Greenwich Look

Fall 2016

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l aurie Grauer was on a quest: she was looking for an organization where she could make a difference. It was 1991 and Laurie and her husband Peter had just arrived in Greenwich from Manhattan. Peter would eventually go on to become Chairman of Bloomberg LP, a role he currently holds, while Laurie made her mark at Family Centers. In turn, she has positively impacted the lives of countless children and families in the area. When she first started living in Greenwich, a friend introduced Laurie to Family Centers. You could say it was love at first sight. Laurie knew this was where she could affect the lives of children and families across lower Fairfield County; where she could apply her time, energy, and philanthropy. And this is where she stayed. Laurie has been on the board of Family Centers for 22 years, and is currently co-vice chairman. After decades of tirelessly working for the non-profit center - which offers education and human services - you would think she would start to slow down. But then you wouldn't know Laurie. Instead she recently signed up to also co-chair the annual giving drive. "Every time I think I'm going to slow down and step back, I become more involved," says Laurie. "Peter and I think it is very important to be involved in the community –- not just once or twice a year, but every day. My involvement with Family Centers has been exceedingly rewarding." The rewards come in multiple forms. It comes from the children in economically at-risk families who get a solid academic beginning at the Family Center pre-schools. This vital early education positions them to succeed in school and go onto college. It comes from the mothers and fathers who want a better life for their children and are given the opportunity to break the cycle of economic disadvantage. It comes from three daughters and her husband Peter who are tremendously proud of what Laurie has accomplished. And it comes from the staff at Family Centers. Bob Arnold, president and CEO of Family Centers says, "Though there's lots of caring people, Laurie has distinguished herself with her concern and passion for the children and families who face obstacles. Her passion has been infectious and it has inspired others." Each year, Family Centers serves more than 25,500 children, adults, and families. Family Centers is organized around three Centers of Excellence: Early Education; Health Care Connections; and Thriving Families & Communities which includes social services that empower such as Literacy Volunteers and vocational programs. Early Education is what really grabbed Laurie. To her, "education is what it is all about. She says, "I feel like I've made a difference. This is what I wanted to do from the start." This long-standing deep commitment is why Family Centers recently honored Laurie by renaming their Arch Street School, one of the four NAEYC accredited pre- schools that Family Centers runs, the Grauer Preschool. The renaming came at a seminal moment: this year Family Centers is celebrating its 125th anniversary. As Bob Arnold says, "Laurie is a very special person. She has worked long and hard for years to raise money for scholarships for early education. She is sensitive to the achievement gap and has made it her personal mission to make sure that these families, who are struggling, have access to education. She has been such a force in our work with preparing young children for academic success. It just seemed appropriate to recognize her deep concern and passion and the impact it has had." Laurie's involvement is crucial these days. She observes, "It's really hard. Government grants are down, and we are losing more and more government funding. It's important that we step up to the plate. When people don't give, these organizations truly feel it." Laurie has certainly stepped up, among the many things she does for Family Centers she makes sure those essential pre-school scholarships are sustained. Laurie is lavish in her praise of Family Center's staff and board. "The staff is amazing and we have a great board. I'm fascinated by the interaction between the staff and board and how the staff gets the board involved." She continues, "I encourage anyone, especially young people, to become involved and make an impact." Laurie Grauer A SMART START by Anne Young FACES OF PHILANTHROPY [ ] 028

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