The month of May is moving right along, and the Chamber Calendar continues to be filled with events and activities.
This Friday, May 24, Connecticut Valley Hospital hosts the Middletown Mentor Program Year End Celebration Picnic. The Picnic is an opportunity for Mentors and Mentees to get together for a “fun filled day out” from work and school. The featured entertainment will be The Magic of Christopher, with music and dancing by DJ Tileen.
With over 20 years of mentoring, the Middletown Mentor Program, a partnership between the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce and the Middletown Board of Education, runs only during the school year as volunteer Mentors meet with their Mentees weekly for 45-50 minutes, usually during lunch time, on site at one of the Middletown public schools.
All eight of Middletown’s elementary schools, as well as Keigwin Middle School, Wilson Middle School, Middletown High School and Vinal Technical High School, participate in the program. Through the recommendation of a teacher, principal or parent, a child in Grades 2-5 is selected to be a participant in the Middletown Mentor Program.
The program not only provides students with a valuable role model, but also fills their need for a trusted friend who will commit to listening, sharing, and understanding, and as a result, we hope these students will realize greater motivation and self-esteem, as well as a heightened desire to remain in school. Many of the Mentor/Mentee relationships continue throughout Middle and High School, into adult hood.
As I have noted in previous weeks, this very successful program is doing great work in the City of Middletown, and I would like to once again thank founding members, Hal Kaplan, for serving as the Schools Coordinator of the Middletown Mentor Program, and Sylvia Webb, who has done a fine job assisting Hal.
My special thanks to Helene Vartelas, Chief Operating Officer, Connecticut Valley Hospital, for annually hosting the Celebration Picnic, and many of her staff members who volunteer as Mentors, including Cheryl Kraft, a Mentor, who also serves as the Chairwoman of the Middletown Mentor Core Committee. For more information on the Middletown Mentor Program please contact Chamber Staff Liaison Jennifer De Kine Email: email@example.com.
We continue to see increased economic development activity in our area as we celebrate multiple grand openings and open house events.
Last Thursday, May 16, Mayor Dan Drew and I attended a terrific Open House event at the brand new MHQ facility in Middletown. MHQ is a regional upfitter of municipal vehicles including police, fire, public works, construction, university and many other public service agencies throughout the northeast.
Established in 1979, MHQ has upfitted more than 80,000 special-purpose vehicles ranging from police cars, specialized law enforcement cars and trucks to motorcycles, SUV’s and heavy-duty trucks. We are very excited that the company has decided to move its Connecticut operation to Middletown, and we look forward to working with them as they grow their brand.
Tomorrow afternoon, May 21, Mayor Drew and I will head to NorthEast Financial on South Main Street in Middletown for a Grand Opening event. NorthEast Financial was founded in 2006 as a Connecticut Mortgage Broker and has recently opened this office in Middletown. I want to thank David Rosenberg and the NorthEast Financial team for hosting the Mayor and me, and we welcome them to the Middletown business community.
On Thursday afternoon, May 23, I am also looking forward to attending an Open House event hosted by HAKS Engineers, P.C., to celebrate the expansion of the company’s office at their Industrial Park Road location in Middletown.
There is also some important economic development news from across the river. Chris Cote’s Gold Shop, an outstanding Portland business, is constructing a new building on Route 66 to accommodate its expanding operations. Farrell’s Restaurant & Caterers is also expanding its operations and is adding on to its existing facility, also located on Route 66. I would like to thank Chris Cote along with Art & Mary Ellen Hetrick from Farrell’s for their commitment to Portland and to Middlesex County.
On Wednesday morning, May 22, I will attend a Grand Opening at the new Melilli Caffé & Grill on Main Street in Portland. I look forward to celebrating the new location of this business with owner Seby Milardo and his team, Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield, Mary Dickerson, who serves as Portland Economic Development Coordinator and Chair of the Chamber’s Portland Division, and many other local officials and supporters.
Over in East Hampton, plans to further develop the downtown center with a mix of retail and housing is truly an exciting initiative. This Chamber looks forward to working with town officials and other key stakeholders as the project moves forward.
Last Wednesday evening, May 15, I attended a great event hosted by the Community Renewal Team at the Hartford Marriott Downtown which celebrated the organization’s 50 years of service to the citizens of central Connecticut. I enjoyed the keynote address given by Mark K. Shriver who serves as Senior Vice President of Save the Children. Mark has recently written a book about his father, Sargent R. Shriver, who helped to implement the War on Poverty and assisted in the development of the Peace Corps in the early days of the initiative. I would like to thank the Co-Chairs of the Gala who spoke at the event, Mark Maselli, President and CEO of the Community Health Center, and Dr. Elsa Nunez, President, Eastern Connecticut State University, and CRT President and CEO Lena Rodriguez for putting on a terrific event.
The Middlesex Businesswomen’s Alliance (MBA) met on Wednesday, May 15, at The Mattabesett Canoe Club at Harbor Park. Over 40 women attended this event which featured a presentation on “Discovering Your Personality”, presented by Chamber member Anne Garland. I want to thank our MBA Co-Chairs, Isabel Jackson and Terresa Long, for their leadership of this great committee and their support of our Chamber.
The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce recently contributed to the Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial. This organization has announced plans to construct a living trees memorial in Veterans’ Memorial Park in Middletown. The memorial will encompass a beautifully designed space that will include a tree planted for each of our state’s heroes who gave their life serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. A personalized plaque will be displayed next to each tree.
We look forward to hosting a Check Presentation Ceremony tomorrow afternoon, May 21, in front of the Chamber building on Main Street. This informal presentation will include Liberty Bank President and Chamber Chairman Chandler Howard, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, American Legion Post 75 Commander Phil Cacciola, and Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial Chairperson Sue Martucci.
This Wednesday evening, May 22, the New Britain Rock Cats will sponsor and host the Chamber’s annual Members Only Business After Work Networking event at New Britain Stadium. This popular event will feature free beer, wine, soft drinks, hot dogs and other great baseball fare. The picnic runs from 5:35 to 7:05 p.m. and will be held at the stadium’s special picnic area down the right field line.
The Rock Cats will take on the Binghamton Mets, first pitch at 6:35 p.m. I would like to thank Rock Cats President Bill Dowling and his terrific staff for hosting us at the stadium, and for continuing to provide a family friendly atmosphere and a great product on the field.
Looking ahead, the 2013 Travelers Championship will be played at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell from June 17-23. PGA Tour Pro Zach Johnson will speak at the Chamber’s Annual Travelers Championship Member Breakfast Meeting on Tuesday, June 18, at the Crowne Plaza Cromwell. Tickets for the golf tournament are now available at the Chamber office, 393 Main St., in Middletown.
Finally, we are very much looking forward to the Chamber’s Annual Awards Dinner to be held on Wednesday, June 5, at the Crowne Plaza Cromwell. The Annual Awards Dinner is always a great event which gives us an opportunity to present our Distinguished Citizen Awards, our Michael L. Green Award, The Lorraine C. McHugh Scholarship, The Harry H.S. Phillips Jr. Scholarship, and The Judge Raymond E. Baldwin Scholarship.
This year, we again have the opportunity to honor terrific recipients of these prestigious awards. The 2013 Distinguished Citizen Award recipients are: William E. Wrang III, Executive Vice President, Webster Bank, Edwin H. “Ted” May III, Partner, May, Bonee & Walsh, and George W. “Sonny” Whelen IV, Executive Vice President, Whelen Engineering, Co, Inc.
These three gentlemen are truly distinguished citizens and deserve to be recognized for their great work and service to our community. The Michael L. Green Award will be presented that evening to Lieutenant Todd R. Ghent, a member of the Portland Fire Department.
The Michael L. Green Award is presented annually to a member of the police or fire community for his or her outstanding service to the community and to the Chamber. Our three scholarship winners this year are: Caroline P. Barton of Westbrook High School, Recipient of The Judge Raymond E. Baldwin Scholarship, Catherine C. Kannam of Mercy High School, Recipient of The Harry H.S. Phillips Scholarship, and Ryan Pomroy of Valley Regional High School, Recipient of The Lorraine C. McHugh Scholarship. These three students are terrific, and we are very proud of them.
Finally, The Annual Awards Dinner marks the official change in Chairmanship of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Liberty Bank President Chandler Howard is completing a very successful term as Chairman, and Darlene Briggs, Owner and Operator of Cominfortainment, Inc., in Westbrook will be taking over. We could not ask for two better business people who are dedicated to their community than these two terrific individuals. I am very proud of them both, and I thank them for their loyal service to our organization.
I must close this week’s column on a sad note. James J. “Jim” Shapiro passed away recently after a brief illness. Jim was a fine businessman and educator in the city of Middletown who donated his time and effort to a number of different community initiatives. He dedicated many years to Middlesex Community College and the Connecticut Community and Technical College System which has helped to educate thousands of students in our state. Our thoughts are with Jim’s wife Nancy and their family at this difficult time. He will be missed.
For more information on Chamber events and activities, contact Jeff Pugliese at firstname.lastname@example.org.