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Teacher Leaves Legacy Of Reading For Children In Crisis In Bridgeport

The family and friends of Debbie Walls gather at The Center for Family Justice. See story for IDs.
The family and friends of Debbie Walls gather at The Center for Family Justice. See story for IDs. Photo Credit: Sean Fowler

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The family and friends of a Monroe educator have created a lasting memorial for her with a donation of more than 500 books for the children who receive crisis and supportive services at The Center for Family Justice in Bridgeport.

The family of Debbie Walls, a Newtown resident who was a teacher in the Monroe Public Schools for more than 30 years, made the donation to the nonprofit which serves victims of domestic and sexual violence and child abuse in six Fairfield County communities.

Walls died in October after a two-year battle with cancer. Her family, friends and colleagues decided a gift of books in her memory was the best way to create a legacy for the teacher, who spent much of her career as a reading specialist.

“The book donation memorial is the complete essence of what my mother is and was,” said Becky Walls, one of Debbie Walls' two adult children. “My mother loved to read. She loved to be with children. She loved to teach, mentor and guide. We are honored to keep her spirit alive in such a positive and impactful way.”

The books will be used for children living in CFJ’s Kathie’s Place safe house as well as those who visit its Kids Share room for support when their parents are receiving services.

The donated books will also be incorporated in the summer 2018 curriculum at CFJ’s Camp HOPE Connecticut, New England’s first trauma-informed camp and mentoring program for children impacted by abuse.

CFJ’s President & CEO Debra A. Greenwood said the book donation would expand on the impact Walls had as an educator in Monroe, a legacy that touched her own family.

“One of my own daughter’s was so inspired by her experiences being taught by Debbie Walls that she decided to become a teacher,” Greenwood said. “Debbie touched so many lives with her passion for literature, her love of children and her talents as an educator. We are so honored that her legacy now extends to helping the deserving children we work with at CFJ who will benefit from the joys of reading these books. We are so grateful for this donation.”

Greenwood noted many of CFJ’s client children don’t have regular access to books and “having these books here provides a wonderful, positive outlet for them.”

More than two dozen friends, colleagues and family members of Debbie Walls attended a recent ceremony at CFJ dedicating the book library they donated. The Walls family has said they plan to give books in perpetuity to the nonprofit, so that the legacy of giving the gift of reading in her name continues.

The Center for Family Justice provides free and confidential trauma-informed services and coordinates care for all men, women and children — of any age, race and gender — impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse in Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull.

We provide cutting-edge education and training in our communities to create social change that breaks the cycle of violence, builds healthy relationships, stops bullying and ends teen dating violence.

Photo IDs: The family and friends of Debbie Walls gathered at The Center for Family Justice recently to dedicate a book library in her memory. Top row from left: Greg McDermott, Jason Walls, Noel Walls, Erin McDermott, Deb Greenwood, Kathy McDermott. Bottom row, from left: Becky Walls, Kaitlin McDermott.

For more information on The Center for Family Justice in Bridgeport, visit www.centerforfamilyjustice.org .

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