Ridgefield CT Pride added to Friends of Ridgefield program
RIDGEFIELD — Ridgefield CT Pride, the gay rights alliance that organized last summer’s Pride in the Park celebration of diversity and tolerance, has been accepted into the town’s Friends of Ridgefield program, which lends administrative support to charitable groups.
“Ridgefield CT Pride was started in 2019 to help create awareness for LGBTQ issues and to let our LGBTQ citizens know that they are valued members of our community,” Alisa Trachtenberg wrote to First Selectman Rudy Marconi. “... We are in need of a structure to help us collect funds and to also make payments…”
Responding to a request from Trachtenberg, the Board of Selectmen voted 4-to-0 on Nov. 6 to put Ridgefield CT Pride into the Friends of Ridgefield program.
Participation in the Friends of Ridgefield will allow the group to collect and spend money as a charity, without having to gain full status as a nonprofit organization under the exacting rules of the IRS. The group will get limited bookkeeping-type assistance from the town — as several other small local charities do — helping assure that the group’s fiscal operations are above board and accountable.
Trachtenerg described the effort to put on last summer’s Ridgefield Pride event. It was organized by the Gay, Straight Alliance groups at Scotts Ridge Middle School, East Ridge Middle School and Ridgefield High School.
Pride in the Park was a family-oriented event in Ballard Park on June 15, with music, games and activities like sack races, face painting, bracelet-making. It also had informational tables and support from numerous business community organizations, as well as appearances by politicians including First Selectman Rudy Marconi and State Sen. Will Haskell.
“Our event was a huge success, attracting hundreds of people,” Trachtenberg told the selectmen.
The group is hoping to get some support groups going.
Trachtenberg described events her family had been to that included different support groups of teens, parents and younger children.
She also said the atmosphere for people who are nonconforming in terms of gender roles and norms has been slowly improving in town over the years.
“When we first moved here, it was not as open and accepting in the schools,” she said. “Last year, all teachers and administrators were required to attend training by True Colors — a groups that provides support to LGBTQ youth.”
Ridgefield CT Pride is run largely by Trachtenberg and Maureen Tyra, the adviser to the gay-straight alliance at East Ridge Middle School.
They’re looking for more adults interested in helping run the organization.
“To set up a nonprofit you need three — president, secretary, treasurer,” Trachtenberg told the selectmen. “I’m still trying to find a reliable third person.”
Selectwoman Barbara Manners, whose group CHIRP (Concert Happenings in Ridgefield Parks) has participated in the Friends of Ridgefield program, told Trachtenberg how it works.
Money collected and checks written to the group get turned in to town hall and funds are deposited in an account by a town bookkeeper, who also oversees disbursement of funds from the account.
“When you need funds, you fill out a voucher,” Manners said. “... In about a week or so, you’ll get your check.”
Ridgefield CT Pride was welcomed into the Friends of Ridgefield on a motion by Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark, seconded by Manners. Marconi and selectman Bob Hebert also gave their approval.
“Thank you so much,” Trachtenberg told the selectmen after the unanimous vote. “I really appreciate it.”