If you are from Guilford or the Shoreline Communities it is very likely that you have heard of the SARAH Foundation.
The Bishop family has connection to the SARAH Foundation that starts at the very beginning. In the 1950’s there were three Guilford families who had children with intellectual disabilities and were having trouble getting them into school. At this time there were no resources and funding to help these individuals. The three families met and decided a change needed to occur, so they started SARAH. Those families were the Reinhardsens, Spencers, and the O’Neils. Dorothy Spencer was Jane Bishop’s mother. Jane had a sister with intellectual disabilities. Jane is married to 4th Generation Bishop family member, Gene Bishop. We are fortunate to have this lasting connection that has continued for almost 60 years.
Another direct connection to SARAH is through my aunt Mary Candace Gunther, best known as Candy. Candy was the sister of Debbie Bishop, wife of 5th Generation family member, Keith Bishop. Candy was born with down syndrome in 1948. At the time, similar to the struggles the three families who started SARAH faced, there was not much support. When the Gunther family moved to the shoreline in the 1960’s they found support in SARAH. Candy was able to participate in activities, make friends, and get a job, with the help of those at SARAH. She would eventually live in a SARAH-Tuxis assisted living home as well.
Because of these deep connections, it has always felt extremely important to continue involvement with SARAH and the community. Personally, I have become a coach for the Special Olympics Cross Country team on the Shoreline and also am a partner athlete for Special Olympics Tennis. From a business in addition to financial contributions, we also have a SARAH work crew that comes five days a week. We realize the value that SARAH provides to all participants from birth through adults. They provide families the support they need, hold activities, group living, day supports, supported employment, and the list goes on. Participants strive in the community and can feel a sense of independence with the help of SARAH.
Last Thursday night, the Bishop family had the honor of receiving the Appreciation Award at the annual SARAH Foundation Gala. Individuals there to present citations and certificates of achievement included; US Senator Chris Murphy, CT Senator Ted Kennedy Jr, CT Representative Sean Scanlon, CT Representative Noreen Kokoruda, and Guilford First Selectman Joe Mazza. It is truly an honor to be recognized for the contributions our family has made. We will continue to support the SARAH Foundation and agencies for their enormous contribution to the community.