Weekly Update - January 20

January 20, 2023


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Dear Neighbor, 

I wanted to remind everyone to take extra care in their morning commutes as our area remains in a Winter Weather Advisory today. Meteorologists are predicting slippery and hazardous conditions through the morning with things clearing up later in the day.


Did you know that winter weather not only has an effect on your commute, but can affect the national blood supply? Last year's extreme weather caused the cancellation of hundreds of blood drives across the country – and as we enter the new year, the American Red Cross has estimated that more than 300 blood drives were cancelled due to weather, resulting in about 9,000 potential donations left uncollected.

Uncollected donations can have devastating effects – maintaining the blood supply is critical to ensuring accident victims who are rushed to emergency rooms, those being treated for cancer, and others who count on transfusions can receive life-saving care without delay.


January is National Blood Donor Month and it's important to remember the ongoing need, especially as we move through the winter. Make an appointment today to give blood or platelets by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

In this email you'll find updates on district resources and news. Please click the links below to read the section that corresponds with the highlighted headline.

A NOTE: If you're having trouble clicking through the following links, open this email in a browser, use a computer or scroll through this email to the relevant section. 

The topics covered are as follows:

On Legislative Business

On Community Resources 

Public Health Committee Again Raises Aid in Dying Bill

On Wednesday, the Public Health Committee voted 22-7 to raise An Act Concerning Aid in Dying to allow terminally ill patients in Connecticut a legal method to end their own lives. Efforts to pass this legislation in Connecticut have been ongoing since at least 1994, with momentum building in more recent years. Last session the bill was voted out of the Public Health Committee, but did not pass out of the Judiciary Committee – and, therefore, did not come up for a vote in either chamber.


Though the legislation has not yet been drafted, the raised bill will likely follow the parameters of past raised bills and laws from other states, permitting mentally competent but terminally ill patients with an estimated six months to live a legal option to end their own lives with doctor-prescribed medication. If passed during this legislative session, Connecticut would join ten states and the District of Columbia in having some form of legalized medical aid-in-dying.


I'd like to know, what do you think about these issues?

CT News Junkie: Public Health Committee Raises Aid in Dying Bill
CT Insider: 'It's hard to keep coming back': Advocates make push to legalize aid-in-dying in CT
WTNH: Lawmakers consider bill to allow aid in dying in Connecticut

East Hartford Acquires Church Corners Property

The Town of East Hartford has officially closed on and now owns the Church Corners Inn located at 860 Main Street. With the assistance of the funding that I was able to secure through the Community Investment Fund, the town was able to make the purchase and will be able to begin a critically needed rehabilitation of the space. Enhancing this area with safe, modern retail and housing space is a necessary investment to connect visitors to the heart of East Hartford.


This will be a major project for the town, and I will continue to provide updates as they are available.


I'd like to know, what do you think about these issues?

Press Release: Town of East Hartford acquires Church Corners property at 860 Main Street
The Register Citizen: East Hartford buys crime-ridden rooming house to create new 'gateway' to downtown
Hartford Courant: East Hartford buys downtown rooming house known for crime and panhandling. Plans call for relocating tenants, gutting building.

Today in CT History: Connecticut’s First African American Woman Pharmacist

Born in Hartford on January 19, 1886, young Anna Louise James was the eighth of 11 children born to Willis James, a former slave who had successfully escaped from a Virginia plantation via the Underground Railroad. As a child, Anna’s family moved from Hartford to Old Saybrook, where she graduated high school and, as a diligent student, sought to pursue some form of higher education. Anna’s large, extended family included two of the only black pharmacists practicing in Connecticut, who likely inspired her to apply to the Brooklyn College of Pharmacy in New York City. She was the only woman in her graduating class, and in 1908, she became the first African American woman to graduate from the institute. The very next year, she successfully applied for a license in her home state, becoming the first African American female pharmacist in Connecticut history.

After college, Anna returned to Old Saybrook to work for her brother-in-law Peter Lane, who had opened the shoreline town’s first drug store several years earlier and installed a soda fountain that made the store a favorite destination for local children. In 1917, after Lane accepted a pharmaceutical sales position for a drug company in Hartford, Anna became the primary manager of the property, and finally assumed sole leadership in 1922. “Miss James,” as she was fondly known throughout the community, promptly renamed the establishment “James’ Pharmacy,” and continued running the store — and soda fountain — for nearly five decades until her retirement in 1967. Living on the upper floors of the historic, late 18th century building that housed her pharmacy, Miss James became a fixture in the downtown Old Saybrook community and a favorite neighbor to the many children — and adults — that frequented James’ popular soda fountain, which included famous Old Saybrook resident Katharine Hepburn.


Anna James was only one of the path-breaking members of her specially accomplished family. Her niece, Ann Lane Petry, daughter of Peter Lane and Bertha James Lane also became a pharmacist and worked in family pharmacy. She went on to become a writer of novels, short stories and children’s books whose 1946 work The Street was the first novel by an African American woman to sell more than a million copies.


After Anna James’ death in 1977 at the age of 91, the venerable James Pharmacy building remained vacant for several years before being purchased and reopened as an ice cream parlor. It subsequently and currently serves as a Gelateria and bed and breakfast. The handsome structure, which Anna Louise James had poured so much time and effort into maintaining, is now on the National Register of Historic Places, and, in recognition of James’ professional achievements as a woman of color, a featured stop on the Connecticut Freedom Trail. A pharmaceutical pioneer and beloved community leader, born today in Connecticut history.


If you'd like to learn more about Anna James and other interesting CT historical figures, click here.

Application Open for MyHomeCT Program

Did you know the MyHomeCT program can help homeowners that are struggling to pay their mortgage and other housing-related expenses? Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Connecticut has been awarded approximately $123 million to establish MyHomeCT. The goal of the program is to cure mortgage delinquencies and defaults and prevent foreclosures among eligible homeowners that occurred because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MyHomeCT Program will offer grant assistance (up to $50,000) which can reinstate, provide up to 12 months’ worth of go-forward payments, or a combination of both to eligible Connecticut homeowners who have suffered a financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The application portal is now open! Apply today by visiting http://www.chfa.org/MyHomeCT or call (877) 894-4111 (toll free).

Scholarship Opportunities for Graduating East Harford Public School Students

Calling all EHPS graduating members of the Class of 2023! The East Hartford Alumni Association and Education Foundation is offering 15 opportunities for scholarships across 9 programs, totaling $27,500 in awards. Apply by March 1 for scholarships between $500 and $5,000 for undergraduate and vocational students alike. Learn more and apply by clicking here.

MECC: Farm-to-School Program Awarded CT Grown 4 CT Kids Grant

Manchester Early Childhood Collaborative (MECC) Farm-to-School Program was selected as one of 32 recipients of the CT Grown 4 CT Kids Grant. Administered by the Department of Agriculture, the grant will enhance farm-to-school programs by increasing the availability of local foods in child nutrition programs, allowing educators to use hands-on educational techniques to teach students about nutrition and farm-to-school connections, and sustaining relationships with local farmers and producers.


The combination of the efforts will ultimately enrich the educational experience of students – helping to improve the health of children in the state and enhance the state's economy. Read more about the grant and the other recipients, here.

East Hartford Offering Tax Preparation & Assistance Services

Looking for help this tax season? The Town of East Hartford is offering several free tax service preparation services:

  • The East Hartford Public Library has collaborated with United Way to offer free tax preparation services to families with household income of up to $55,000 through IRS-certified VITA volunteers from the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut will be at Raymond Library on Sundays from 1PM-4:30PM, February 5 – April 2.
  • The AARP Tax Aide Program will be available to residents at the Senior Center Tuesday, February 7 – Friday, April 14.

To participate in the above services, taxpayers must register. For the VITA services at Raymond Library, dial 211 to set up an appointment. For tax help appointments at the Senior Center, call (860) 291-7460. Free Federal forms and tax information booklets are also available at the library. Click here for more information.

Manchester Launches 2023-24 Human Services Directory

The 2023-24 edition of the Manchester Human Services Directory, created by Senior, Adult & Family Services, is now available! The Directory provides an extensive listing of local agencies, contacts and other resources that may be especially helpful to you.


The Directory can be found here or by calling Senior, Adult & Family Services at (860) 647-3096 or Customer Service at (860) 647-5235. You can also request a copy mailed to you, or pick it up at Senior, Adult & Family, Customer Service or the Senior Center.

COVID-19 Updates & Upcoming Vaccine Clinics

The East Hartford Health Department offers regular vaccination services at the Community Cultural Center. Both the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 bivalent boosters, as well as Flu, will be offered for all ages 12+. Appointments are required and will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10AM-2PM. To schedule an appointment, call (860) 291-7324 (option 1).

Free COVID-19 test kits are also available at the East Hartford Health Department's new location in Room B09 of the Community Cultural Center. Testing is recommended for any individual currently experiencing symptoms or think they have been exposed to COVID-19 (i.e., fever, dry cough, and tiredness). For guidance on how to use the kits, click here.


For any questions regarding pediatric COVID-19 vaccines, booster dose eligibility, or to schedule an appointment at an upcoming clinic, contact the East Hartford Health Department at (860) 291-7324. If transportation is needed to get to and from a clinic site, please contact the Health Department for assistance. 

The White House relaunched the program making free at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests available to every U.S. household. Just as before, you can order tests through COVIDTests.gov and enter your shipping information. Every U.S. household is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests.


The Administration will also make tests available to individuals who are blind or have low vision through this program. People who have difficulty accessing the internet or need additional support placing an order can call +1 (800) 232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages – 8AM-8PM E.T., Monday to Friday and 8AM-5PM E.T. on weekends.

For more information on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine or to locate an appointment near you, click here or locate a DPH Mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinic by clicking here. Those without access to the internet can call the Connecticut’s Vaccine Appointment Assist Line, available seven days a week from 8 AM to 8 PM, at (877) 918-2224.


For East Hartford-based COVID-19 updates and resources, click here. And, for Manchester-based COVID-19 updates and resources, click here.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Manchester, with Amplify and the Glastonbury Community Action Partnership, will present a Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training at the Riverfront Community Center in Glastonbury tomorrow, January 21 from 10AM-12PM. As a QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer)-trained Gatekeeper you will learn to recognize the warning signs of suicide and know how to offer help and hope.


A Narcan training will be offered during the last 30 minutes of training; free Narcan kits will be provided.  You must register to participate, sign-up by sending an email to Mirela.Mujcinovic@glastonbury.ct-gov.

Stop by Whiton Memorial Library on Wednesday, February 1 at 6PM to take a tour of items from The Connecticut Historical Society’s collection representing a spectrum of the Black experience in Connecticut. No registration required – click here for more information.

Head to Manchester Public Library on "Take Your Child to the Library Day" to check out some books and enjoy a great show! Jocelyn Pleasant & the Lost Tribe will provide an exciting, family-oriented program of African drumming and dancing on Saturday, February 4 at 10:30AM. For more information call the Children’s Room at (860) 645-0577.

East Hartford Youth Services (EHYS) is offering a space for boys and girls boys ages 10-12 (grades 5-8) explore and learn about themselves, others, and the world beginning January 24 and running through April 9 (there will be no groups on March 15 and April 12).

Registration closes February 24. Learn more about these and other EHYS events by clicking here.

Living Room Conversations offer a simple and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Join an upcoming conversation about social equity in-person on Sunday, January 29, 2PM-3:30PM or virtually on Tuesday, February 7, 6:30PM-8PM. Click here for more information and to register.

Patrons of all ages will have the opportunity to play with a variety of puppets at this "Take Your Child to the Library Day" program on Saturday, February 4 from 11AM-1PM at East Hartford Public Library. Register for a reminder by clicking here.

My office is always open if you or your family are in need of assistance. Please do not hesitate to contact me by email at Jason.Rojas@cga.ct.gov or by phone at 860-240-8541.


Jason Rojas


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