Smilow gift allows Open Door Shelter to build multipurpose center

By Kevin Zimmerman

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Having received a gift from philanthropist Joel Smilow, The Open Door Shelter in Norwalk will transform a factory building at 2 Merritt Place in South Norwalk into a multipurpose center. Ground breaking will take place on Sept. 20 at 1:30 p.m.

The project will include 16 efficiency apartments for individuals needing supportive housing, a health center which will provide for community medical needs, and a job training program to support skilled trades education, job search tools, and GED and college entrance classes.

“We are honored to receive this funding to support this project and as a result name the building the Smilow SoNo Life Center,” said Jeannette Archer-Simons, executive director of The Open Door Shelter. “We are deeply touched by Mr. Smilow’s belief in our efforts. We hope this gift inspires others to support this transformative project as we finalize funding for this campaign.”

“As soon as I learned about this project, I knew it was something that needed sufficient support to insure its timely completion,” Smilow said. “I’m delighted to be the agent for change for this wonderful expansion of the work of The Open Door Shelter.”

The organization will publicly launch an $8 million capital campaign to fund the Center and additional family housing in the region at Cesco’s Trattoria at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 20. Construction on the $6 million Center will also begin this month.

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