On Thursday, May 6, 2021, CRT welcomed both Senator Chris Murphy and Senator Richard Blumenthal, as well as U.S. Representative John Larson and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin to CRT’s headquarters in Hartford to discuss the importance of passing the ambitious American Families Plan proposed by President Joe Biden.

The work that CRT does every day is exactly what the American Families Plan is designed to accomplish: helping individuals AND families access resources that will help end the cycle of poverty.

Last year, CRT served 20,981 households and over 44,000 individuals throughout Central Connecticut.

  • 79% of the households served by CRT’s programs and services are between Zero and 200% of the federal poverty limit.
  • 27% of those households we serve are single parent households.
  • 33% are employed either full or part time, while 45% are unemployed.

Under the American Families Plan there are tremendous opportunities that would be passed along to the families that CRT serves, such as:

  • Providing four additional years of free education by providing Universal Pre-K schooling to ALL three- and four-year-olds;
  • Ensuring childcare is affordable to all low- and middle-income families;
  • Increasing funding for nutrition assistance and healthy school meals;
  • Extending tax cuts for families with children and American workers, and expansion of the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child for six-years old and above, and $3,600 per child for children under six.

That last item is tremendous. Can you imagine how this would benefit parents? Families would receive regular payments that allow them to cover household expenses as they arise.

CRT thanks our Senators and Congressman for their hard work protecting families here in our state, and across the country.

Pictured above (left to right): U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, CRT’s CEO Lena Rodriguez and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.

CRT hosted its first “Congregate Friendly Feud” on May 5, 2021, with a team of five from the Enfield Senior Center (Mark Twain) competing against a team from South Windsor. It was a close contest, but in the end Enfield prevailed, beating South Windsor by just 70 points!

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the seniors that CRT serves in the Greater Hartford area through its Nutrition Department could gather at a congregate meal site (aka Community Cafe) – such as their local Senior Center – to partake of a hot, nutritious meal and to socialize with one another. While CRT has been able to provide nutritious “Grab-and-Go” meals to the seniors we serve during the course of this past year, COVID-19 has prevented them from receiving an extremely valuable component of our program: socialization in a group setting. This game was one of the first such opportunities in about a year.

This first event was a spirited competition, and CRT looks forward to hosting more of these games for seniors in our communities in the coming months.

All of the seniors involved had a wonderful time, and Scot Haney from WFSB News 3 was an incredible host – everyone loved having him with us!

CRT thanks the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Program for the grant to make these events possible.

On April 29, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and CT Treasurer Shawn Wooden hosted an online roundtable discussion about financial literacy and tips to truly empower your financial future. They were joined by CT Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez, and CRT’s Director of Community Services, Elizabeth Horton Sheff, who oversees the agency’s annual Financial Literacy Institute.

You can watch a replay of this free event here:

The next week (May 4, 2021), the program “Where We Live” on Connecticut Public Radio (WNPR) did a special show focusing on teaching financial literacy, and Ms. Horton Sheff shared her insights during the program. You can hear the full broadcast online.

For more information about how CRT can help you to take control of your own financial future, click here.

With a strong history of serving the needs of individuals and families throughout Central Connecticut, coupled with a commitment to helping as many people as possible achieve their personal goals now and in the future, the Community Renewal Team – or CRT – is like a one-stop shop for community-driven programs and services.

As the designated Community Action Agency for both Hartford and Middlesex County, CRT’s dedicated staff work hard each and every day to help people in need.

For more than 55 years, we have worked to create long-term solutions that do more than simply help people stay afloat. We help people build lives of stability, dignity, and sustainability.

We hope you will join us in our vital work that is truly changing lives, and creating opportunities for the people we are proud to serve.

CRT is grateful to the support of CAFCA and the Connecticut Department of Social Services for helping us to make this video about CRT and our programs and services.

Additionally, our deepest thanks to Joan Dylan for providing the narration for this video.

Transportation can be a challenge for seniors, but thanks to the Community Renewal Team’s (CRT) Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), and specifically its Volunteer Medical Transportation (VMT) Program, seniors and veterans can get free rides from their home to medical appointments and back again.

The VMT program has provided thousands of trips to seniors and veterans in multiple cities and town in Central Connecticut since its inception in January 2016.

WFSB reporter Ayah Galal shared details about this valuable service with their viewers, letting people know both how to request rides, and how to become a volunteer.

 

The VMT program remained operational throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, providing more than 1,000 rides to seniors and veterans in need of this service last year. And now the service can provide transportation to COVID-19 vaccine appointments, too.

The VMT program has grown to include eight cities/towns: Berlin, Cromwell, New Britain, Plainville, Southington, Suffield, Windsor, and Windsor Locks.

If you need a ride, or want to become a volunteer driver, please check out the RSVP page for more information.

On Monday, U.S. Congressman John Larson hosted a press conference at CRT’s assisted-living facility in Hartford, The Retreat, to announce subsidies made possible by the American Rescue Plan to lower premiums for Connecticut households enrolled in Access Health CT Plans.

As a result of the American Rescue Plan, it is estimated that 34,000 households will be enrolled in plans that are nearly $0 per month. Connecticut residents can find quality health plans with lower costs than ever before through Access Health CT thanks to the American Rescue Plan.

Access Health CT will open up a special enrollment period May 1 for anyone who wants to purchase health insurance.

“Once the American Rescue Plan is implemented, it will go to over 50% of our customers will pay zero premium or near zero premium,” Access Health CT CEO James Michel said.

That means about 50,000 people won’t be making any monthly premium payments to have health insurance.

Through the American Rescue Plan, it is estimated at least an additional $85 million dollars annually will become available to help make insurance affordable for CT residents for plan years 2021 and 2022.

More information is available from NBC Connecticut:

Some Connecticut Residents To See 2-Year Break On Health Insurance Premiums.

If you need help signing up for health insurance in Connecticut, check out CRT’s health insurance navigator.

CRT’s RSVP Volunteer Medical Transportation program provides free roundtrip rides to seniors like Maureen for needed medical appointments.

Reporter Ken Huston from WTNH News 8 shared details about this valuable service that operates in eight cities and towns in Central Connecticut with their viewers.

Volunteer drivers take seniors and veterans from their homes to medical appointments and then back home again – providing true door-to-door-to-door service – at absolutely no charge to the participant.

CRT’s Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is seeking dedicated volunteer drivers for its Volunteer Medical Transportation (VMT) Program that brings seniors and veterans from their home to medical appointments and back home again – all for free!

The VMT program remained operational throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, providing more than 1,000 rides to seniors and veterans in need of this service last year. And now the service can provide transportation to COVID-19 vaccine appointments, too.

For more information about this valuable program – either to become a volunteer, or to request a future ride – please contact Theresa Strong at: 860-519-3484 or [email protected].

CRT’s 30th Annual National Arts Program show is online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We were able to share details about this year’s show with Shannon Miller from NBC Connecticut.

To accommodate the safety needs of the artists, judges, and guests who will view the artistic work submitted, this year’s National Arts show is available in an online gallery format.

All forms of visual arts were submitted to the show; from paintings and photographs to sculptures, crafts and textiles. Up to two entries could be submitted per artist. This year, CRT encouraged participants to consider creating or submitting art that is related to their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year CRT is using the online platform SmugMug.com to exhibit photos of the art submitted to the show. The gallery link is available for sharing, and CRT encourages artists to share their work in the show with friends and family.

Judging of the submissions to the National Arts show this year took place at the end of March, and winning artists will be notified in April. An online awards reception will occur in May.

The National Arts Program provides materials and funding for this visual art exhibit including awards for winning work totaling $3,450.

Cash prizes will be awarded in each of the following categories:

  • Amateur – an adult with little or no experience
  • Intermediate – an adult with some experience, beginning art students, etc.
  • Professional – an adult with serious art training or employed in an art-related job
  • Youth (12 Years and younger)
  • Teen (ages 13 – 18)
  • Teens Looking Out for Teens (ages 13 – 18) – in this special category, individual teenagers or groups of teens can submit a piece of art that evokes a greater understanding of the social issues affecting teens.

 

Featured image: “Blue” by Caleb Brackett; Professional; Painting (oils, acrylics) – 2021.

In CRT’s latest monthly newsletter we take a look back at some of the programs and services we provide to people in need here in Central Connecticut – and we highlight some of the big changes brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic, including what has been done to support the residents of our homeless shelter in Hartford.

Read the April 2021 newsletter now.

The past year of the Coronavirus pandemic has left many people wondering how they will regain control of their personal financial situation after a year of difficulties and losses.

It has been reported that 51% of people think that it could take years to get their finances back on track, if they are able to do so at all.

CRT’s Director of Community Services, Elizabeth Horton Sheff, spoke with Len Besthoff from NBC Connecticut about how people can retake control of their finances and make a plan for the future.

Remember: There’s no shame in asking for help.

If you need a hand with your personal financial situation, CRT may be able to help you. Connect with our Community Services team for more information.

Complete details from the reporting above are available on the NBC Connecticut website.