On and Off Duty, Hartford HUD Office Reaches out to Help the Homeless

Friday, April 06, 2001

In the course of their daily duties as well as in their volunteer work, the Connecticut HUD Office has found a variety of ways to help the state's homeless. Notable recent "on duty" initiatives include:

  • A Faith-Based Conference organized by Associate Community Builder Toni McGant and others explored ways that faith-based entities could address the homeless problem.
  • The City of Danbury requested and received Community Builder assistance in exploring ways of relocating homeless persons living in a long abandoned, derelict and dangerous former hat factory, and then eliminating this public nuisance.
  • Community Planning and Development was assisted by Community Builder Peter Blomstrom who completed the environmental review record and prepared the documents necessary to award a Supportive Housing Program contract to the Norwalk Emergency Shelter after another non-profit was unable to carry-out the project.

In addition, many employees of the Hartford HUD Office donate time, food and money to assist homeless persons throughout the year.

Foodshare, a non-profit organization that distributes food to Hartford area soup kitchens and shelters, received HUD staff donations of $290 and 95 pounds of food. Foodshare, a non-profit organization that distributes food to Hartford area soup kitchens and shelters, received HUD staff donations of $290 and 95 pounds of food. This effort was organized by Toni McGant, Associate Community Builder, David J. Furie, Attorney-adviser, and Michael Patterson, Project Manager-Resident Initiatives, in their roles as union stewards. The union has done this for many years.

The Hartford Office "adopted" the nearby St. Elizabeth homeless shelter several years ago and assists it on an ongoing basis. Michael Patterson, Project Manager/Resident Initiatives, has collected donated hotel toilet articles (the shampoos and soaps are the perfect size), puzzles, and other items for this and other shelters over the years. Michael and Yvonne Candelario-Morgan, CPD Representative, have also collected toys for the shelters.

Michael helped another shelter this year, donating toy wood blocks made from scrap wood, a set of encyclopedias, and books. He also donates books to a consumer self-help medical library in Bombay, India.

Carl Harris, Lead Equal Opportunity Specialist, often tells people, "If my car does not turn off of Vine Street to Rockville Street, it will cough." Rockville Street in the Northend of Hartford, Connecticut is where the Hopewell Baptist Church (HBC) is located. On Wednesday and Thursday evenings and early Friday mornings, that is where you can find "Deacon Harris," the head and cook of the HBC Soup Kitchen. Over the last four years his schedule has been as follows: pick up food supplies from the Greater Hartford Foodshare on Wednesday evenings and deliver them to the Church; return on Thursday evening to prepare for the Friday lunch to be served at noon time; return early Friday morning to "fire up the stove," and give final instructions to a partner (also a deacon). Volunteers arrive around 9:00am to prepare the dining hall and serve the meal to area homeless and those just down on their luck. The average meals served each week are around 25 - 30. On special occasions such as the holiday seasons, that number escalates to nearly 100.

While they call it the soup kitchen, Carl does not remember serving soup. The lunch menus have included the traditional fried or baked chicken as well as turkey, beef, or seafood stroganoffs. Desserts include fresh-made cakes and pies, and ice cream. Carl is often teased about his whereabouts. It is said, "If you can't find him at HUD or at home, call the Hopewell Soup Kitchen." He credits the generosity of area merchants and contributions to Foodshare for allowing the ministry of the Soup Kitchen to prepare those hot nutritious meals. The lunch menus have included the traditional fried or baked chicken as well as turkey, beef, or seafood stroganoffs.  Desserts include fresh-made cakes and pies, and ice cream.

CPD's Program Manager, Caroline Carlson, recently accompanied her Church's confirmation candidates to the Manchester Council of Churches' Soup Kitchen and Pantry. Among the jobs that Caroline performed were rolling forks and knives inside paper napkins, stocking pantry shelves (labels facing out, please!), and serving delicious-looking desserts and healthful salads. Caroline commented that there are so many small easy tasks that volunteers can do to contribute to the operation of the facility. With many volunteers, the work is not difficult.

The South Park Inn, a shelter for men, women and families, is yet another homeless facility assisted by the Hartford HUD staff. The South Park Inn, a shelter for men, women and families, is yet another homeless facility assisted by the Hartford HUD staff. It receives money left over from the Union holiday parties, and annual donations are usually $80 to $100. David Furie and his 12 year old daughter, Amanda, recently served food at the South Park Inn as a sixth grade community service project for Sage Park Middle School, Windsor, CT.

Hartford's Senior Community Builder/State Coordinator Raymond A. Jordan reports that in addition to all this, the Hartford office also recognized the first Neighborhood Networks Computer Center in a shelter in Connecticut - My Sister's Place II, in Hartford.

 
Content Archived: September 09, 2009