Waterbury Walkabout: Brass City cares for kids
Born out of a conversation between former Holy Cross and UConn basketball star Edmund Saunders and his police officer wife, Andrea, that took place during a car ride to a family reunion in North Carolina, Brass City Cares has as its mission, “Sowing seeds for the community’s needs.”
And that’s what the nonprofit foundation’s been doing since laying down roots here: bettering lives and strengthening the community.
“I’ve wanted to do this for the longest time,” said Saunders, who recounts that car ride two years ago during which he and Andrea talked about setting up a foundation. “While I was talking to her, she was on her phone setting up a Facebook page.”
And just like that, Brass City Cares had a logo and a date for its first event by the time they reached their destination. “(Andrea has) been a police officer for 12 years here, and i’m kind of like the local celebrity for basketball, but we didn’t want to just do something for basketball,” he recalled. Word got around that the couple was putting together something for kids to pick up free school supplies, and Saunders said a friend texted him to say an anonymous donor had pledged 100 book bags. That donor will continue to give that number yearly.
“I knew then we were headed in the right direction. When you dream, dream big. I’ve reached out to the people I’ve done business with over the years, and they’ve all been so gracious,” said Saunders, who’s now a corrections officer. Over the past two years, Saunders has continued to be touched by donations from the community, and noted the kindness of one woman who spotted him and Andrea buying armloads of notebooks at Walmart.
“She said to us, ‘You must have so many kids!’ and we explained what we were doing,” he said. “She came up to a us a little later with a $75 gift card and said, “There’s still good people in the world.” At that, the 6’9” Saunders shed a few tears.
And so it goes. After reading Joe Palladino’s Aug. 1 piece about the next push for collections that will be distributed later this month, Scott Griffith, managing partner of Bergin Funeral Home, pledged to donate 100 backpacks, each containing a 12-piece school-supply kit.
“I’ve wanted to do this type of donation for Waterbury schoolchildren for some time, I just didn’t know how to do it to reach a lot of students. I had heard of Brass City Cares and what a great job Edmund and Andrea do,” said Griffith. “I am hoping to help with this every year and to reach more children every year. The Bergin Funeral Home has been active in supporting Waterbury families and charitable causes for 145 years, and I am glad to be continuing the traditions of the Bergin family.”
Saunders has plans to continue the giving tradition by organizing turkey donations at Thanksgiving, and he hopes to put together a musical at Christmastime that will be a citywide celebration. “People always looked out for me as I was growing up,” he said. “So I want to do the same.”
Brass City Cares is now set up as a nonprofit and can accept tax-deductible financial donations. The Brass City Cares back to school event will take place Friday, August 17, at the North End Rec. Center from noon until supplies run out.
Brass City Cares will accept cash or check donations, bags and supplies. To make a donation email email@example.com.