abuse, folks with mental illness, low-income families, young women in crisis — all benefit from their quiet, consistent and crucial work.
From its founding in 1983 as the Interfaith Housing Association, countless Westporters have given amazing amounts of time and energy to the non-profit.
Several are honored the best way possible: by name.
The Gillespie Center is a tribute to the first board president, Jim Gillespie. The Bacharach Community and Hoskins Place honor co-founders Jim Bacharach and Ted Hoskins. Powell Place is named for longtime president Pete Powell.
Next month, Susie Basler joins that august list.
Project Return — the North Compo Road farmhouse that serves women ages 18-24 in crisis — will get a name befitting its former, long-serving and beloved director: Susie’s House.
She was not its first head. But she was on its first board. And from 1986 to 2016, Basler helped turn the dilapidated former poorhouse between Little League fields and town tennis courts into a loving, life-changing home-they-never-had for countless girls and young women in their teens and early 20s.
Basler raised money. She hired staff (and made sure that social workers spent most of their time not in meetings, but with the girls). She created an after-school community service project. She organized an annual educational conference for mental health professionals. She established an after-care program to ensure young women’s continued emotional and financial support.
In other words, for over 3 decades Susie Basler was Project Return.
Homes with Hope president and CEO Jeff Wieser calls the new name “a very appropriate thing to do. Susie joins other moral leaders of Westport, who help us look after our neediest neighbors.”
The proposal was “wildly accepted,” Wieser says. And once the word got out about a special dedication ceremony Sunday, September 8 (3 to 5 p.m., 124 Compo Road North), dozens of former staff members and volunteers made plans to attend.
They’ll be joined by 30 years of grateful graduates from Project Return.
Except now, they’ll say proudly, “from Susie’s House.”
The September 8 celebration is the first of 2 big events. On Thursday, September 19 [11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Shorehaven Golf Club, Norwalk], the annual “Gather ‘Round the Table” luncheon raises funds for Susie’s House. Click here for details.