Hartford – This week, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose at the Supreme Court and then at the United States Capitol, the Community Renewal Team (CRT) announced today that to memorialize Ginsburg’s lifetime of service to our nation, and her fierce commitment to protecting the rights of women throughout her legal and judicial career, it is officially renaming its Women’s Empowerment Center in Hartford in her honor.

The Center, which serves the needs of women throughout Central Connecticut, will be renamed the “Ruth Bader Ginsburg Women’s Empowerment Center.”

“The passing of Justice Ginsburg came as a shock to all of us this past weekend. We know that her lifetime of work has created lasting and critical changes to the law that benefit women nationwide, and we can think of no better way to honor her legacy than to ensure that her memory lives on in the work of CRT’s Women’s Empowerment Center in Hartford,” said CRT’s President and CEO Lena Rodriguez.
“We are grateful that Ginsburg’s work and her legal opinions in support of women will be felt for decades to come, and we know that all women in our community today – especially the next generation that is coming of age now – are better off because of her work on behalf of all of us.”

Known as an advocate for women, Justice Ginsburg’s dedication to the disempowered extended still further. She wrote, “Whatever community organization, whether it’s a women’s organization or fighting for racial justice…you will get satisfaction out of doing something to give back to the community that you never get in any other way.” As the oldest community action agency in the state, we could not have said it better.

A formal renaming ceremony at CRT’s Women’s Empowerment Center in Hartford to celebrate the legacy of Justice Ginsburg and her lifetime of work will be held in the coming weeks – exact date to be announced soon.

About CRT’s Women’s Empowerment Center:
The Community Renewal Team (CRT) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit community action agency and Connecticut’s largest human service agency. Since 1964, CRT has been fulfilling its mission of “Preparing Our Community to Meet Life’s Challenges” by providing more than 60 programs and services designed to positively impact the lives of individuals and families from the City of Hartford and the 40 surrounding towns. As it has for decades, CRT continues to help tens of thousands of people each year; and the data demonstrates that the organization continues to reach Connecticut’s most vulnerable, low-income population.

Historically, more than half of the clients CRT serves have been female. For many of them, the services they received are a true lifeline. In keeping with Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s lifelong goal of uplifting all U.S. residents regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, economics and sexual preference, CRT inaugurated its Women’s Empowerment Center (WEC) in 2019. It is the Center’s objective to give women, including the most vulnerable in the Greater Hartford area, access to the opportunities through which they can benefit themselves and their families. In addition to counseling and case management, the WEC offers introductions to different occupational fields and educational programs, workshops on job exploration, even access to mentorships with some of the region’s most successful women. It provides a vision for women who may not have seen their varied (albeit hard-won) options before entering the Center’s doors.

The WEC meets a critical regional need. Over 60% of households in the capital city are headed by a single parent, most of whom are single mothers or grandmothers. Nearly one-third (31.6%) of women In the City of Hartford live in poverty. CRT has a history of offering female-centric initiatives (e.g., helping women gain employment skills, leave abusive circumstances, decrease substance use and recidivism, and enabling grandparents, particularly grandmothers, to raise their grandchildren). Our Ruth Bader Ginsburg Women’s Empowerment Center is the culmination of these effort.

The Center at 330 Market Street, Hartford, is easily accessible via public transportation, and includes space for workshops, private rooms for case management and one-on-one counseling, socialization space and a children’s play area.

For more information about this advisory, please contact: Jason Black, Communications Director @ 860-230-4535.

This year, summertime will take on an extra special meaning for Michael Morris. Last year Michael was battling opioid addiction while attending sessions conducted by the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program at the Community Renewal Team (CRT) in Hartford. Michael’s personal commitment and his willingness to confront his addiction head-on as he began the path to recovery would be different this time. It was a close call, however.

Michael, age 65, entered into the program in May of 2019, but was privately still using drugs and not ready to disclose this fact to the people who were trying to help him. While beginning Suboxone treatment to address his opioid addiction, he had a severe reaction to the medication. He became very sick and experienced withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, the team at CRT recognized what was happening and were able to get Michael to the hospital in time to save his life. Michael spent four days in a local hospital, and thankfully he was able to make a full recovery.

He has been taking Suboxone for more than one year now (since May 29, 2019), and he is clean and sober.

Michael will be the first to admit that in the past he may have undermined his own recovery efforts. For instance, he might stop using drugs, but he would keep drinking alcohol. Now, he says that he has no plan to go back to using drugs or alcohol and lives a life of recovery.

“I realized this dope is killing me,” Michael said. “But I have not had any urges since May 29 of last year – no alcohol, wine or whiskey, nothing. I’ve been clean before, but I was still drinking, but now I have total sobriety.”

Michael grew up in Hartford, and he admits that he started using drugs at an early age. He was only 13 years old when the drug use began. As he said, “It was part of the thing to do growing up.”

Because of that drug use, he was in and out of prison for most of his life. He actually met his wife June when he was a teenager; and he was officially the second person in the state of Connecticut to be married while in prison. They were married back in 1977 and he is still married to June to this day.

Over the years they had seven children. One son was shot and killed during an attempted robbery back in 2005.

Today Michael lives in Bloomfield, and in addition to his wife and grown children, he has 23 grandchildren, and he is extremely proud of each and every one of them. His oldest granddaughter is 21 and she is training in the Air Force. Another granddaughter is currently a sophomore at Virginia State College.

Michael continues to work with CRT every week for counseling and to continue his treatment with the MAT program.

“When I first started, I felt I was forced to do it,” Michael said. “But once I was in the group, and realized where my life was at, I realized I was tired of the life I was living, tired of being high. Being in the meetings, and seeing people’s lives change made a real difference. The program with CRT saved my life.”

Michael is well known on the streets of Hartford, and recently he has been volunteering time with a local community organization passing out food to people in need and talking to people he meets, making sure they are safe.

“Being engaged helping people helps me, too,” Michael said. “I talk to a lot of guys, talk to them about going into a program.”

His advice today?
“Get around someone living the life you want to live,” he said. “They have advice to give, and are willing to give it. Talking to people helps me – I don’t want to let them down – it really motivates me to do more!”

Michael is extremely proud of the changes he has been able to make in his own life. Now he’s ready to give back to others who need that help, too.