March 2023 News

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Walk for Hands On Hartford!

Did you know that Hands On Hartford has a food pantry that serves over 650 families every month – and that we are the only halal friendly pantry in the area? 

One of our pantry visitors, Sania, works nearby and appreciates that she can stop here on her way home from work. She and her family (five kids between the ages of 1 and 12, along with her mother) keep a halal diet and it’s such a help to her that we’re able to provide halal meat and that our other pantry staples are labeled if they are not halal – it makes her visit quicker and she can get home faster. Without this support, she would not be able to cover the cost of transportation to her job – or keep up with rent and utilities. That’s what we’re here for – but only with your support!

Imagine a sunny day in May, gathering together with friends and family – and Hands On Hartford. Join us on Saturday May 20 for this year’s CT Foodshare Walk Against Hunger. We are looking for folks to sign up for the walk, ask for donations of any size from your friends, family and co-workers, and come together in a joint effort to fight hunger and food insecurity in our community. The funds we raise in the walk will support folks who visit our pantry like Sania – and so many more. You can register HERE and click on "Join Team" or "Make a Donation". If you're joining the team please be sure to select Hands On Hartford as your benefiting partner.

Celebrating Women's History Month

We celebrated Women's History Month in a variety of ways here at Hands On Hartford, one of which was, courtesy of our DEI Committee, displaying a detailed bulletin board honoring some of the world's most inspiring and influential women leaders.

Our DEI Committee also hosted a Women's Celebration event with HOH staff and finally, in Gather55, we showcased weekly movies themed around women to educate, entertain and inspire. Movies that were big hits with our staff and guests were:

  • "Becoming"
  • "Who I Am: Toni Morrison"
  • "The Woman King"
  • "What Happened to Miss Simone"

Here you can see some of the women on the team at Hands On Hartford (working on making history in their own way).

Happy Ramadan!

To our Muslim friends who observe: Ramadan Mubarak!

The folks over at Sanctuary Kitchen at CitySeed in New Haven articulately describe Ramadan as "The ninth month of the Islamic (lunar) calendar, and the one in which observers believe the Qur’an was revealed. Muslims are directed in the Qur’an to fast that month. During the fast, which lasts from before first light to sundown, one may not have any food or drink, and certain behaviors are restricted. There are also additional nighttime ritual-prayers called taraaweeh, usually performed congregationally at the mosque or at home. The month is a time of discipline, heightened spiritual awareness, focused devotions, and increased charity."

Many blessings for a month of spiritual-deepening.

PS. We are honored to offer the only Halal pantry in the Greater Hartford area. Please help us spread the word to your Muslim friends, neighbors and coworkers.

Faith In Action

What a joy it was to celebrate with Emanuel Lutheran Church, one of our founding congregations and a partner for 54+ years! The church received a bequest from a long time congregant, Barbara Erskine, and decided to provide a three-year grant to support Hands On Hartford, involving $160,000 of support for the Gather55 initiative. The church's and Barbara's commitment to building community, good food for all, gracious hospitality and special care for seniors are shared by Hands On Hartford and Gather55 and it's just perfect to see this shared commitment put into action.

Virtual Open House: Housing Insecurity and Homelessness Prevention

If you missed the March 29 Virtual Open House, you can see a recording of the Zoom session HERE.

(If you need a passcode to view it, it's .jJn8QHJ )

If you have any questions about the session, just contact Kate at

Gather55 Dinner Update: We Welcome this Dynamic Duo!

We have double the delight starting Wednesday, April 5 with not one, but TWO notable local guest chefs who will be adding some delectable dishes to our Gather55 dinner menu!

We are honored to welcome Executive Chef, Ashley Flagg and Executive Pastry Chef, Kristin Eddy, both of Millwrights Restaurant, who are both thrilled to contribute their talents for a great cause. And bonus news - select menu items by Chef Tyler Anderson, Chef Prasad Chirnomula, Chef Billy Grant, Chef Emily Mingrone, and Chef Xavier Santiago dishes are also still available on our April menu, so hurry in. You can make reservations on Open Table or through the Gather55 website,

Ashley Flagg is a Connecticut Native who gained a love of food through her large family of competitive cooks. In addition to working for Tyler Anderson for years, she has trained with a number of great chefs including Billy Grant, Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer. Ashley takes advantage of the existing relationships Millwright’s has with many local farms and purveyors and lets the seasons guide the menu. She uses these high quality products to build a menu that’s inspired by New England ingredients but showcases Global flavors and cooking techniques. Ashley enjoys cooking simple, well-balanced food that showcases what the farms and New England has to offer.

A former student of the Culinary Institute of America, Kristin Eddy is presently the Executive Pastry Chef of Millwright’s Restaurant & Tavern. Eddy uses her sharp attention to detail and refined creativity to develop, manage, and oversee the pastry program. The outcome is a uniquely delicious dessert constructed with the freshest of ingredients. Prior to her role in Anderson’s restaurants, Eddy distinguished her skills in elite New York City kitchens – including Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro and Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern. She also received the 2017 Rising Star of the Year award by the Connecticut Restaurant Association. Eddy hopes to continue to build off that success while utilizing the products of local farms and small businesses as staples in each dessert.

Join us for our Easter Community Meal!

Gathering More Support!

Don't forget our friends at Delamar West Hartford, in partnership with Artisan West Hartford, are hosting a Chef’s Tasting Dinner at Artisan Restaurant on Thurs., April 20 at 6PM.

Proceeds of this exclusive tasting dinner will benefit Hands On Hartford and our mission of strengthening the community in Hartford by responding faithfully to people in need, through programs that change lives and renew human possibility.

To learn more and purchase tickets: CLICK HERE!

Our friends and non-profit neighbors, The RiseUP Group/RiseUP for Arts, are hosting an epic immersive art event called "ART maniFESTation: Exploring the Power of Public Art, Creativity, and Culture" on Saturday, May 13, 2023 from 12pm-11pm at both 50 Bartholomew Ave (across the street) and right here at 55 Bartholomew Ave.

Discover the works of your favorite artists, craftspeople, and artisans as they showcase their talents and sell their pieces at the ART Festival. The festival also features a jam-packed schedule of family-friendly activities and musical performances from some of CT's top talent.

Tickets are also available for a "Celebrity Chef Dinner" at Gather55 that evening.

For more info or to purchase tickets for the Celebrity Chef Dinner, click HERE.

(Then click "Register for Event" and then click "Get Tickets")

Look Who Has Their hands on Hartford!

Another great Faces of Homelessness speaking event, this time with Ms. Tomasino and the Student Action Team at CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering Elementary School in Rocky Hill. Our speaker Joe shared his story and had an engaging conversation with this group of 4th and 5th graders. As you can see, they have also been collecting new warm socks and they donated some “no-sew” fleece blankets for our Homeless Outreach team. It’s so wonderful to see young people learning about these challenges and putting their caring into action too.

Looks like the Audit team at Aetna CVS Health had a blast sorting and packing up 200 backpacks for the backpack nutrition program - including donating all of the food that will go out to kids for the weekends! We are so grateful for this support and their partnership in fighting food insecurity in our community. Go team go!

Now that's what we call multi-tasking!

As we underwent some software upgrades, we decided it was about time we gave a proper shout-out to our IT support team, I.T. Resources LLC in East Hartford ( We are ever-so-grateful for their ongoing IT support, and always impressed by their speed-of-response, dependability, and trouble-shooting. Thank you to the I.T. Resources team. You are all such an important part of our HOH family.

Hands On Hartford is Hiring!

Hands On Hartford staff are dedicated, caring, and hardworking people who like to have fun while making a difference in our community. With great benefits, staff recognition and support, we value teamwork, compassion and community. 

Check out these open positions and help us spread the word:

Find out more about these positions and how to apply HERE.

We remember...

At Hands On Hartford's annual Memorial Service, the extended Hands On Hartford family gathered together to remember those we have lost in a service led by Rev. Donna K. Manocchio, along with the powerful musical voice of Wayne Dixon.

About Hands On Hartford

Hands On Hartford, in partnership with others, strengthens community in Hartford by responding faithfully to people in need through programs that change lives and renew human possibility.

We are committed to increasing food security and nutrition, improving health and providing housing while we engage volunteers and connect communities.

How Can I Help?

Make a donation! You will be part of a network of donors, volunteers and staff who work together to provide food, housing and related services for families who are struggling to make ends meet. To make a financial donation, visit our website at and click “Make a Donation Now,” or mail your check to Hands On Hartford, 55 Bartholomew Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106.

Or contact Kate Shafer at for more in-kind donation ideas.

Request a matching donation from your employer! Many employers will match all or part of your donation - a great way to double your impact.

Leave a legacy. Ensure your long term impact on this community by including us in your estate plan, making qualified charitable distributions from your IRA, gifts of appreciated stock, or include us as a contingent beneficiary of your life insurance. Contact Executive Director Barbara Shaw to explore planned giving ideas and to join our Legacy Society. or 860- 706-1502.

We are grateful for our community and the love, caring, compassion and support we see every day.

On Hartford, a Points of Light affiliate

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