‘Staying Put in New Canaan’ Executive Director Barb Achenbaum Hits 5-Year Mark

Five years ago, Barb Achenbaum considered creating a company that would help adult children understand important parts of their parents’ lives. 

A Chicago native who earned a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from Princeton University, she’d been living in New Canaan for about 10 years and had come to know firsthand what it meant to help organize finances, healthcare and estate planning after taking on responsibilities for both her own parents and father-in-law. Just at that moment, the position of executive director at Staying Put in New Canaan opened up and her husband, Jonathan, encouraged Achenbaum to apply. “But I said, I hadn’t had a job in 23 years because I had been a professional volunteer,” Achenbaum recalled on a recent morning from a conference room in Staying Put’s Pine Street offices. “I had done a lot, I was involved in the PTA, Encore, and all of these different organizations. It’s a real job, but not a paying one.

First Selectman: Plans Underway To Rent Out Irwin House to Nonprofit Organizations

Irwin House, the 1963-built brick structure that sits on a hilltop in a public Weed Street park of the same name, is to be renovated and rented out to a handful of nonprofit organizations seeking new homes, the town’s highest elected official says. Vacant since the municipal offices that had occupied it during the renovation and expansion of Town Hall moved out three years ago, Irwin House would see its first floor used as a “nonprofit center,” according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. The organizations expected to move in and pay a below-market rent so that the town covers its maintenance and utility costs would include Staying Put in New Canaan, New Canaan Community Foundation, New Canaan Land Trust and New Canaan CARES, Moynihan told reporters during a press briefing held Aug. 23 in his office. 

“The idea would be that they would have the synergy of being not-for-profits together rather than isolated in little offices,” he said. “They’d share conference space, they’d share a lunchroom.

Did You Hear … ?

New Canaan Police say residents have reported multiple break-ins of unlocked vehicles, including overnight last Friday. Several items were taken from a Mill Road vehicle, unlocked in its driveway, and two more cars on Silvermine Road were illegally entered. Darien saw 22 motor vehicle burglaries in a three-night stretch. Officials are urging residents to safeguard their valuables and lock their cars. ***

There are about 514,000 gallons of water in Waveny Pool, Recreation Director Steve Benko said during a Parks & Recreation Commission meeting Wednesday night.

New Canaan Nonprofits Participating in ‘Giving Day’

On Thursday, some 18 New Canaan nonprofit organizations will participate in a 24-hour fundraising blitz known as Giving Day. Hosted by the Fairfield County Community Foundation under the slogan “Give Where You Live” and with a goal of raising $1 million on a single day, Giving Day invites donors to give at least $10 to as many charities as they can. The organization that has the most individual donations will win an extra $25,000, while the organization that raises the most money will get another $20,000 (more information on prizes is available here). We asked participating local nonprofits to send us a single sentence communicating to NewCanaanite.com readers why they’re a great candidate for a donation on this day. Here are the New Canaan nonprofits, according to the Giving Day website, with their responses (those agencies that have not yet responded can email me directly at editor@newcanaanite.com and I will update this story):

A Better Chance of New Canaan: “The mission of the ABC of New Canaan is to offer capable minority youth the opportunity to learn in a superior educational program while also preparing them to assume positions of responsibility and leadership in American society.”
Carriage Barn Arts Center/New Canaan Society for the Arts: “Please support the New Canaan Society for the Arts/Carriage Barn Arts Center on this Fairfield County Giving Day and help us fulfill our goal of providing exceptional art exhibitions, accessible children’s art education, and cultural programs.”
Filling in the Blanks: “Your support will allow FILLING IN THE BLANKS to provide over 300 hungry children with meals on the weekend.”
Future 5: “Now with over 100 active members, Future 5 is helping motivated, low income high school students stay on track and connect to their full potential.”
Hungry Kidzz: “We provide weekend bags of food during the summer, a 4th of July ‘Freedom (barbecue) Box’ and 1000s of holiday stockings in December.”

Jane Nyce, Retiring Director of Staying Put in New Canaan: ‘This Is the Dream Job’

Jane Nyce, longtime director of Staying Put in New Canaan, is retiring to coastal Maine in about two weeks—there, she’ll spend time hiking and kayaking with her husband of 38 years, invite plenty of Connecticut friends and her three kids (maybe grandkids soon, “knock on wood,” she says), and pursue more work with seniors. “I can’t sit still,” was the last thing she told us during an interview Wednesday, transcribed in full below. We talked about the organization, the way it serves New Canaan, the town itself and its future. We talked about her family, her first date with the man who would become her husband (she asked him to a movie and dinner—and remembers what she made and what he brought, though not the film), and delved into her rich and interesting educational and professional backgrounds. Thank you to Jane for your readiness in being available for an interview, and for your candor during our conversation.