On Thursday, July 19, our Greater Together Listening Tour 2018 stopped at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield. Twenty-five residents and nonprofit leaders joined Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams and Foundation staff for an energizing conversation. After a short introduction, Jay invited guests to tell us what they love about living in Enfield and Somers, as well as some of the challenges facing their communities.
Here are a few things we learned throughout the course of the evening:
- This is a great place to live! Our towns balance small-town heart and caring neighbors with big-city amenities (including cultural events and arts organizations). Even though there are many other places to live, people often stay for the quality of life afforded by proximity to natural resources.
- There are a number of smaller nonprofits in our area; some have been around for many years while others are just getting started. Some focus on reducing the stigma of mental health issues while others promote local history or Community Theater. In addition to the Foundation’s Nonprofit Support Program (NSP) and the Hartford Public Library’s Nonprofit Service Center, how else can we help each other to build effective, self-sustaining nonprofit organizations? How might we partner to learn from one another?
- Our public schools are going through challenging times. With both budget cuts and declining enrollment, many schools are merging or closing – but some schools are overcrowded while other buildings remain vacant. Programs are being scaled back as budgets are stretched to the limit while student needs are increasing. Our students are caught in the middle. How might we re-think meeting the needs of our students? How can the Foundation lend support in connecting schools to parents and nonprofits?
- The declining number of volunteers is a common concern across nearly every town we have visited. Fewer and fewer people are being asked to do the same or greater amounts of work. How might our local citizens come together and share common solutions? Given its ability to convene large groups and identify national experts, how might the Foundation create a new volunteerism model for our region?
- There are many good jobs available to people with a high school diploma and some technical training – college degrees are no longer the only key to a successful future. Places like Asnuntuck Community College are doing their part, providing both the technical training and support services (including day care and a food pantry) that today’s students need. But these organizations cannot go it alone; they still need support from the region to provide transportation, as one example. How might we come together as a community and support the varied needs of today’s students as they become tomorrow’s work force? How have other communities succeeded, and what can we imitate?
Thank you to everyone who attended our Enfield / Somers Listening Tour event! If there are any additional ideas you would like share, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you! Our next stop for residents of Windsor is on July 31 at the Windsor Historical Society. Visit greatertogether2018.org for more information on how to register.