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History

FSW has a 161-year history of serving the greater Bridgeport area. In 1849, the Sterling Home of Bridgeport was established to shelter needy widows. In 1865, The Ladies' Relief Society, which had aided Civil War Soldiers, merged into the shelter to care for needy children. A few years later, the Bridgeport Protestant Orphan Asylum was opened, where it stood for 65 years, later moving to Stratfield Road and renamed Woodfield Children's Village. Now, with assets of over $380,000, the Village offered institutional and foster care, adoption and services to unmarried parents.

In 1968, Bridgeport Family Service and Family Service Society of Fairfield joined to create the Family Service Society of Eastern Fairfield County, and provided family and individual counseling and homemaker services. Another merger in 1972 brought together Woodfield Children's Village and Family Service Society of Eastern Fairfield County to become Family Services Woodfield Inc. When the Woodfield property was sold to developers for condominiums, FSW moved to a home along Clinton Ave.

Through the 80’s, FSW was licensed as a home health agency and outpatient psychiatric clinic for adults and pioneered service to people with HIV/AIDS, A capital campaign raised $1,100,000 to purchase our current headquarters and in 1988, FSW relocated to 475 Clinton Avenue in Bridgeport. Due to changing community needs, FSW closed its home health service and took over the management of the Grasmere Eldercare Center, a public-private partnership with the Town of Fairfield. In the later 1980’s, the Bridgeport Children’s Advocacy Coalition (BCAC) was formed and worked together with FSW staff to advocate for the children of Bridgeport. By 1990, FSW’s budget surpassed $4,000,000 mark.

In the 90’s, FSW took over management of Fairfield’s Senior Center, merged with the Sterling Home of Bridgeport, started the Bridge Fund to help prevent homelessness, started Workshops in Business Opportunities and added Deaf Sign Language interpreter services. With a vastly increasing base of services, a $2 million capital campaign was launched in 1998 to expand the facility.

FSW sought and received certification as a Community Development Financial Institution by U.S. Treasury Dept. enabling FSW to elevate families out of poverty through programs that ensure financial stability, security and growth. FSW added a licensed outpatient psychiatric clinic for children, Literacy Volunteers, expanded services for at-risk youth, opened a walk in mental health clinic and incorporated Micro Credit Business, making loans to small businesses.

In 2003, the Board of Directors officially adopted the new agency name of FSW Inc. With a new strategic plan in 2007 in place, a new tagline was assumed - “Changing lives, creating brighter futures.” FSW was honored by the Points of Light Foundation, with the prestigious Annie E. Casey Foundation’s “2004 Families Count” award, for its innovative programs that respond to the changing needs of the communities it serves.

Today, FSW is known for its innovation and remains on the forefront of defining programs to meet community needs.