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West Hartford Business Buzz: November 6, 2017

Futures Inc. is in the process of moving into 902 South Quaker Lane. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.

By Ronni Newton

This has been one of those weeks that has seemed incredibly long.

It’s been full of highs – like attending the ADL Torch of Liberty Award Dinner on Monday and the “Inspiring Equity CommUNITY” dinner on Friday night – both of which provided the opportunity to speak with so many interesting people who are such an integral part of the rich tapestry of this community.

We didn’t get many trick-or-treaters at our house this year, and I bought way too much chocolate, mostly the kind I like. I’m not sure if that’s a high or low.

The extra hour of sleep was definitely a high, but I have already ignored my body clock and stayed up way too late on a Sunday night.

Covering the “bullying” incident at the University of Hartford that came to light this week after the arrest of a student was definitely a low. What one teen has done to another is horrific, and probably one of the worst – and definitely the most disgusting – incidents I have ever written about. And while the sensationalistic nature of the incident caused it to go viral and make the news across the world (I got an alert about stories in Australia and New Zealand), only local media cared enough to follow up and find how the school’s administration will move forward. Please note that I put the word “bullying” in quotation marks because of where the legal proceedings currently stand. While West Hartford Police have requested that felony charges of “intimidation based on bigotry or bias” be added to the warrant, which would classify the incident as a hate crime, to the best of my knowledge (and according to the most up-to-date court records), the court has not yet done that.

Tuesday is Election Day. Thank you to all of the candidates for sending in their profiles (100 percent participation this year!), and to those who wrote endorsement letters. All of the profiles, as well as any other information you want or need to know about Election Day is now combined into one story. Click here for those details.

If you have tips about businesses opening or closing, or doing something worth sharing, please provide that information in the comments or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].

Here’s this week’s Buzz:

  • One of West Hartford’s oldest buildings, the 1865 Italianate-style office building at 902 South Quaker Ln. (right near the Elmwood Community Center at the corner of Burgoyne Street), was formerly home to marketing firm WondriskaRusso, but was sold in September to Futures Inc. a not-for-profit agency and ARC affiliate that provides individualized services to individuals with disabilities. The agency has moved its corporate office from Middletown to West Hartford, and Executive Director Pamela DonAroma, who will move her own office into the building on Monday, noted that the new location will place them in close proximity to Futures School which was already located at 1030 New Britain Ave. Futures School is a community based school that specializes in individualized education programs for students with special educational needs. Along with corporate headquarters, the space will be the center for Futures Community-based Transition Program for students ages 18-21 who have completed their academic requirements for high school, but may remain in school to age 21. In addition to vocational opportunities, Futures will provide functional academics, community participation and independent living skills training. Students will learn critical life skills through a hands-on skills based curriculum. Futures Inc. was started in 1989 and has been nationally recognized for its innovative approach to working with clients with intellectual and physical disabilities. The agency also operates Good Cause Gifts, a gift store with locations in Berlin, CT, and at the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain. Good Cause Gifts was Connecticut’s first social enterprise and the stores are staffed by people with various disabilities. For more information about Futures Inc. visit their website futures-ct.org.

    Michael (left) and Shari (right) with UConn President Susan Herbst at the ADL Torch of Liberty Awards Dinner on Oct. 30. The Cantors were both honored with a Torch of Liberty Award. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Congratulations to West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor and her husband, Michael Cantor, who were honored last Monday night with the Anti-Defamation League’s Torch of Liberty Award! ADL Connecticut Regional Director Steve Ginsburg said in an email that funds raised from the event (including more than $16,000 that was was raised just during the “text to donate” portion of the event) “will support our anti-bias education programs across the state and our organization’s capacity to respond to increased incidents of hate and bias.” UConn President Susan Herbst introduced the Cantors, and before they spoke to the audience of more than 300, their four sons sang a beautiful rendition of “If I Had a Hammer.” Compliance services business owner Medina Jett was also honored with the Torch of Liberty Award, and former U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly received the Irwin J. Hausman ADL Civil Rights Award.

    Helping sell HALO products and We-Ha Vineyard Vines clothing and accessories at Lux Bond & Green’s Ladies Night on Thursday. Photo credit: Joy Taylor

  • Do you have your 2017 “We Care Card” yet to support Foodshare? Savings last through Sunday, Nov. 12 at more than 50 businesses – retailers and restaurants – in The Center and Blue Back Square. Click here for a list of participants that are offering discounts and other special offers. “We Care” helps those who are food insecure right here in Greater Hartford. Each $50 donation equates to 125 local meals. The cards are available at all participating merchants, or can be purchased online by clicking here. Joy Taylor and I would also like to thank all who came out last Thursday to share a cocktail and a cupcake for Ladies Night at Lux Bond & Green, and remind you that the We Care Card will also save you 40 percent off our exclusive We-Ha Vineyard Vines ties, polo shirts, Shep shirts, belts, and tote bags and a variety of HALO portable power devices. And don’t miss the cool video about We Care at the end of this column!
  • Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage will be holding a food drive/cocktail party on Thursday, Nov. 9, from 5-7 p.m. at the 992 Farmington Ave. office. There will be wine, and food has been donated by some of West Hartford Center’s top restaurants – and you can attend for the “price” of a non-perishable food item. All donations will be given to the West Hartford Food Pantry.
  • From the Hall High School website – and with our congratulations, too! “Congratulations are in order for one of our own! Lauren Drazen has been selected by the Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools to receive one of two 2017 Outstanding Chinese Teacher Awards in the country. The following is an excerpt from the announcement: ‘CLASS commends you on being an excellent role model for other Chinese teachers in the field. We hope you will continue to commit yourself in supporting and carrying out the CLASS mission for the advancement of teaching and learning Chinese in K-12 schools.’ Lauren’s hard-work and dedication to the Chinese program make her well-deserving of this award.”
  • West Hartford resident Rick Marzi, who can often be seen strolling through the Center or the reservoir with his Bernese Mountain Dog, Bruce, has turned his love of walking his dog into a new business. Marzi, a 13-year resident, has launched Good Dog! – a family-owned dog walking and dog sitting service. According to his website, Marzi is certified in dog walking with the International Association of Professional Career College and certified in Pet First Aid with the American Red Cross – and also believes that “every dog is a GOOD DOG!” For more information, call 860-597-1492 or visit Good Dog! at www.gooddogwh.com.
  • New Country Motors in Hartford (One Weston St.) is hosting a Rock Away FUNraiser for West Hartford-based Rons Run for the Roses on Friday, Nov. 10, from 6-9 p.m. The event will feature the acoustic sounds of Rick Ortiz. November is Pancreatic Cancer awareness month. Click here to make a donation, and some look forward to food, drink, and great music – and of course the chance to check out a few nice cars, too.
  • Philip David Jewelers (968 Farmington Ave.) will be holding a “Celebrating Women in Business” networking event on Thursday, Nov. 9, from 6-8 p.m. Owner Pamela Rosin said in an email, “I have been in business a long time and I know how much vision, determination, and courage it takes to be a woman in business today. Looking back on 40 years, I marvel that we are still here! After all these years … I feel good about our accomplishments and want to help other women build on their dreams.” The networking event is open to women from all types of businesses, and is free of charge. Wine, cider, and snacks will be served, and a 15 percent discount on any purchases made that night will be offered.

    Christopher Bowen. Submitted photo

  • Congratulations to West Hartford resident Christopher Bowen, an attorney at Kahan, Kerensky & Capossela in Vernon, who has been recognized by Super Lawyers as a Rising Star in Connecticut for the second consecutive year. According to a news release, this honor is “reserved for those lawyers who exhibit excellence in practice” and is earned by only 2.5 percent of attorneys in the state. Bowen, who practices in the Litigation Department and represents clients in Connecticut’s state and federal courts, administrative forums, and in arbitration matters. He is also a member of the Connecticut Bar Association House of Delegates.
  • Finally, ICYMI, congrats to former ESPN anchor and PR business owner Michelle Bonner, who has been named marketing director of the Mandell JCC! Click here for more details.

Remember, if you have any business news to share, add it in the comments section below or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].

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