18th Secret Gardens Tour Tickets on sale now!

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ABC--tour-final-logoAfter two years when local gardens were decimated by violent weather, the Secret Gardens Tour is back, and better than ever! You can purchase your tickets here.

This highly anticipated event will be held on Saturday, June 14th from 10 am until 4 pm, regardless of weather. This year’s tour will include both in-town gardens and six seashore gardens, each with waterfront views. Many of this year’s gardens have never been on the tour before.

New features of this year’s tour include a curated Secret Gardens Tour Marketplace featuring unusual gifts and garden-related treasures, choice annuals and a special Secret Garden perennial plant, as well as morning coffee, pastries and box lunches for purchase. The marketplace, free to all, will be open before, during and after the tour, from 9 am – 6 pm at St. George Church Hall, 33 Whitfield Street, where tickets and programs describing each garden will be distributed.

Free bus service to the seashore gardens will leave from St George’s parking lot every few minutes beginning at 9:45 am, with drop off and pick up locations between gardens. A no parking ordinance will be in effect around all seashore gardens on the tour.

Secret Gardens Tour tickets are $25 if purchased in advance or $30 on the day of the event. Ticket price includes free bus transportation to and from the shoreline gardens as well as access to all tour gardens, each of which will have knowledgeable volunteers to assist you.

Tickets are available online for purchase and at local merchants including Hole in the Wall, Breakwater Books, MIX, Star Fish Market, and the Guilford Chamber of Commerce.  Look for Secret Gardens Tour colorful posters and new logo all around town.

This year’s Secret Gardens organizers have been hard at work planning a very special tour to celebrate the return of this beloved Shoreline event, which attracts statewide visitors. Committee chairmen include Barbara Angle, Marie Berry, Helen Carlson, Connie Dickinson, Kaaren Janssen, Kathy MacElhiney, John Mele, Eileen O’Brien, Patty Penman, Barbara Pine, Winnie Seibert, Susanna Smith, and scores of volunteers.

Kody Ann Easington let’s us know how she is doing at ECSU

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0001614402_1384562121819440_120709549_oKody Ann Easington is a 2013 graduate from Guilford High School and an ABC alum. She is currently a freshman attending Eastern Connecticut State University, studying Business Information with a minor in Biology.

Kody Ann says, “Living with four roommates is fine and nothing new because in the ABC House there were six girls total.”

The ABC program not only prepared Kody Ann for the living situation but also conflicts that arise from having multiple personalities living together. She says that there wasn’t much in college that she wasn’t prepared for. One thing she says that she does miss however is the Guilford community and the connections she had with the ABC Scholars.  We wish Kody Ann much success as she continues in her studies!

Fifty Years Later, ‘A Better Chance’ Trains Young Scholars : NPR

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Fifty Years Later, ‘A Better Chance’ Trains Young Scholars : NPR – or you can go to the story by clicking on the photograph below

Fifty-five boys — all poor and almost all African-American — were a part of a bold educational experiment in the early 1960s. They were placed in an intensive summer school program. If they finished, the headmasters of 16 prep schools agreed to accept them. Tuition paid.

Planning for that experiment started in 1963 at the height of the civil rights movement, one year before President Lyndon B. Johnson declared his “War on Poverty.” Today, what began with 55 students and 16 schools has become an institution celebrating its 50th anniversary. It’s called “A Better Chance.”

A Better Chance now has 300 member schools, funding from individuals, foundations and corporations, and nearly 14,000 alumni. Gov. Deval Patrick, singer-song writer Tracy Chapman and Ford Foundation President Luis Antonio Ubiñas are among the program’s beneficiaries.

You can listen to the entire story and/or read the rest of the story by clicking here, on the link above, or on the photo below.

Sylvester Monroe and then-wife Regina at his graduation from Harvard University in 1973

Lori Harris Pleasure, one of the original Guilford ABC scholars, shares her reflections and thanks

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Lori Harris Pleasure, standing, left

Lori was one of the very first Guilford ABC scholars, Class of 1978. She went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania and then Marshall College of Law. Lori remains in touch with us and with other Guilford ABC alumni. She lives in Georgia with her husband, Morris “Mo” Pleasure. Mo periodically produces concerts for the benefit of Guilford ABC and is planning one now for 2014. Lori met Morris during her time in Guilford, as one of the founders of Guilford ABC was Morris’ father, Robert Pleasure, the long-time principal of Guilford’s A. W. Cox Elementary School. Below is a personal note to the Guilford ABC community Lori graciously shares with us. Go here for a more detailed description of Lori’s career since graduating from Guilford High School. 

By Lori Harris Pleasure

The Guilford ABC Program changed my life in so many ways and I never imagined back then the extent my Guilford experience would be become entrenched in my future. My late father-in-law, Robert Pleasure, along with Joe Arnold, Janet Poss, Connie Mermann and others, were founding members of Guilford ABC.

They were a progressive collective of individuals living in Guilford, Connecticut who chose to make a difference in the lives of promising young women; providing a vehicle to expand the world for six to eight inner city teenage girls intellectually and culturally.  This was “a successful experiment of investing in human potential.” *

I was invited to participate in the second year of Guilford ABC, a program in its infancy. Arriving in Guilford a shy 15 year old, unaware of what to expect but excited about the possibilities. This was my first time away from home for an extended period of time. Traveling from Cleveland, Ohio to join a group of like-minded students from New York, Columbus (Ohio), Philadelphia, and Boston; we were from inner cities with different backgrounds, experiences and levels of maturity, yet we came together forming a bond from the desire to be the best, do our best and make a difference. The differences made, whether big or small impacted our lives, our families and the communities we now serve. Appropriately named, A Better Chance fully lives up its name and reputation.

Guilford3Guilford ABC prepared me for my future endeavors and gave me the skills to handle many challenges.  I not only learned study skills, I also learned people and survival skills. Placed in an environment foreign to me, where the resources I was accustomed to at home were no longer readily available. I learned how to adjust.   We were strangers in this small town and became strangers at home. We learned to adapt to our new environment (i.e. we styled each others hair, swapped clothes and on occasion visited or were visited by other ABC programs). Learning how to manage to live in two separate worlds. We had very strict curfews and initially were not allowed to participate in extra curricular activities. We understood the importance of this Program and that those sacrifices ensured our success and ultimately the success of Guilford ABC. We were required to volunteer at the Hole in the Wall. We also sponsored a fashion show and a Soul Disco (entertainment provided by my husband, Morris Pleasure).

I was blessed with wonderful host families (the Goldsmiths and Mattsons) and an academic advisor (Hope Whitehead). These families invested time in my development and showed me a world beyond Cleveland, Ohio. I have many fond memories of Guilford, clambakes and sailing with Joe Arnold and annual outings to the Ebony Fashion show.  On some holidays and breaks, I was unable go home. I was always invited to stay with one of the other scholars, allowing me to visit New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

This journey was only the beginning. I graduated from Guilford High School with honors, attended University of Pennsylvania and Cleveland Marshall College of Law; the first in my family to graduate from college and graduate school.

Thank you Guilford ABC and my mom, who discovered and presented me with this opportunity. I thank the Guilford ABC women, who experienced this journey with me, providing the synergy for success. Finally, I thank my husband, Morris Pleasure, who continues his parents’ legacy of “investing in human possibility” in Guilford and throughout the world.

Footnote: *Guilford ABC Newsletter.

Lori Harris Pleasure, sitting, white sweater, left

Guilford 2

“Drawing on 40 Years of Support” — Guilford Courier

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The treasures are always unique and always changing at Hole in the Wall Consignment shop, where guests are encouraged to enter a free drawing, going on now, to win prizes displayed on the table. The drawing will take place Friday, Oct. 25 to help the shop celebrate 40 years of supporting Guilford’s A Better Chance program. Sharing some more treasures to be found here are volunteer Bette Beauvais (in foreground) and (from left) co-manager Patty Sullivan, volunteer Emma Stevenson, co-manager Amy Mickelson, and volunteers Marge Welsh and Elizabeth Campagnuolo.

By Pam Johnson 10/1/13

Hole in the Wall Assists Guilford ABC

Whether you’re a Hole in the Wall regular or have always wanted to peek inside the popular Boston Street consignment shop, now is a great time to check in.

To celebrate 40 years of supporting Guilford’s A Better Chance (ABC) program, Hole in the Wall’s holding a drawing to give away a sampling of the type of very special treasures that have made it a must-stop for savvy shoppers.

On Friday, Oct. 25, winners will be drawn from all entries to receive a great gift, such as a cultured pearl necklace, a strawberry-shaped McCoy cookie jar, a beautifully beaded purse, a delicate Royal Copenhagen coffee set, and much more. The prizes are all on display in the shop now. There is no cost to enter the drawing, which began accepting entries on Sept. 27, so stop by soon, said co-manager Patty Sullivan.

“All they need to do is come in and enter,” said Sullivan. “We’re doing this to thank our customers and to celebrate our 40th anniversary of being in business solely in support of Guilford ABC.”

As Guilford’s oldest and only non-profit consignment and resale shop, Hole in the Wall purveys unique consigned and donated clothes for adults as well as accessories, housewares, jewelry, shoes, furniture, and more.

“Every day, there are new treasures. We never know what’s going to come through the door,” said Sullivan.

Founded in 1968, the shop has been operating for the benefit of Guilford ABC since 1973. Guilford ABC’s residence program allows up to six exceptional young women of high school age, all from the greater New York City area, to attend Guilford High School for four years while receiving housing, meals, and tutoring here.

With an operating budget in excess of $90,000 per year (according to www.guilford.abc.org), covering staff, food, utilities, house maintenance, enrichment expenses, and supplies, Guilford ABC depends on funds raised locally. Primary sources of funding come from an annual appeal, proceeds from the ABC Secret Gardens annual tour, and for the past 40 years, proceeds from sales at The Hole in the Wall.

“We have a very loyal fan base here in Guilford and we’re very grateful to all of our customers,” said Sullivan.

Co-manager Amy Mickelson agreed, adding the shop offers a “sense of community, within the community.

“People visit, they get to know the volunteers, and they know we get amazing things here,” said Mickelson. “They also know we support a great cause-educating young women. The girls are here during the school year. Often times you’ll find them here on Sundays, when we’re open from noon to four?so come and visit us!”

Hole in the Wall is located at 35 Boston Street (Boston Commons) and is ppen weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, call 203-453-2088 or visit www.guilfordabc.org.

Guilford ABC House stresses growth, maturity: New Haven Register and Shoreline Times

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(Melanie Stengel — New Haven Register )  Left to Right: Gabby Vargas, Katrina Green, Michael Brown, and Rebekah Calderon at the ABC House, in Guilford 8/28. Vargas is a high school senior, from Manhattan. Green and Calderon are freshmen from Bridgeport. Brown is on the ABC board.
(Melanie Stengel — New Haven Register )
Left to Right: Gabby Vargas, Katrina Green, Michael Brown, and Rebekah Calderon at the ABC House, in Guilford 8/28. Vargas is a high school senior, from Manhattan. Green and Calderon are freshmen from Bridgeport. Brown is on the ABC board.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

By Ebony Walmsley

GUILFORD – Despite living away from home for four years, girls of the A Better Chance House have taken full advantage of the opportunity to expand their education and create an extended family while attending Guilford High School.

ABC House advisory board members have been working to create a level playing field educationally for the past 39 years. Girls from New York boroughs and now Bridgeport live in the Boston Post Road house throughout their four years of high school.

Some girls enter the two-level, multifamily house as young as 13 years old.

Freshman Katrina Green said she loves the house.

“It feels like a home already after two days,” Green said recently.

“I tell them all the time, I wouldn’t have the courage to leave home at 13,” said Michael Brown, chairman of the advisory board.

To be accepted into the program, the girls must show an interest in the house through an essay. Also, their grades and test scores must show promise, according to Brown. “After such a review, we invite a select group of students and their parents to come here for a personal interview,” he said.

The organization employs a resident director, live-in tutor and cook. The cook provides five meals a week. The resident director or students prepare meals as well. All students and the resident director have an evening meal together each night.

ABC girls don’t necessarily come from broken homes or run into trouble; they just weren’t being given the proper education tools to succeed, according to board members.

This year two high school seniors, two juniors and two freshmen live in the house. Six students are accepted into the program every year.

“I think the most common misconception is these students are troubled kids or they’re not good students, when in fact most of them are recommended to us by their school guidance counselor because of their grades,” board member Connie Dickinson said.

The girls are assigned an academic adviser, one of the 22 board members.

“We make sure the girls are never left alone,” Dickinson said. Girls are placed under a strict curfew. The organization also has clear rules against substance abuse, drinking and other behaviors.

Brown said only on rare occasions are girls asked to leave the program for academic or disciplinary reasons.

Brown said name formalities are out of the question. “We’re all on a first-name basis here. It’s not unusual to even be greeted with a hug when you walk in here,” Brown said.

Even in a short time, the girls have created their own, personal bonds.

Freshman Rebekah Calderon feels like she has a new group of sisters.

“People ask us if we’ve known each other a long time. We’re like ‘no, we just met each other a few days ago,’” Calderon said.

Girls also have the opportunity to receive college counseling and visit campuses.

Many ABC high school graduates have transitioned to a four-year college or university. Scholars have graduated from schools such as Connecticut College, George Washington University, Wesleyan and Tufts University, according to board member Winnie Seibert.

Funding the house accommodations and ensuring the girls have the same opportunity as their peers are imperative to the board. The organization runs the house on a $90,000 annual budget, stemming from grants and other funding.

“We’re working on a strategic plan to do a better job of fundraising,” Seibert said, adding the board receives little money from the state. “We put in an annual appeal every year, but that’s it,” she said.

But board members keep their ultimate goal in sight. “The most important thing is we always see growth and maturity in these girls,” Seibert said.

Call Ebony Walmsley at 203-789-5734.

ABC: It’s All in the Family

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By Melissa Dayton, member, Guilford ABC Board of Directors

Cheryl Barbour and Courtney Summa-Barbour are new members of the Guilford ABC Board, but their involvement with ABC goes back many years.

Most recently, Courtney, a 6th Grade teacher at Baldwin Middle School, served as Resident Director of the Guilford ABC House for four years before handing the keys over to RD Lisa Brady this past summer. Courtney’s mother, Cheryl, has provided bookkeeping assistance for the past several years. Growing up in Guilford, Cheryl and her siblings always knew ABC students and in the late 1970s, her brother and sister-in-law (Courtney’s uncle and aunt) served as ABC host parents.

Courtney was in her mid-20s when she answered a job ad for ABC Resident Director. Given her own biracial roots, Courtney knew her insights could help the scholars adjust and thrive in their new surroundings. Plus, she wanted to be surrounded by kids from all different places!

The first year, Courtney had her mom on speed dial almost constantly as she met the challenges of “raising” teens without the benefit of knowing them in their earlier years. Courtney recalls pacing, on the phone, the first time the girls went out for the evening — what if they don’t come back on time? Cheryl’s counsel, while often strict, was always reassuring.

Later, when afternoon coverage was needed at the house, Cheryl and her sister split the time, and Cheryl maintained Tuesday evening dinners while Courtney enrolled in graduate courses. Cheryl cherished the opportunity to develop relationships with each of the girls, not minding a bit when they greet her as Grammy.

This close mother-daughter duo incorporates family into everything they do, and ABC is a perfect way to “give back together.” Asked about the impact of the ABC program, Cheryl cites the opportunity for ABC scholars to live in a community and experience how communities work together.

It is Cheryl’s hope to see Guilford come together even more in support of its ABC scholars. Courtney emphasizes that the girls represent Guilford and do much to enrich the community. With so much to offer, it is important to support the growth of Guilford’s ABC scholars.