In 1977, I was working as a community organizer in the south end of Hartford Ct.,for an organization known as H.A.R.T. (Hartford Areas Rallying Together). Neighborhood security, housing issues and forming nieghborhood block clubs for clean-ups and crime watches were among the things we worked on.
Around that time I was approached by Fr. Thomas Goekler from Sacred Heart Church in the northend of Hartford. He wasputting together a new community organization for the Clayhill and Northeast areas of the city and he needed community organizers. He introduced me to a young man named Eddie Perez, who would later become the mayor of Hartford. Through the Hartford conference of churches, we secured funding and some VISTA volunteer slots which Eddie and I along with Patrick McCarthy(no relation) filled. Along with donations from Aetna and The Hartford Insurance Co., we put together an office and started building block clubs and leadership in the mostly Hispanic and black Clayhill and Northeast neighborhoods. O.N.E.C.H.A.N.E. worked on many issues in both areas and over the next ten years it helped to provide a voice to many residents who otherwise would never be heard from.
After a year and a half, I left to continue my college education,but the experiences I had as a VISTA volunteer helped me not only achieve an undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut, but also instilled confidence and inspiration that has filtered into my over thirty-year career as a carpenter and self employed contractor. Many great memories.