In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz along with OPM Secretary Melissa McCaw hosted a Women in Leadership panel discussion this week. A recording of that important conversation is now available online.

The session was co-moderated by CRT’s President and CEO Lena Rodriguez, and it also included several Latinas in leadership positions throughout Connecticut:

  • Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools
  • Evelyn DeJesus-Trinidad, Nurse Manager for the Medical-Surgical ICU at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center
  • Dr. Elsa Núñez, President of Eastern Connecticut State University
  • Dr. Zulma Toro, President of Central Connecticut State University.

Give a listen to the full conversation now.


Nationally, first-time unemployment claims topped 840,000 people last week. And despite the start of Phase 3 of the reopening of businesses here in Connecticut, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a hard toll on many women in the workplace locally, many either choosing to leave jobs to stay home with their family, or out of work due to business closures.

It has been reported that in September, 865,000 women left the labor force.

Christine Stuart from NBC Connecticut spoke with CRT’s Director of Women’s Services, Tenesha Grant, about the work of the agency’s Women’s Empowerment Center in Hartford to help women in need find meaningful employment during these extremely difficult times.

Happy Energy Awareness Month! Ray Dunaway and Joe D’Ambrosio on the WTIC 1080 AM Morning Show spoke with Jason Black from the Community Renewal Team (CRT) about the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program which can help eligible households throughout Central Connecticut to apply for home-heating assistance this winter. Find out if you qualify! They also spoke about Weatherization services to make your home more energy efficient all year round.

To learn more about the Energy Assistance Program, please call CRT’s hotline at: 860-560-5800. Call center reps are available and they speak English and Spanish for your convenience.

Listen to the full interview now.

Jason Black from CRT spoke with reporter Brenda León from Connecticut Public Radio (WNPR) this week about the benefits of additional time to complete the 2020 U.S. Census this month.

And while the enumeration rate for the Census in Connecticut is 99.9%, the self-response rate in Hartford is not nearly as good, and continues to be below 50%. (Reported by the U.S. Census Bureau as 48.9% as of Oct. 7.)

An inaccurate count (i.e., if the count is low or incomplete) could affect funding decisions by the federal government for the next 10 years, which will then impact people statewide in Connecticut, with the potential to cut budgets for programs that we all rely on, like SNAP benefits, energy assistance, health care, education and much more.

Check out the full story on the Connecticut Public Radio website.

The new deadline to complete the 2020 Census is October 31, 2020. If you have not yet completed the Census, please take five minutes to do it now! Start here.

CRT’s annual Financial Literacy Institute which provides adults with the opportunity to take charge of their own financial futures, was recently featured on NBC Connecticut. Take a look at the full story now.
Financial Literacy Focus: Push to Teach Money Matters in Schools

Following the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Community Renewal Team (CRT) announced 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.” Get more details in this report from Ann Nyberg at WTNH News 8.

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.