Forty years ago, Rosalyn Cama and her friends in the Farnam Neighborhood House Girls Club decided to call themselves “The Beatlettes.”
“I remember when Farnam House opened in 1963 and The Beatles came to the United States in 1964. We loved The Beatles,” recalled Cama, president of CAMA, Inc. “I remember how it was at Farnam—how you could go and create whatever you wanted to create.”
Cama shared that reminiscence Tuesday evening at the 14th annual awards gathering for Farnam Neighborhood House, a Fillmore Street lifeline for Fair Haven young people for decades.
Reminiscences abounded at the event, which about 100 people attended at Branford’s Woodwinds. Tickets to the event were $50; proceeds went to benefit Farnam.
“It’s a good cause, and it’s doing as much good as it did when I went there,” said Cama.
The event consisted of a cocktail hour, dinner, and an awards ceremony that honored State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney and Town Fair Tire for their support of Farnam. Looney was awarded Farnam’s Community Service Award.. Town Fair Tire received Farnam’s “Community Spirit Award” for helping Farnam provide social, recreational and educational programs to children and families.
Guests mingled and, like Cama, shared memories of Farnam and the Fair Haven community in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Farnam Board of Directors President Everett Nichols recalled growing up with Looney.
“We have been good friends for over 50 years. We went to school together at St. Rose of Lima School. Obviously, Marty was smarter,” Nichols joked, saying he was good at recess. “When we were set to graduate, we took the test for Notre Dame. Marty was accepted, and I’m still on the waiting list.”
After making the crowd laugh, Nichols praised Looney for his community service. “He did it never looking for any gratitude. He was always helpful every time I saw him. He’s a tremendous guy and he deserves everything he gets.”
Looney (pictured) thanked Nichols in his acceptance speech and reflected on the community he and Nichols grew up in.
“It was a great neighborhood and a great time to be a kid in Fair Haven in the ‘50s and ‘60s,” he said. “Farnam Neighborhood House has meant so much to me and my family, as well as the entire community of Fair Haven. So many members of my family have been active here.”
Looney’s son Michael played basketball for Farnam’s Biddy Basketball Program for several years. Looney talked about how his beloved cousin (and former Alderwoman) Polly Sweeten was actively involved with Farnam as well.
“We all know that if every community group in the city were as well run, well supported by the community, and [had] the kind of visionary leadership that Farnam has, we would have so many better and safer neighborhoods in this city,” said Looney. “Farnam is a model for what a community organization should be, what a neighborhood center for children should be.”
Annex Alderman Alphonse Paolillo, Jr., the event’s master of ceremonies, thanked the senator for being an advocate for New Haven: “It’s refreshing when you go to a dinner like this—as an elected official politician, you go to a lot of them—and folks who are deserving of awards are receiving them.”
“Beatlette” Rosalyn Cama’s brother, Thomas Cama (pictured), is also a Farnam alumnus. He now serves on the organization’s board of directors. He shared a memory of Farnam. Not his own, but his mother’s: “I was telling my mother how we were doing this fundraiser and she says, ‘You know, when they first built Farnam House, I helped raise money. They used to have a ladies club that used to sell cupcakes.”
He explained how community support is essential to keep Farnam running.
“Places like Farnam House can’t sustain itself on federal grants or whatever. It has to come from the community and small businesses and large businesses,” he said. “Companies like Town Fair Tire have really helped Farnam House throughout the years.”
For over 15 years, Town Fair has given toys and gift cards to over 150 children in Farnam House’s after-school and pre-school programs each Christmas. The company has also donated an electronic bulletin board, sound system, fuss ball and air hockey table, a digital camera, and more to the organization.
“We are very appreciative of this award,” said Town Fair Tire Vice President of Marketing James Uliano (pictured, on the right). “We give back to the community because the community has supported us in many endeavors to help us grow.”