Monthly Archives: October 2012

Four Parks + 150 Volunteers = One Great Day of Service

Four parks. One hundred and fifty volunteers. Two new non-profit partners.

When Insurity approached us about planning their annual Day of Service, this year held on October 11th, we pondered a number of possibilities – including a river clean-up, painting shelters and more. However, the perfect option presented itself affording Hands On Hartford an opportunity to accommodate the employees’ interests and partner with two new organizations. We partnered with Riverfront Recapture and The Metropolitan District (MDC); this partnership allowed us to focus on a
new area – the environment.

Employees spent half a day beautifying and cleaning four parks in total – 3 in Hartford and 1 in East Hartford: Charter Oak Landing, Riverside Park, Great River Park and Mortensen Plaza. At Charter Oak Landing, volunteers weeded, cut down day lilies, trimmed branches, and revamped the entire front entrance. The front entrance had become overgrown with low-lying shrubs that were unsightly and intractable. The volunteers replaced the shrubs with more apropos plantings which resulted in an enhanced entryway. Over at Great River Park volunteers planted grass seeds, painted railings, trimmed trees and cleaned-up debris. At Mortensen Plaza, a jewel on the banks of the Connecticut River and centerpiece of the Riverfront Park System, volunteers removed grafitti by applying fresh coats of paint. The majority of the volunteers spent the morning at Riverside Park. Here Insurity employees trimmed the day lilies, mulched the flower beds, spread wood chips on walking trails,
trimmed trees, weeded the entrance/planted mums & bulbs, made a baseball field and 6 picnic tables.

Insurity Employees are truly committed and industrious evidenced by the woodworking team arriving on-site at Riverside Park about an hour before the “official start time” to begin the table construction. The company was truly able to accomplish a lot in a short period of time just in time for the Hartford Marathon, which occurred two days later, and RiverFront Recapture’s annual fundraiser.

“I would like to thank Hands On Hartford and all the wonderful folks from Insurity who participated in today’s successful program. The entrance to Charter Oak Park looks fabulous. The caulking of the Mortensen Plaza masonry was professionally done and looks fantastic. The new picnic tables are first rate, and we now have an impressive baseball field. The painting, grass seeding and overall cleanup enhance the look of these picturesque parks. They will be shining for this weekend’s Hartford Marathon.” James Mazza, Maintenance Superintendent, MDC.

Thank you Insurity for your continued commitment to service and for bringing much needed human resources and skills to the RiverFront Parks.

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Expanding Awareness with Celia

As promised, here is an introduction to another VISTA helping the Hartford Community. HOH is so excited to be working with so many enthusiastic young people!

Celia Caffery is the new Opening Doors: Greater Hartford AmeriCorps VISTA at Journey Home. She will be working on a number of projects including creating a coordinated entry system to allow households who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to go through a single system to determine their eligibility for public benefits, rental assistance, and shelters. She will also be working in communications, development, and planning numerous awareness-raising events throughout the year (keep an eye out for more information on Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week this November and a Sleep Out in the spring).

Celia is a recent graduate of Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota where she majored in Classical Studies.  While in school, Celia’s classes, internships and extracurricular activities continually steered her towards her passion for human rights and civic engagement.  During college she interned in the district office of Congressman John Olver (MA-01) and as a court monitor with Watch MN, an organization focused on protecting the rights of women and children through public scrutiny of court hearings.  She is particularly interested in the intersections between different human rights issues and interested to see how her previous work informs her work on homelessness this upcoming year.

A native New Englander, Celia is excited to be back in the Northeast working at Journey Home and getting to know Hartford.  Through her work at Journey Home, she hopes to expand awareness about homelessness in the Greater Hartford community and help make the homeless crisis response system more efficient for clients and providers.

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Meet the Newest VISTA Engaging the Hartford Community!

As you may have seen in the October edition of the Hands On Hartford newsletter, we have been further expanding our collaboration with the Beat of the Street Newspaper. Two years ago we began working with BOTS to further advocate for homeless individuals. Now, both organizations are partnering to launch a local Faces of Homelessness Speaker’s Bureau chapter.

This speaker’s bureau is a great addition to the Hartford community, giving often overlooked, under served individuals the power to tell their stories and create change. We will be working together to recruit new members into the Speakers Bureau and newspaper staff, and to engage the general public around the realities of homelessness through the distribution of the newspaper and scheduling of presentations.

This new program could never get off the ground without dedicated staff, interns and service members. BOTS will have two Americorps VISTA members working hard to ensure that the newspaper and speakers bureau continues to grow.

VISTA member DaJavon Davis has been working on the newspaper side of the organization. A native to Hartford, DaJavon recently graduated from Emmanuel College in Boston, MA where he studied Psychology, Performance Arts, and Gender Studies. He has a passion for serving others, especially in his hometown. DaJavon has a strong interest in the arts and the mental health field.

Through his work at BOTS, he hopes to be able to expand the newspaper and help create a strong, unified voice for homeless individuals and their advocates. He is also working on some other interesting projects including a Sleep Out and a Speakers Bureau event for Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week in November.

He hopes to one day be able to merge the use of performance and visual arts with service and helping others. Looks like he is off to a great start!

Be on the lookout for the next introduction of new faces at HOH!


For more information on Beat of the Street or Faces of Homelessness, email Nate Fox at

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