On Thursday, September 13, our Greater Together Listening Tour 2018 made its fifteenth stop at The West Hartford Conference Center. More than 70 neighbors joined Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams in conversation, reminding us that even with all we offer in our community, there are still many who are left behind. After a short introduction, the floor opened to give those in attendance the opportunity to share what they love about living in West Hartford, as well as some of the challenges facing the community.
Here are a few things we learned throughout the course of the evening:
* West Hartford is incredibly diverse, both in native-born and immigrant residents. We are home to children of many cultures, adults who speak many languages, and families of many descriptions. But there is a lasting bias against those who come from “the wrong side of the tracks.” How can we do more for all of our children? How can we support adults who come as immigrants or as a trailing spouse? We offer great summer programs through our libraries; how might we expand to topics such as financial literacy? How can we partner with organizations in Hartford to expand our support?
* Education is a top priority in West Hartford. Many families sacrifice so they can move to town and benefit from the public schools. At the same time, schools next door in Hartford “limp along.” How might we reach across town lines and help ensure the children beyond our town’s borders receive a quality education, making our region stronger as a whole?
* The West Hartford nonprofit community—including schools, arts and culture, and health service organizations—has benefitted from grants awarded by the Hartford Foundation. But issues are becoming “more profound” and the demand for services continues to grow. Mental health centers are at capacity as soon as they open. Affordable housing and supported work options are not keeping pace with demand. At the same time, the grantmaking guidelines at the Foundation (including board diversity and geographic boundaries) preclude many organizations from receiving financial support. How can the community better understand areas of need, and direct resources accordingly? How can our residents be connected to volunteer (and part-time work) opportunities? How might the Foundation continue to revisit its processes and offer additional support?
* Opioid addition affects West Hartford just as it affects each of the towns in our state. As clinical, law enforcement and nonprofit organizations collaborate to share emerging research and deliver focused training, how might the Foundation bring its network of experts and financial resources to support efforts such as these?
Thank you to everyone who attended. 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—and final stop in 2018—is October 1. Residents of Tolland and Ellington are invited to join us at Hall Memorial Library in Ellington. Visit greatertogether2018.org for more information on how to register.