Update: Oct. 8, 2013 7:50p.m.
After a two day closure of most Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now, (NEON, Inc.) programs, the agency will re-open tomorrow, Wednesday, October 9th -- and all NEON staff have been instructed to report for their normal work schedules.
All NEON programs in Norwalk and Stamford, including the agency's childcare programs, will be open during their regular operating hours.
The newly elected Chairman of Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now Inc., (NEON) announced on Tuesday that he is working NEON's Board to resolve financial and program at the anti-poverty agency.
Michael Berkoff was recently elected Chairman of NEON, which has since 1965 played a critical role in the day-to-day lives of more than 11,000 people in Fairfield County.
Compounding NEON’s difficulties, the City of Norwalk has cut financial support to the anti-poverty agency by $1,300,000 in each of the past two years, 2011 and 2012, which, according to a NEON release, leaves a shortfall of $2,600,000.
In spite of these substantial cutbacks, NEON continues to provide services to the Norwalk community because the organization understands the immediate impact that cutting these services would have on the lives of the men, women, and children.
Like many families, businesses and non-profit organizations across the country, NEON has been hard hit and is suffering economic hardship for a wide variety of reasons, according to the release. However, under the focused leadership of Berkoff, a highly successful businessman in Stamford, NEON is developing a major review and restructuring of its programs, services and priorities.
Berkoff is determined and confident that the board and management team will together re-energize and revitalize NEON, successfully transforming the agency into an effective, efficient and fiscally sound organization.
Mr. Berkoff observed that NEON unwisely was placed in the position of taking on a difficult merger with the troubled CTE agency in Stamford, according to the release. While this was commendable, he said the timing was unfortunate in that NEON didn’t have sufficient resources or sufficient staff to handle the consolidation with CTE at that time.
Berkoff will seek to meet with leaders of each of the eight cities and towns that currently are served by NEON, and, according to the release, he plans to ask them to work with the agency to deal with the immediate task of getting the agency back on a solid financial footing.
“NEON programs clearly are vital to the day-to-day lives and well-being of our neediest citizens, and we will get it fixed and move forward," Berkoff said in the release.
NEON serves vulnerable families in lower Fairfield County and operates numerous services and programs in the areas of early childhood development; adult and youth employment and training; energy assistance; neighborhood community centers; wealth and asset development; after-school activities; family services; community corrections and substance abuse residential services.