Experience We-Ha Lifestyle People

Episode no. 12: Experience We-Ha Podcast with Patti Albee – ‘Neighbors and Friends in West Hartford’

We are so thankful for Patti Albee – a “Neighbor and Friend” for all of West Hartford.

By Ryan Keating

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends, it’s the perfect time to reflect on those who have made an impact on your life – either in the past, today, or as a neighbor and friend. Jeff Lovanio and I recently had the amazing opportunity to sit down with Patti Albee, founder of the infamous “Neighbors and Friends of West Hartford” Facebook group. We had the chance to get to know the person behind the screen when she agreed to be a guest for the Experience We-Ha Podcast.  

“West Hartford is such a great town, and we have so much to be thankful for, and I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank Patti Albee, who for more than six years has run the Neighbors and Friends in West Hartford Facebook page,” said Ronni Newton, editor of We-Ha.com, and past podcast guest. “The page has a huge following, and provides incredible value to the community in so many ways. Sometimes people don’t ‘behave’ appropriately on the page, and hats off to Patti for being so patient. What she does is often a thankless job – and she doesn’t even get paid for it – but I’d like to publicly say thank you and let her know how grateful I am for what she does.”

If you do not know of the Neighbors and Friends page, “Patti does such a fantastic job (and it is a job) of keeping things in check in the group of almost 15,000 members to make sure the people of the community have a voice on the platform while at the same time ensuring fairness and respect throughout. Cheers and thanks to Patti for the works she does!” said Jeff Lovanio. Originating as a personal Facebook post in 2012 to let friends know of a local break-in the neighborhood, Patti never imagined that one post would resonate with so many others. She now receives 20-40 requests each day from people who would like to join the group. 

Neighbors and Friends provides a localized resource to get word-of-mouth information on-demand. Posts range from recommendations for local services, information about a lost dog/cat, restaurants, or making people aware of accidents or school delays. One other major role the page has provided is a community forum to talk and promote the positive things going on in the town, along with the ability to help those in need at various times.

With great things come great responsibilities, and as John Lyons, aka the “weatherman” said, “Patti has a huge responsibility as administrator for Neighbors and Friends. Her task is sometimes impossible and yet she is conscientious, thorough, and caring every step of the way.”

It is not easy when having to delete posts, shut down comments, or remove members. She has to take an unbiased approach for the better of the group and has “the patience of a saint,” said Cara Paiuk, one of the three administrators who helps assist with moderating, because as Patti mentioned, when she tries to go on vacation, the notifications never stop.

Sandy Holland, another one of the administrators, said, “Patti is one of the most patient and open-minded people I know. She provided such a wonderful resource to our community by creating and overseeing this page. It’s not just about plumber referrals and lost pets. There are handfuls of spin-off pages that have been created by her bringing us all together and countless friendships that have been formed all from this page!”

Patti, we want to let you know how thankful the community of West Hartford is for what you do, and below are some quotes from local business owners and community members:

“As I begin my preparations for Thanksgiving I am overcome with gratitude to be able to serve my hometown community as mayor, where my husband and I started a family, where we raised our four sons, where two of our sons and daughter-in-law now live, and where my remarkable 90-year-old mother remains in her home of 55 years. West Hartford is an amazing community, vibrant, diverse, and involved, engaged and caring. There are many residents who work on ways to connect and inform our community. I have known Patti for years – as a preschool teacher, a girl scout leader and now a major connector of our community. Neighbors and Friends is a place where a question can be asked and promptly answered, where people can relate to each other and concerns vented and discussed. It introduces new members of our community to our amazing town and informs long term residents of all our community has to offer. Patti has made a concerted effort to keep the political and harsh discourse off the site so constructive discussions can take place. I am so grateful to have Patti and the other administrative volunteers to run something so important for our community,” said Mayor Shari G. Cantor.

Barbara Lerner, executive director of the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, said, “I use Friends and Neighbors to hear what is happening in town on a more personal level. I especially like that I can get referrals for things I need done like house painting, roofing, snow plowing, etc. It is a great resource for me.”

Johnny Paindiris, owner of Effie’s Place Restaurant and co-president of the Park Road Association, said, “I ditto what Barbara Lerner said as well, as I get to promote my business and the Park Road neighborhood. Patti has been kind and generous to both.”

“I have also heard from so many business owners as to how much F&N helps their business. It’s essentially free marketing to thousands and thousands of local people. On Park Road, where we have 140 small businesses, it makes all the difference in the world when you gain that kind of exposure,” said Playhouse on Park Executive Director and Park Road Association Co-President Tracy Flater, a past podcast guest.

“Neighbors and Friends Facebook is a great resource for the Town of West Hartford to share information with our residents or to seek feedback. We have used the site to conduct community surveys, to invite the public to meetings on complex issues, to share recycling tips, and to prepare for storms. We are grateful to Patti for her good work in giving the community a voice on this social media platform,” said Renée McCue, public relations specialist for the Town of West Hartford.

Andrew Bachman, owner of Trout Brook Landscaping and past podcast guest, feels Neighbors and Friends is “the beginning of something that’s going to pay dividends for the community and culture of West Hartford. I am really happy someone put the effort and time into page administration. It has helped with my business and improved quality of life for the community with positive information sharing that would not be able to be found any other way.”

“Thanks to Patti for keeping this page functional with accurate and important info. It has been a great resource for me personally when I need a service preformed and also a source of referrals for my business as well as other great independent insurance agencies throughout West Hartford,” said Jim Berry of Berry Insurance Associates.

“Like so many people, I’ve used it when I need help – finding an electrician and identifying someone trying to fix my furnace are just two examples. But far beyond that it serves an important purpose. Neighbors and Friends strengthens our town. At a time when political rancor dominates so much of what we see on social media, Patti deserves a lot of credit for creating and maintaining a digital community that’s welcome and opening to all people,” said State Rep. Derek Slap (D-West Hartford).

“As a business owner and faithful West Hartford Community organizer – I feel that our Neighbor and Friends of West Hartford site is a wonderful community service. It enables me to interface with the community in a way that I could never do on my own. I can offer my advice and assistance regarding a problem they are having with their homes instantly. Patti takes her role as administrator quite seriously and always goes out of her way to be fair and balanced. In some ways, I feel like I am giving back when I am able help solve a problem someone is having. It is a wonderful way to find volunteers and other like-minded folks to work on community projects as well,” said Cathy Davis, owner of Bartlett Brainard Products Company.

Kathy Barnett, publisher of CT Kids and Family, Me Time In CT, said, “Friends and Neighbors is always the go to when I’m in need of house repairs, odd jobs, and, silly as it seems – an accurate weather forecast. Patti has done an amazing job providing and maintaining this resource for our town!”

“The Facebook page Neighbors and Friends, is an incredible resource being a hybrid between Yelp and a community forum. People can ask for recommendations and get a diverse range of personal answers, many of which have the businesses tagged. This opens a personal connection between the business of our town and the inquirer. Just recently, Daswani was tagged in response to a gentleman asking about a custom suit. I was able to message the gentleman, our conversation led to a visit, a follow up visit, and eventually a sale. It is a very useful page and we as a community are lucky to have it, and we thank Patti for all of her involvement with the page,” said Matthew Banever of Daswani, president of the West Hartford Center Business Association and a Board member of the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce and FLOW – Future Leaders of West Hartford.

“Patti does such a great service for the greater West Hartford community as the administrator of the Facebook page Neighbors and Friends in West Hartford. As the chairperson of the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, it is a great resource for our members and the greater community. I personally give advice on the page and my business has been referred countless times. Thanks is not enough for what Patti does for our great community,” said Robert Kulakowski, chairperson of the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce. 

“This group has been a wonderful resource for the Junior League of Hartford as we have been able to share our events and successes with the community. Show House 2018 was one of our largest events to date and through just one post, we were able to engage over 500 neighbors and raise thousands of dollars for our service projects. In addition, we recently held our annual Volunteerathon (26.2 hours of community service), we participated in a cleanup walk with the Park Road Association, and worked on so many other projects. We love meeting and volunteering with our West Hartford neighbors and we appreciate all of the support we have received through the group. On a personal level, I have been able to take advantage of countless recommendations and last year I was able to connect with a local business when I needed to complete an operations project for a MBA class, so it has been helpful for me on an individual basis, too!” said Kathryn Joerg of the Junior League of Hartford.

“Patti Albee has helped me more than she will ever know. My business is primarily off this page. I’m beyond grateful for she and all the amazing clients that have come to me. Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for the success I’ve achieved,” said Kristin Harpie, owner of Muscle Mechanic.

“I’m very grateful for my loving, large, fun loving extended family … and to be able to have a wonderful home that is open to all and warm for my daughter Katie, and Mary. I’m thankful for the privilege of serving West Hartford as a town councilor. I love West Hartford, our welcoming community, and our helpful friends on Facebook taken care of by the one and only Patti. This page has helped countless friends and neighbors navigate life issues, large and small. Thank you!” said Town Council member Mary Fay.

We wish everyone a fun-filled Thanksgiving and Happy Holiday season – and hope you enjoy the podcast interview with Patti Albee!

Now is a great time to reach out to someone in your life who has influenced you and tell them “Thank You.” It goes a long way.

Ryan Keating is Vice President of Keating Agency Insurance, a third-generation family business protecting what is important to you, and co-host of the Experience WeHa Podcast with Jeff Lovanio, founder of Experience We-Ha, your mobile resource for everything West Hartford.

In this episode of the Experience We-Ha podcast, Jeff and Ryan talk with Patti Albee, creator, and administrator of the popular local Facebook group, Neighbors and Friends in West Hartford.

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Episode Chapters:

1:23 – Intro Patti/How NF got its start

4:57 – Patti’s connection to West Hartford

7:45 – NF peak hours/days

8:49 – Handling information through NF

9:16 – Challenges as admin of NF

15:12 – How has NF evolved over the years

16:21 – Business Posting

18:08 – Using the group for research/polling

20:44 – Humor and sensitivity

23:32 – Local contributors – News/Weather

24:39 – What’s next for NF

27:55 – Patti’s favorite We-Ha dish

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