The residents of CLASP Homes of Westport's group homes are Tracy Flood's second family. She and her future husband, Kurt Ringquist, gave that family a $10,000 gift Wednesday with a little help from Main Street Connect’s Close to My Heart promotion.
“We have some wheelchair lift vans that we have had for years, and they are very hard on them. Lifts break often. They are really falling apart,” said Flood, sitting with Ringquist before guests started to arrive at the CLASP offices for the check presentation. The money will help fix or replace the older vehicles.
Flood inspired Ringquist to enter Main Street Connect's Close to My Heart competition with a tale of how they found love on Match.com. “It was not something that was like me to do. It was very much unlike me. There was some unseen hand guiding me,” Ringquist said of his first and only foray into online dating.
His story won, and the online news company was ready to cut the checks according to the contest rules: $5,000 to him and $5,000 to the local nonprofit of his choice, in this case CLASP, which serves adults with developmental disabilities. Ringquist had other plans for his $5,000. He gave it all to CLASP.
It turns out Flood, the muse he found on Match.com, is also the CLASP president. As she puts it, it just seemed right to give all of the money to CLASP because it was “found money.”
Flood and Ringquist are engaged to be married in September. CLASP staff and residents were grateful the couple gave the extra $5,000. After all, they could have spent it all on their wedding. “It was so generous of her to give the money to CLASP when I’m sure she could use it for her own plans,” said CLASP Program Director Siobhan Horan.
Members of the Main Street Connect and CLASP staffs, along with local officials and CLASP residents, mingled in the community organization's Westport office. Main Street Connect President John Falcone, Direction of Communications and Operations Thomas Cain and Community Marketing Director Gloria Tenofsky presented the check.
“It feels good to give this kind of money back to the community. It feels good to see all of these happy smiling faces,” said Falcone. He explained that Main Street Connect adheres to a mission goal of returning a portion its proceeds back to the towns it covers through community organizations and schools. Falcone said partnering with nonprofits such as CLASP feels natural.
This wasn't the first time CLASP ranked high in a Main Street Connect promotion. In December, it came in third in the Santa's Wish List promotion. Curtain Call Inc. in Stamford won that grand prize. Main Street Connect's newest promotion, Star Teacher, will celebrate teachers across all 10 of the news organization's Fairfield County sites.