Emergency aid and social services from FSW financial assistance programs.

While some short term needs can be met by FSW, the agency is focused on long term challenges. They try to help with literacy and lifelong learning. Some examples of what else may be provided includes free food, meals, help for homeowners, and other forms of support.

The goal is to put individuals into place to achieve personal and economic success as well as to help the greater Fairfield region with maintaining a vibrant society. Too many people in Bridgeport and the surrounding communities read at the lowest literacy level. Many others have some type of challenge or barrier to obtaining employment, such as limited English language skills or the lack of a high school diploma.

To help these residents with self-sufficiency, FSW provides individualized language, literacy, cultural, and job placement / vocational instruction. This can, among other things, improve people’s lives at work, among their families, and within the greater Connecticut community.

The non-profit’s Basic Literacy volunteer tutoring program offers one-on-one sessions to clients that help improve English writing, basic math and reading skills. As a result, people can better learn to read classified job ads, obtain driver's licenses, complete job applications or acquire high school equivalency or GED certificates.

In the ESOL, or English for Speakers of Other Languages course, adults are placed in small groups managed by FSW in order to improve their skills in conversational English. Typically, the classes are diverse to language and race. There is a wide variety, such as some students who are illiterate in their native languages and some who are highly educated. However, everyone in the classes wants to learn, gain skills, often find a job, and be successful in the United States.

FSW is a leading provider of services for the disabled in Fairfield County as well. They can assist the deaf and hard of hearing, offering programming in the areas of sign language interpreting services, education, case management, and advocacy.

The Youth Services Program helps the younger generation in the Bridgeport region. There are adult and youth role models, trainers, teachers, and staff work to inspire and motivate participants to acquire skills needed to be successful in life. There is a strong focus on employment, business, entrepreneurship and leadership roles.




This objective is accomplished through participation in entry-level jobs as well as youth-run businesses. Linking the worlds of work and learning together, students of these different youth services are fully prepared to practice appropriate behavior over the mid to long term. They are in a better position to attain their goals in regard to gaining further education and/or entering the workplace.

A strong effort is also made to engage and involve family members, in order to strengthen the family unit. The various youth services are available on a year-round basis in the Greater Bridgeport area.

Financial aid, food and grant programs in Fairfield County

Grants are paid out as part of FSW’s Homeowners Assistance Program. As funding allows, there may be up to a few thousand dollars offered to Bridgeport homeowners who are at least 60 days behind in their current mortgage payments. However, it is only for those in the county that are temporarily experiencing demonstrable financial crisis situations.

Other aid is offered too. Counselors and case managers from FSW believes that families need financial skills to build assets or access to short term, crisis assistance. This includes knowledge of how to pay down debts and even open a savings account, or maybe funds to pay bills that are overdue. To help residents in the organization’s service area, the non-profit will operate a number of programs that provide education and other support. In some cases, staff offer direct assistance in achieving and sustaining economic stability.

  • Interest free loans may be part of the Bridge Fund. The goal is to pay rent, utility bills, or otherwise help a family avoid homelessness.
  • Financial Education Workshops are held on the topics of budgeting and financial education.
  • IDA - Individual Development Accounts are matched savings accounts for qualifying clients who are ready to establish and increase savings. There is a long term goal of investing in or purchasing assets.

FSW, working with churches and other non-profits, offers several programs that provide home-delivered meals to meet the nutritional needs of the homebound elderly and disabled residing in the Greater New Haven area or Fairfield region.

The service, known as Meals-on-Wheels, brings well-balanced, hot, and nutritious meals Monday through Friday to the needy. There is no cost to the participant. In addition to that, people may be able to get meals available on weekends on an as-needed basis. In some cases FWS Inc. can accommodate specific dietary requirements, such as chopped and pureed foods.





HomePlate is another meal delivery program. This one will also provides meals or food, but in the form of a weekly delivery of seven substantive frozen entrees, offering the same balanced nutrition as Meals-on-Wheels. Or try Family Fare, which is a low fee based delivery service that furnishes freshly prepared meals.

In addition to all of those resources, congregate meals sites are available in Fairfield County. This is for seniors with more mobility. They may be able to take advantage of 20 on-site community cafes throughout the region.

Training and credit counseling services

Case management as well as care coordination is used to identify and eliminate barriers to sustained employment. FSW has the goal of assisting clients in achieving self-reliance and healthy independence. Clients must be referred by the Connecticut Department of Social Services and the Department of Labor.

Workskills is the name of a service that trains adults in skills needed to obtain jobs in today’s economy. The goal is to prepare clients (whether under or unemployed) for the job-search process so that they can begin to earn a living wage.

The Employment Preparation and Workforce Skills Certification is held by teachers and specialists. It teaches individuals with limited or even no work experience the skills needed to succeed in the workplace. In addition, there may be information on possible job opportunities in Fairfield County. Gain skills in Microsoft applications, customer service, and similar areas.

Customized literacy instruction is part of Workplace Education. This will also provide clients with training in order to be able to meet the unique needs of employees. Staff conduct interviews with employees, analyze procedures or written materials, and also help them develop a comprehensive workplace literacy program. This can include job and task-specific training and tutoring materials.




Workshops on Small Business Development are held by FSW and volunteers from the community. In some cases entrepreneurship may be a road to financial freedom. So the organization offers programs to help entrepreneurs and small business owners start or expand their own businesses.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistanceprovides free tax return preparation and secure e-filing for seniors and the disabled that meet income requirements. There is also help for low to moderate-income families, particularly those eligible for earned income tax credits.

The main location of FSW is at 475 Clinton Ave., Bridgeport, Connecticut 06605, 203-368-4291. Some services are offered across all of Fairfield County and nearby New Haven too.


By Jon McNamara

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