The DCA is a privately-funded nonprofit that does not receive any financial support from the Town of Darien. Since 1923 we’ve been making our community a nicer place to live, by providing people of all ages a place to gather, give and learn.
“The DCA’s formal garden and historic rooms served as the perfect backdrop for an intimate summer evening cocktail reception. Many of our guests remarked what a lovely and unexpected surprise the beautifully maintained garden and house were for our gathering. The staff was courteous and willing to work with us to make sure the evening was elegant and enjoyable.”
“KEYS held its fall fundraiser at the DCA. It was our first experience working with the DCA and hopefully it won't be our last. The space was great and we lucked out with a beautiful fall evening to be outside for cocktails. I would definitely recommend using them for a special event!”
— Kids Empowered by Your Support (KEYS) Music
“Our guests had wonderful things to say both about the enchanting venue and the lovely grounds.”
— The Monks of Norcia
“Absolutely loved the grounds and venue of the DCA. Found this on a whim after having to change venues unexpectedly, and ended up LOVING the DCA more than our original venue. We had a beautiful ceremony in the garden, and enjoyed all of the various areas of the house for cocktail hour, and our reception.”
“The DCA was a beautiful location to host our Kentucky Derby fundraiser and it was a perfect night to truly enjoy both the outdoor and indoor venue. Your contribution to the event was an integral part of our efforts.”
— PHILIPPA DOYLE AND MARISOL GRAVELLE-BUSH (DERBY CO-CHAIRS) AND MARLEY THACKRAY (PRESIDENT) YOUNG WOMEN’S LEAGUE OF NEW CANAAN
“Great people, great place! Thanks so much again to the DCA for making our special night what we totally hoped for.”
— Ozden and Erdem
At the DCA, we enrich our community in a welcoming, historic setting for lifelong learning, philanthropy, and enjoyment.
We do this in four distinct ways:
- Activities: We offer a wide range of programs, classes and groups — attended by 1500 participants each month.
- Philanthropy: As the largest provider of college scholarships to Darien High School graduates, we award at least $50,000 each year — this year to over 40 students. Our philanthropy also includes our nearly four acre DCA Bird Sanctuary, our contribution to open space in Darien, available for the public to enjoy — and the DCA Blue Notes, our volunteer singing group that performs at senior residences and other venues.
- Thrift Shop: We own and operate the DCA Thrift Shop on the Post Road, providing a much-needed community service. More than 1,800 customers purchase items each month — and the shop is all volunteer-run.
- Beautiful Venue: We offer our historic home and garden to rent for your own private or corporate event — whether it is a wedding, birthday celebration, nonprofit fundraiser, or corporate meeting.
On August 2, 1923, 20 community-minded women met at what was then Royle School, to organize what they called the Darien Improvement Association. They continued to meet at members’ homes and their stated objective was to “keep the town neat, especially the public highways,” and “obtain receptacles for rubbage.” They soon expanded to influence the care of trees and the railroad embankment, to work for the home delivery of mail, to support the town library, and to take a strong interest in the public schools. During these years, the first interest of the DCA was helping where there was a need. This philanthropic commitment continues today, as we celebrate more than 75 years of providing college scholarships to Darien High School graduates. In 1929, the Darien Improvement Association was incorporated, and two years later, the organization formally changed its name to the Darien Community Association, Inc.
The DCA Thrift Shop was founded in October 1931 to supply local women much-needed employment during the Depression: washing and mending donated clothing, and repairing household articles, to be sold at very low prices. Today, over 50 volunteers run the Thrift Shop, located at 996 Post Road. Meadowlands, our historic home and property on Middlesex Road, was purchased in 1950. It was originally built as a Victorian, but was redesigned to its current Regency style in 1933 by its fifth owner.
From another era
Over the last 95 years, the DCA has been guided by 38 different volunteer Presidents, whose wisdom and foresight has proven invaluable.
The DCA has been enriching the Darien community for 96 years with stimulating programs, lectures and classes, philanthropy including scholarships for Darien High School graduates, our volunteer-run Thrift Shop on the Post Road, and by providing a beautiful setting for private parties and special events. Working at the DCA provides the opportunity for enthusiastic and community-minded individuals to support this vital mission, in a small office setting within a lovely historic estate, set on eight acres of property.
DCA Thrift Shop Internship
In today’s economy, thrift shop businesses are thriving and seeing significant growth potential. Shoppers find really amazing things, new or used, that do not break the bank and are not filling up landfills. Thrift shopping is an adventurous experience, it’s never the same thing twice, and customers enjoy the thrill of the hunt. You can’t find this in traditional retail shopping. After a year of closet purging, the second-hand market has seen a huge influx of ‘good as new’ garments, sweetening the thrill and discovery of thrifting.
The DCA Thrift Shop has been a mainstay on the Post Road for nearly 90 years, longer than any other shop in Darien. Proud of this heritage, the shop has recently undergone a renovation which has provided for more conducive experience for shoppers and volunteers alike. Volunteers play an essential role in the day to day shop activities, they process donations, stock the store, and assist clients and customers with their needs.
Within this thriving retail environment, the DCA is proud to offer internship opportunities.
This internship would offer you an opportunity to become familiar with foundational activities at the thrift shop, with the primary objective being to assign you a specific project that could be completed and make a tangible addition to your resume. Potential areas for intern assignment include:
1. Merchandise display, including window appearance
2. Donation curation and pricing
3. Social media, implement and manage Instagram, Facebook for shop
4. Communications – weekly newsletter, develop a customer database
5. On-line selling – enhance and extend existing eBay shop, research and develop new channels
This unpaid internship requires a commitment of 8 hours per week, timing flexible and would be based on-site at the thrift shop with remote work.
College students and graduates are invited to apply.
To apply for an interview, please send a resume and cover letter detailing the reasons for your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in community service but don’t have the time to commit to an internship, we are also always looking for volunteers for just 4 hours a week. Please email Deb Danile, Thrift Shop Manager, at email@example.com.
The 2020-2021 DCA Board of Directors is made up of a diverse group of hard working, committed volunteers.
Terrie Van de Graaf
Finance Vice President/Treasurer
Program Vice President
Property Vice President
Directors at Large
Sig Buchmayr, Caroline Burke, Diane Halvorsen, Susan Hamill, Tom Igoe, Sue Kunze, Elizabeth Moley, Jim Phillips, Sarah Ritchey, Michael Sgroe, Bert von Stuelpnagel
For more information on board membership, please contact Sue Hayes, Nominating Chair, through the DCA at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-655-9050 extension 10.
Since its inception in 1923, the DCA has relied on our hardworking volunteers, who enjoy contributing to our mission, and impacting the Darien community in a positive way. Over 150 volunteers support the many facets of our organization.
Below are some of our current volunteering opportunities:
DCA Thrift Shop
The DCA Thrift Shop is volunteer-run…and we can’t do it without you! You’ll be joining a vibrant community of volunteers who lend their time, dedication and passion to many different roles within our nonprofit organization. Volunteers help tidy clothing, price items, create in-store and window displays and sell to customers. To become a volunteer, please contact Caroline Burke at email@example.com.
DCA Bird Sanctuary
The DCA Bird Sanctuary committee is focused on the continued maintenance and upkeep of this unique community asset — nearly four acres of woodland, open to the public. This includes removing invasive plants, maintaining the trails, installing new native plantings, pruning/weeding, etc. There is no specific time commitment required to volunteer — the committee is thankful for a few hours of help when possible. Please contact the DCA at firstname.lastname@example.org to help.
Greenhouse Group Plant Sale
The Greenhouse Group is always looking for volunteers to help with their May Plant Sale, their annual fundraiser for the DCA. The Plant Sale takes place on the Friday before Mother’s Day. Volunteering opportunities include helping to set up the event, working the sale, or breaking it down. Please contact the DCA at email@example.com if you would like to help.
Activities, Programs and Groups
If you are interested in the planning and development of any of the activities, programs or groups listed on our website, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll be happy to put you in touch with the appropriate person.