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Monday, September 23, 2013


Food Pantry recipients line up for the 11:00am opening last Wednesday
Some things just seem to defy any logical explanation in Hartford, this is one of them.

The Grace Seventh Day Adventist Church  is situated amongst some of Hartford's most expensive homes in the elite West End. It has been there since the 1940's operating as a church, nestled back from the Street on Prospect Avenue. Most people probably have never paid it any attention as they drive by gated homes  close to Elizabeth Park and the Governor's residence. The building is well kept , the landscaping well maintained.

Apparently at least one part of the Church ministry  though is  not a good fit with the gated homes.

The Segarra/Ortiz gated residence , above

One of the gated homes is owned by the husband of Hartford's Mayor, Charlie Ortiz and sits about 2 blocks from the Grace Food Pantry. The gated residence is also the home of Mayor Segarra. Other than traffic concerns, I am unsure what the actual complaints regarding the Pantry are. I went to the Pantry last Wednesday to observe the operation first hand.

The Pantry attracted roughly 150 people, some arriving by car, some walking, many took the bus to the closest bus stop and walked the final distance.

The alleged parking congestion that is disrupting the area

The parking was orderly on the east side of the street and traffic was monitored closely by volunteers with the Church. According to volunteers working at the Pantry, their Saturday services have more cars parked along the street than the Pantry does. The clientele was somewhat interesting to me. It was a mix of young and old, all races and it pointed out to me the number of people having a difficult time making ends meet in our City and around the region

 I have seen events at the Rose Gardens at Elizabeth Park and events at the Governor's residence, a block up the street cause more traffic problems

I spoke with quite a few of the people waiting in line. The stories of how they ended up there ran the full spectrum of explanations. There was the 70 year old woman whose husband had apparently been killed in an accident with a drunk driver last year. She now was finding it difficult to make ends meet without him and had just heard about the Pantry due to news coverage of the shutdown efforts.

There was a middle aged diabetic man who showed up walking with two canes to stand up. He had just had surgery on both feet to remove infections caused by his diabetes and needed the assistance of the pantry to be able to put food on his table.

There was a grandmother who stood in line to put some extra food on the table for her grandchildren. There were two other elderly women who walked the distance from their north end homes to get their food.

As I stood there watching people show up and their joy as they left with their bags or boxes or grocery carts stocked with food for the week I just kept thinking " but for the grace of God" that could be anyone of us. It could be anyone of those people living behind the wrought iron gated homes. It could be anyone of us that  gets injured  in an accident or is unable to work, It could be anyone of us that loses a job, It could be anyone of us  that  suffers a downturn in the stock market and sees their lifestyle change quickly.

Ortiz, Segarra's husband, told a recent meeting of City Officials that on one Wednesday he  observed food pantry traffic impeding an ambulance and a  a person in a wheelchair unable to use the sidewalk.  You can read more on this issue here

The other interesting piece was that any stereotypes you might have would quickly go out the window when you see the widespread need for assistance. There were all races, young and old, mothers with children, middle aged men, all just looking for a little help from a church that knows what it means to be a good neighbor.

No one was turned away, no one was asked where they live or how much they make. And everyone left with a smile that their burden to survive was lightened just a little bit by Brother Paul and the other volunteers. at Grace Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Can anyone explain to me how ministering to the needy is a bad thing. I would think that is exactly what a church's ministry is all about and definitely comes under their zoning use as a Church.

In one of the poorest cities in the country, with a Mayor that claims he was forced to live on the streets and was homeless himself, it just seems odd to me that any organization or individual  could possibly fight a food pantry that seems to have very little impact on the neighborhood in which it resides, other than feeding those in need once a week


P-CARD PEDRO said...

Kevin ,

do you really think our champagne swilling caviar eating Mayor has any regard for those people walking by his home to get their food for the week. This is a classic case of Not in my Back Yard syndrome. Segarra has lost touch with what the majority of the people face in this City on a regular basis

Shame on him and his elitist Husband

Anonymous said...

Shame on them ! This also looks like a way for them to distract from what is really going on with the Mayor and his so-called cronies stealing from the tax payers and trying to run the City into the ground ! I say get rid of the Mayor, and the rest of his buddies, including SKB...and replace them with real honest people that want to help the City and not use the City.

Anonymous said...

Councilman Cruz and Council members, with your constant lack of support of the PD and constant bashing, if you think for one second were actually going to attempt to pull over ATV's or dirt bikes on city streets, you must be crazy. You give the PD no support whatsoever, yah, right, try to pull one over, so they take off and crash, and then you want to go after the PD and officer for trying to pull over an ATV. Maybe try supporting your officers before asking for any enforcement efforts. As for me, I'll turn my head, and I'll urge all other officers to do the same. You get nothing from us until you start supporting us.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Kevin ,you gotta admit ...there's a fine line between ministering to the needy and "GREEDY". Dont ask ,dont tell, is NOT a good motivating tool for lighting a fire under people's ass's to go out and make it out on their own. (Please excuse the REAL cases of need you mentioned from my comment) As obesity,heart disease and diabetes is rapidly rising in our inner cities,it leads me to believe that we are making it to easy to fail by providing too much to too many that dont need it. GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES!

Anonymous said...

Any officer who pursues an ATV, motor scooter, moped, dirt bike or motorcycle should be immediately put on foot patrol. Its unsafe for the public, the officer and lastly the character riding the item.

Any officer or member of the police department who trusts a politician needs their head examined. I remember when Chief Croughwell was a great guy one day but the minute Henry Langley passed away (and so did his political cover) the local pols were all lashing out at him like he was a bum. That's what you get for 30 years of service and whatever anyone thinks of Father Joe he served his time, paid for the stress of the job with his health and saved a lot of officers with a good reasoned approach to discipline. A lot of cops with pensions owe that to him.

Someone should dig up George Athanson and put him back in office because he was the last politician and even in the state he is in now would do better than the current office holder.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Pedro might have the same views of his husband. I know Pedro as a Social Worker and how he was so effective in helping people in his private practice as an attorney because he also had a degree in Social Work, which he applied to solve his cases and help people to turn their lives around. He won't turn people in need away. I just hope he is the same person I once met as he is a great guy. He was a humble and friendly guy even when he was successful. In my opinion he is being taken advantage of and people he trust aren't good friends. He is not a politician as for that he might need to be a bad guy and I don't think he is capable of turn that way. He might be guilty of allowing others do their way but not turning people in need away. That is not Pedro.

Anonymous said...

Where is that Pedro lives in Hartford? ?


Prospect Avenue, a block and a half from the FoodPantry

Anonymous said...

Ananymous 9:39, you have it backwards. Father Joe was Langley (the welfare fraud) water boy and did what ever he told him to do. It was Father Joe who hired friends and family as officers when told to do so by Henry "Bozo the Clown". These questionable hires couldn't and in some cases didn't even pass the psychological exams and Father Joe put guns in their hands legally. He sold his soul, so no wonder all the other pols came running to him for favors once Langley met his maker. We owe the politicizing of the HPD to Croughwell. Please don't insult the men and women in blue by canonizing him.

Food for thought said...

Shame on you Charlie Ortiz, how dare you to side with the WECA to shut down the Church's pantry. These are people whom are happy to get what ever is left over to help put food on their table and not go to sleep hungry.

It's a shame that now that you are well off and live behind the black gates. You act like you are the King of Rome. Well you know what these people don't live in gated homes in a nice area. But that doesn't mean that it is against the law to walk into your neighborhood, just to get a bag of food. They are the few that can not feast on lamb chops and caviar and drink champagne like you, the Mayor and his staff. These people come from many different walk of life and they walk miles just to get a bag of free food so that they can have a decent meal.

I am a Social Worker and have been to many of these peoples homes and have seen first hands, where there have been nothing in their refrigerator but a gallon of water and a loaf of stale bread. Instead of making an issue, why don't you try trading place with one of them for a day; cause I don't think that you will make it for a week.

Second why don't you have the West End Civic Ass.. volunteer their time for a an hour. Instead of acting as a pep leader.

This world will be in a much better place if we would have a little more compassion for those who have less.

And, last all that money that the City staff are spending unnecessary could definitely help feed at least 150 of these folks.


Anonymous 4:34PM,

I didn't post your comment the first time and I am not going to post it this time either. The sexual preference of those involved has nothing to do with this

Anonymous said...

If this was about a food pantry in the north end of hartford the mayor husband would try to shut it down, since its in a majority white neighborhood and those with money its only reason for them to shut it down. again not in the rich hood