December 31, 2021
A Year-End Thank You!
As we approach the end of the year, we want to thank our donors, customers, and partners for their generous support. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to improve and impact the lives of those we serve.
Additionally, we’re always looking for new volunteers to help us expand our outreach and service to the community. Please let us know if you are interested. We’d love to hear from you!
Fresh Start Pallet Products Builds 28 Raised Garden Beds for Manchester Community Garden
The Town of Manchester selected Fresh Start Pallet Products to build 28 Raised Garden Beds at their Community Center on Spruce Street. The project was funded by a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and allowed the town to replace some older garden beds. The Garden Beds are 33 inches high, allowing the gardeners comfortable access, without having to bend for extended periods of time. The higher beds also allow people in wheelchairs to plant, weed, and harvest.
The project was managed by the Office of Neighborhoods and Families for the Town of Manchester. Recreation Supervisor James Przybylski coordinated the town departments of engineering, maintenance, and others to prepare the site and fill the large beds with topsoil. Fresh Start staff built the 4-by-8-foot beds in panels that were assembled on site by volunteers and staff over several days.
Fox News Channel 61 heard about the effort and covered the project at both the Fresh Start shop on Sargeant Street in Hartford and at the Spruce Street location.
The Town of Manchester was so pleased with the work by Fresh Start, that we’re in the process of defining an expansion of the project. The expansion includes adding: 12 additional Garden Beds and a Garden Education Wheel designed for elementary education use.
Fresh Start Teams Up with Community Solutions
To Create Furnishings for the Swift Factory
Fresh Start leadership was excited when Patrick McKenna, Senior Project Manager for Community Solutions and licensed architect, reached out to team members Anne O’Brien and Rich Carmen about building furnishings for the Swift Factory property conversion, a landmark project.
Working closely with Patrick’s team, the Fresh Start crew designed custom conference, dining, and coffee tables, and an impressive reception desk. These furniture designs incorporated antique timbers found during the factory’s renovation. as well as parts from the gold-plating machinery. This afforded a creative way to usefully display the history of the building, one of the Swift Factory’s primary objectives. When the exterior courtyard was being built, McKenna ordered Fresh Start comfort chairs and benches for its delightful atrium garden, allowing tenants to sit back and enjoy a relaxing meal in beautiful surroundings.
The Swift Factory, once the largest gold-leafing manufacturer in the country and part of the City’s economic heart employing more than 300 residents, fell to the industrial decline of the late 20th century. Closing in 2005, the 100-plus-year-old site sat vacant, facing demolition. The local NRZ community group with Hartford Preservation Alliance rallied to save the buildings. The Swift family donated the entire campus to Community Solutions in 2010, and it was later added to the National Register of Historic Places.
After extensive community engagement, Community Solutions has now achieved its goal of transforming the Swift Factory into a multi-purpose community and entrepreneurial hub. It features incubator kitchens for budding culinary businesses, office coworking spaces for local entrepreneurs, and ample flexible space for community use, all fostering neighborhood growth and revitalization.
We are very proud of this successful partnership with Community Solutions. The project exemplifies how working together can make a difference in changing lives and improving disadvantaged communities.
Fresh Start Partners with Winterfest Hartford
Fresh Start worked with the iQuilt organization to design and build a number of items for Winterfest Hartford in Bushnell Park. Items included wooden Christmas trees, game boards, outdoor furniture and a large arbor entryway. Most of the items were made from reclaimed shipping pallets. Winterfest Hartford brings free ice skating, free skate rentals, and more to Bushnell Park, 11 am to 8 pm, daily through Monday, January 9.
Colin Green Joins Fresh Start
Colin Green began his career in woodworking more than a decade ago, when he trained as a luthier and worked at Fender’s USA Northeast custom shop (formerly Kaman/Ovation) in New Hartford. This was his day job; he restored antique furniture at night, and his hobby was woodcarving: “All wood, all the time,” he says. As he became more proficient, he wanted to teach what he was learning, but didn’t know where to turn. So when the wife of Fresh Start Board member Dave Elovich mentioned to Colin’s wife that Fresh Start was looking for a shop supervisor, the connection was made. And clinching the match: Fresh Start wanted to begin with with a part-time supervisor: Colin hoped for an opportunity with a flexible schedule. In this new position, Colin brings a gentle demeanor as well as his wealth of knowledge. Both the more experienced workers and the new trainees are excited to be working with him. We welcome Colin to the Fresh Start Family.
In addition to Colin, Fresh Start recently added another employee: Ken Bassett. Ken is an artist and house painter that has come to Fresh Start in hopes of learning new skills in woodworking and carpentry. He is attending the current FSA training course and he is eager to learn. Ken has a lot of growth potential and is quickly becoming another strong member of the Fresh Start team, we are happy to have him with us.
Fresh Start Academy Completes First Round of Trainees
At the awards ceremony, Fresh Start Chairman Warren M. Boley Jr. said, “We are exceptionally proud of Hussen and Ruben. Not only were they breaking new ground at Fresh Start, they were model students in learning technical skills. They also enthusiastically embraced the important elements of personal growth and development. Their enthusiasm was contagious.”
We recently learned that Fresh Start is eligible for federal job training and work readiness funds. Therefore, leadership is pursuing these and other grant opportunities to ensure the continuation of this critical initiative.
Happy New Year!
Fresh Start wishes you a Happy New Year and we look forward to sharing more of our stories, products and successes with you in 2022.
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