news & updates
November 3, 2022
Learn more about this part-time position here.
Please join us in welcoming our new Early Childhood Community Advocates (CAs), who joined us in September. They are part of the Norwalk/Child Development Infoline Early Childhood Initiative. They have been working with Maria Cloke, the Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) Community Liaison, by developing supportive relations with parents of young children with a central focus on improving parent understanding of early childhood development, completion of the ASQ-3, and the Sparkler mobile app. They also partner with Norwalk Early Childhood Education providers and the Norwalk Housing Authority to support parents and caregivers in learning about the developmental domains of children. They will be connecting with caregivers by:
  • Attending community events such as the FCA 80th Anniversary Block Party on October 15th
  • Joining early childhood parent groups at the Norwalk Public Schools Family Center, the Norwalk Public Libraries, and other places in the community where caregivers of young children visit
In addition, they are supporting parent voices by advocating at the local level with the Norwalk ACTS Early Childhood Initiative and the state level alongside the Office of Early Childhood. Please take a moment to read about these dedicated, compassionate, and active community members below!
Maria Guzman
Born in Puerto Rico, Maria has lived in Norwalk for 11 years. Her personal experiences have made her passionate about becoming involved with the immigrant and Latino communities. Maria is excited about working in her community as a Norwalk ACTS community advocate, helping people prosper. 
Karina Mendez
Karina was born in Colombia and moved to Norwalk in 2006. She studied early childhood education and worked as a preschool and elementary school teacher. Karina is an animal lover and has a rescue dog named Rocky that she brought from Colombia. Karine is a new mother of a 14-month baby boy named Samuel. Ever since she and her husband became parents, they've been trying to educate themselves and help other new parents along their journeys, especially during these post-pandemic times. Karina is very interested in improving our new generation to come so that they can thrive despite all of the obstacles.
Jennifer Murray-Mayhew
Jennifer Murray-Mayhew is a native of Norwalk, she attended the local schools and college. Being a proud mother of three kids, she strives to ensure they are given all opportunities to achieve the best education possible. As a Community Advocate, she will aid the community families to find services and outreach programs that will enable them to achieve the best outcomes, whether it’s in education or community recreational programs. Her goal is to help point families in the right direction with the help of our networks in the community. The community families are a priority for Jennifer. She loves the saying Norwalk ACTS has, ”from the cradle to career." She believes Norwalk must build on their young minds from the time they speak, which is why it's important to complete an ASQ for their child yearly to measure their growth. That is why she chose to be a Community Advocate!
Sandra Pineda
Sandra Pineda is a proud mother of three girls, the oldest being 16,8 and the youngest being 2 years old. She has lived in Norwalk, CT, for 7 years and moved from Stamford! Sandra has been counseling, helping women with self-esteem, and working with kids that range from ages 2 to 8 for about 12 years. Through her church, Fraternidad Cristiana (Christian Fellowship), she accomplishes those roles with her leadership position. 

Sandra would like to help parents find activities for their kids while staying active and healthy. She looks forward to using her Advocate role to encourage parents to use the Sparkler App. The Sparkler App implements parents' new ways to play while improving physically, mentally, and emotionally. She is looking forward to working with the community and seeing the improvement!
Eve St. Surin
Eve St.Surin is a long-time Norwalk, CT resident who has over 6 years of experience in the nonprofit field. She received her B.A in Human Services from the University of Bridgeport and is a licensed Community Health Worker. She has been working closely with vulnerable individuals and families in the Norwalk community, as a part of the Community Action Agency. Her passion for community and equitable resources shared amongst fellow Norwalkers is something that drives her work every day.
Welcome, to our new Social Emotional Health (SEH) Community Engagement Coordinator, Doreen Maher! Please read more more information about Doreen below in our Community Engagement section.
James Martinez, the education administrator for school counseling and social services for Norwalk Public Schools, was named the Latino Administrator of the Year by the Association of Latino Administrators & Superintendents.
Why Am I Always Being Researched? is a guidebook for community organizations, researchers, and funders to help us get from insufficient understanding to more authentic truth. This study names seven inequities held in place by power and calls out how they get in the way of truth and impact.

This is an important look at how we need to bring awareness to biases and assumptions and find new ways to relate to each other. CTData is offering this session at its upcoming conference in November. Register here.
The 2022 election is next week on November 8th, 2022! The ballots are out, view them here and make your plan to vote! 

Also, be sure to vote on the ballot question that reads: "Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to permit the General Assembly to provide for early voting?"

This ballot measure, if passed, will allow Connecticut residents to vote early in our elections. Connecticut is one of only four states that does not allow voters to vote early.
Welcome Doreen!
Doreen Maher is the Social Emotional Health (SEH) Community Engagement Coordinator for Norwalk ACTS. Doreen has been an active member of Norwalk ACTS over the past few years and joined the organization as a part-time employee in October 2022. Her responsibilities include assisting with developing Norwalk ACTS’ community outreach and engagement plan specifically aligned with the SEH Initiative Plan Goals and Objectives.  
Doreen has lived in Norwalk for over forty years and has raised two daughters, who both attended Norwalk Public Schools. As a teacher and a community advocate, Doreen is passionate about connecting with families and building bridges between the community, including parents and Norwalk ACTS, to improve outcomes for children and youth in Norwalk.
Doreen is an active member of the Norwalk community. She holds a Master of Arts in Special Education from Fairfield University and a Bachelor of Science in Human Development & Family Relations from the University of Connecticut.
There are openings in center-based and family childcare. You can learn more about how to register your child in an early childhood program in Norwalk by contacting Mary Oster, the City's Early Childhood Coordinator, at (203) 854-4148 or by email at
Calling all parents of children 0-5! Do you know that SPARKLER is a FREE mobile app for Connecticut families, helping parents support children’s development from birth through 5? Check in on your child’s development and get a library of 1000+ play activities just right for your child’s age!
November 16, 2022, 11 a.m. 

Search Institute has studied Developmental Assets in the lives of millions of young people across the United States and worldwide. Search Institute CEO Ben Houltberg will share new data around Developmental Assets, discuss the state of Developmental Assets throughout the pandemic, and discuss how Assets lay the foundation for building meaningful relationships with young people to ensure they feel seen, heard, and valued. Join in for this powerful discussion around Developmental Assets and the role they play in positive youth development!
Traumatic experiences can upend kids’ lives. But what exactly is trauma? How does it affect children and teenagers in particular? And what can we do to lessen the impact of trauma on their mental health? The 2022 Child Mind Institute Children’s Mental Health Report shows that promising interventions can foster kids’ resilience and give them and their families the support they need to thrive.
Rhea and Jesse presented to the City of Norwalk Common Council Community Services Committee on October 19 about our budding work in the workforce development space.
Synchrony Skills Academy offers a free Computer Science program specifically for Norwalk Public School high school students. The program will run from January through June. They will provide transportation to their facility on 777 Long Ridge Road, and once the program day is complete, they will provide transportation back to the Norwalk high schools. 

GIVE WHILE YOU SHOP: Are you an Amazon shopper? Set Norwalk ACTS as your selected charity on Amazon Smile, and a portion of every purchase will be donated to transform how a community works. Get started here.