Building a healthier environment in Bridgeport

Though they have been together for seven years, Stacey Hahn and fiance Rob Collins, who first met when he was playing junior hockey in Elmira, Ont., have spent plenty of time apart, including most of Rob’s four years at Ferris State University where he was a finalist for the 2002 Hobey Baker Award.

So when Rob signed with the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders this past summer and was assigned to the American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Stacey joined him in Connecticut even though the job market for the Canadian wives and fiancees of players on teams in the United States is a tough one.

However, Stacey, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, landed a position as the Shelter Manager for the Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County, Inc., which is dedicated to strengthening women and families and eliminating violence and abuse through education, intervention, advocacy and community collaboration.

“I really like the Center’s mission,” says Stacey of her job.

The shelter is a place where women and children who are in immediate danger or have become homeless because of domestic violence can stay for up to 60 days.

Once at the shelter, Stacey took on a project to rebuild the children’s playroom.

“I wanted to give them a more healthy environment and take their minds off their situation,” says Stacey, but with the shelter on a tight budget, the project needed some help.

“They were originally looking for just a few things to make the playroom a nicer place, but we knew we could do much more,” says Sound Tigers community relations manager Amy Caserta who learned of the project while leading holiday toy deliveries and now heads the team’s involvement with the shelter.

The Sound Tigers Booster Club donated $500 out of the proceeds from its March 6th Chuck-A-Puck, Painter’s Supply in Bridgeport donated paint and supplies, and one anonymous member of the community volunteered to paint a mural. Many Sound Tigers fans have also offered to donate items ranging from women and children’s clothing to a television and VCR. And, several Sound Tigers players offered to help with the actual work, but the location of the shelter, because of its very purpose, needs to remain undisclosed.

“It’s awesome when we can partner with people and organizations in the community,” says Stacey. “That’s how we fulfill our mission.”