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Probus Greater Hartford – Quiet But Not For Long

Probus supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in the Greater Hartford area, including treating program participants to tickets to sporting events. Courtes of Probus

West Hartford-based Probus will be holding a gala fundraiser to support its mission of improving the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

By Adrienne Leinwand Maslin

The Greater Hartford community probably knows of Probus more by sight than by name.

For over two decades, volunteers of Probus Greater Hartford have been selling balloons at West Hartford’s annual Memorial Day parade. Probus, which stands for Professional and Business people, is an organization whose mission is to support and improve the quality of life of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in the Greater Hartford area. Probus is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and is run entirely by volunteers.

Up to now, the balloon sale was Probus’ biggest fundraising event, raising tens of thousands of dollars to put towards summer camp scholarships at Camp Horizons in South Windham, CT, and for projects and events that support the IDD community of Greater Hartford. More recently, Probus has supported special needs education through its teacher-initiated classroom project grants. These grants are awarded through an open application and review process and teachers from several Greater Hartford schools including American School for the Deaf, Intensive Education Academy, River Street School, Norfeldt School, Gengras Center, Bloomfield Public Schools, Hartford Public Schools, Oak Hill School, and R.J. Kinsella School have been recipients.

Some of the projects that have been funded through these grants include a community garden project, music therapy program, a digital communication device for a non-verbal student, a poetry reading and writing workshop, and the purchase of special reading materials.

Each year Probus holds a picnic for residents of group homes where the residents and their caregivers enjoy grilled hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, and cookies; dancing to the tunes of a DJ; and a swag bag to bring home. Over the years these individuals have additionally been treated to sporting events such as Hartford Yard Goats home games, and men’s and women’s basketball through affiliations with the Athletics Departments of the University of Hartford and Central Connecticut State University.

The need for services for the IDD community is great. Towards that end, Probus will mount its first fundraising gala which will be held at The Hartford Club on Thursday, June 9.

With the theme “Helping Hands and Caring Hearts,” Probus will honor a new group of grant recipients from schools in the Greater Hartford area as well as other members of the Greater Hartford community whose dedication to serving IDD individuals is great. These include Central Connecticut State University, Connecticut’s Department of Developmental Services, CCARC, and Camp Courant. The evening will include raffles, an auction, music by NYC’s “Bill Dobrow and Friends,” and will feature Hartford Foundation for Public Giving President Jay Williams as keynote speaker.

Probus volunteers have been contacting local businesses that might wish to place an ad in the gala’s program booklet and donate raffle and auction prizes. The special needs community in the Greater Hartford region relies heavily on the generous support of our local businesses.

To borrow from an insurance company’s slogan, Probus can be thought of as “the quiet” organization. It has not done much to publicize itself and its activities, but the volunteer staff hopes that will change. We strongly believe in the importance of the Probus mission and, through our work, plan to convey that message to the broader community whenever and wherever we can.

Please visit https://www.hartfordprobus.org/ to learn more about the gala and more about Probus. To purchase an ad in our program book, donate a gift for the teacup raffle, or buy a ticket for the gala, please contact Adrienne Maslin at [email protected]. Thank you for your support.

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