Letter: Grace Farms Has Helped ‘Full Court Peace’ Operate Year-Round

Over the past two years, the nonprofit, Full Court Peace, has grown financially and in its outreach. This would not have been possible without the support of Grace Farms Foundation and facility of Grace Farms.

Five years ago, I initiated a program to unite locally disadvantaged youth with their more affluent neighbors in Fairfield County through basketball. At first a once-per-year event, Grace Farms helped make this a year-round occurrence. Their administration made for a smooth, professional and thorough application process for the kids to use the facility, and their staff supported me as I put together various programs that worked toward our mission. Grace Farms is indeed a shared space for all to enjoy.

Did You Hear … ?

The alpacas of Crajah House on Oenoke Ridge Road on Tuesday were shorn of their thick winter coats—see photos above. Their owner, New Canaan’s Debbie McQuilkin, tells us the process for each “blanket” includes picking out sticks, hay and straw, then going for the secondary areas of the neck, backside and legs. The material is sent to a fiber mill where it’s washed, cleaned again and dyed or made into a yarn that McQuilkin herself chooses—fine knitting or heavy weaving for rugs. It also can be sent back for hand spinning or felting, McQuilkin said. The alpaca fleece is hypoallergenic and contains no lanolin, and it’s naturally fire-resistant.

Full Court Peace: NCHS Basketball Coach Unites Kids, Communities through Hoops

If Mike Evans had an epiphany—if there’s a single moment that gave rise to the nonprofit organization he founded in 2006—it likely arrived moments after he met the Dalai Lama as a semi-pro basketball player in Northern Ireland. Working at a hoops clinic that had brought together very young children from different backgrounds there, Evans shook hands with the Buddhist leader during the latter’s world peace tour in Belfast, and moments later, two girls—one Protestant, the other Catholic—got into a fight. “They whisked the girls away,” Evans recalled on a recent morning. “The reconciliation was not happening at home or in the classroom for these kids. You get the toughest kids, and at 15 years old they’re on the brink of being a productive citizen or joining the IRA [Irish Republican Army] or UDA [Ulster Defence Association].”

Following the incident, Evans—a 2001 Weston High School graduate and all-state basketball player who would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in writing at Hamilton College (where he set several scoring records) and master’s in education from Harvard—reflected on something that had happened to him as a child growing up in Fairfield County.