Connecticut Teenager Spearheads Relocation of Bat Colony

Sometimes, small acts of kindness can make a huge difference. Nathan Lieske, an aspiring Eagle Scout from Watertown, CT, certainly ascribes to this philosophy, as earlier this month, he successfully launched an initiative to relocate a colony of bats to permanent homes after noticing that they were being displaced from their current residence in a local park’s bathhouses.

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Thanks to Nathan Lieske, Watertown bats now have a permanent place to live.

Despite his young age, Lieske, 15, clearly recognizes that charity can be given to animals, as well as humans. This is what spurned him to recruit his family and a group of 22 of his fellow Boy Scouts to assemble the bats’ new homes, which are essentially boxes similar to birdhouses. And instead of choosing the location of the bat boxes himself, Lieske has also demonstrated that he already understands the value of deferring to the experts, as he has donated the assembled boxes to Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). Because bats hibernate during the winter, DEEP is installing the boxes in the park near the bathhouses now, with the hope that the bats will become familiarized with the boxes this fall and hopefully take up residences inside them in the spring, when they’ve finished hibernating for the year.

Lieske estimates that the project took about 115 hours to complete, and his effort to improve the lives of the bats in his hometown have not gone unnoticed by local media or DEEP, which has expressed gratitude to Lieske for undertaking this project out of the goodness of his heart. Because they eat millions of night-flying insects per year, thereby controlling the outbreak of diseases these insects carry, bats provide what DEEP describes as “a tremendous ecological service” to humans, making Lieske’s initiative that much more important to the state of Connecticut and proving that compassion for animals extends to compassion for humans, as well.

For his hard work, Lieske has officially earned the rank of Eagle, which is the highest rank a Boy Scout can hold and normally only achieved by Scouts who are 17 years old and above. On behalf of both the human and the animal residents of Connecticut, a big thank you goes out to Nathan Lieske and his fellow Scouts for making our state a better place to live.

How CT Residents Can Help Victims of Louisiana Floods

When Hurricane Sandy struck New England in 2012, the storm caused so much widespread damage to the state of Connecticut that we were granted emergency assistance from the Federal government in the form of hundreds of National Guardsmen who came to our state to help us in our time of need. Any Connecticut resident can remember the havoc wrought by Sandy four years ago; all of our roads were closed, a huge amount of property was destroyed, and both mandatory and partial evacuations took place across the state of Connecticut. It was a dark time for our state, and some parts of Connecticut have still not fully recovered, years later, much like the state of Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

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Louisiana flood victims are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

Unfortunately, recent rainfall and subsequent historic flooding in Louisiana have decimated the state for a second time, necessitating emergency rescue and widespread evacuations of residents across the state who have lost their homes and belongings to Mother Nature once again. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to the state of emergency that Louisiana is in right now, but in light of the fact that we know what it’s like to be hit by a terribly destructive storm, Connecticut residents should consider contributing to charities that are currently on the ground in Louisiana offering support to those in need.

The American Red Cross in Louisiana, in particular, has mobilized to offer practical assistance in the form of providing food and shelter to those in need of these basic resources. You can donate directly to the Red Cross by going to their website at this link and choosing to send your money to the cause named “Louisiana Floods.” If you’d like to donate from your phone, simply text ‘LAFLOODS’ to the Red Cross at 90999 to donate $10 to their efforts.

If you’d like to physically volunteer down in Louisiana, a worthwhile organization to work with is Operation Blessing International, which has dispatched volunteers to help clean up Louisiana and recover and feed victims of the floods who have not yet received the aid they so desperately need right now.

Lastly, there are hundreds of animal shelters in Louisiana that are partially or completely underwater, which has caused the displacement of thousands of animals who need your help, as well. Visit at this link to see a partial list of animal shelters who desperately need donations of money and supplies to help the furry victims of these record-breaking floods – every little bit helps.

Hartford Foundation to Offer Aid to Nonprofits Affected by State Budget Cuts

As you likely already know, Connecticut is in the midst of a state budget crisis. As a result of the major budget cuts that have been made in its fallout, many nonprofits in this state are now struggling to stay afloat without the financial lifeline that has enabled them to keep their heads above water in the past. In a true embodiment of the Connecticut way, however, The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has stepped forward to offer an additional $1,000,000 to the nonprofits they work with in order to provide a vital source of funding to nonprofits whose missions help untold residents of Connecticut each and every day.

This decision came after the foundation conducted a four-day survey of their 330 active nonprofit grantees to find out how severely state budget cuts had impacted their organizations. The results of this survey were nothing short of heartbreaking; 23% of their grantees responded to it, and many of them reported losses of a whopping $50,000 to $200,000 in funding, resulting in a full 74% of those organizations stating that they would have to either reduce their services as a result or shut their doors entirely. And while 83% reported that they’d be focusing heavily on fundraising efforts to make ends meet, the Foundation recognized immediately that something had to give if these nonprofits were to continue providing necessary services and outreach here in Connecticut.

So, then, according to Judy Rozie-Battle, the Foundation’s senior vice president for community investments, the foundation will be pulling an extra million dollars from its own general grant making budget to bolster these organizations’ fundraising efforts. To determine the order and amount in which grantees get extra funding, the Foundation will begin by bucketing their nonprofit grantees based on mission. The first line of support will be donated to those organizations that offer critical assistance to Connecticut’s underserved in the form of housing and food. Once those organizations have been accounted for, mental health services, education, the arts and economic development will be next on the agenda. Unfortunately, though, it looks like the money will not stretch far enough to also administer financial aid to drug abuse programs and juvenile justice programs, two areas that offer irreplaceable resources to those who very much need help. This is especially concerning in light of the fact that we are in the middle of a national opioid crisis, and cutting substance abuse treatment programs will undoubtedly lead to more addiction and less support for those who are looking to kick this life-destroying habit.

The mere fact that The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has made this pledge speaks volumes about the strength of the Connecticut community. All Connecticut residents should consider donating to nonprofits in our state who need our help now more than ever; every little bit counts.

Connecticut Hospice House To Be Built With The Help of Fundraising

There can never be enough hospice care in this country, and the Center for Hospice Care will soon be building another facility. The center announced a fundraising campaign that will build a 12-room hospice care facility in Eastern Connecticut called Hospice House.

The project will break ground later this year, and will be completed and occupied in late 2017. This $7.5 million project will be built next door to the Dunham Street facility of the Center for Hospice Care of Southeastern Connecticut. The facility be created on 7.5 acres of land that have been given to the nonprofit by the St. Peter and Paul Church.

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Connecticut Hospice House will be built with the help of fundraising efforts.

The community was missing a center like this, so this project will be an promising way to make a genuine change. Many people have been waiting for a hospice facility like this for years, as in Eastern Connecticut, the only freestanding hospice care facilities are currently in Danbury and Branford. This means that hospice patients and visiting family members often have to make long trips to get to these facility. Hospice House is a great step in working to make it easier for families to see their loved ones in Eastern Connecticut. 

The steering committee has raised $5.5 million through behind-the-scenes fundraising, and they still have $2 million more to go. The team won’t begin building the facility until all of the money is available.

Some of the funds already pledged include $2 million in state bond funding. This funding is secured through the efforts of local legislators like State Senators Cathy Osten (D-Sprague), and Paul Formica (R-East Lyme). Also included and Representatives Kevin Ryan (D-Montville), Kathleen McCarty (R-Waterford), and John Scott (R-Groton).

About $6 million will be spent on construction, and $1.5 million will be dedicated to five-year start-up costs. Large donations in the form of pledges can be made to help pay these costs, and the donations can be made over a period of five years. Because the center is relying on these donations, the center will use a bridge loan mortgage during the time period while pledges are being redeemed. Through a five year start-up period, the center will pay down interest on the mortgage while simultaneously working to reach full capacity in terms of patients. Hospice House will serve over 800 patients annually with all twelve of its suites in service.

One of the ways that the steering committee intends to raise funds is by offering naming rights to several parts of the completed building. Norwich Mayor Deb Hinchey is thrilled to see this project take place. Hinchey’s father died in hospice, and she believes hospice is a crucial place to help people feel comfortable when death cannot occur at home.

The facility will have the feel of a home rather than a hospital or nursing home. It will have a bright and spacious living room in its center, a peaceful chapel, a playroom for visiting children, cozy library and a dining area. Hospice House is just the facility that this community needed.

Gillespie Estate Forms $100 Million Trust for CT Nonprofits

Big news for Connecticut nonprofits: the estate of Stamford residents Kingsley Gillespie and his son, Kenyon Gillespie, announced on April 1st of this year that they have founded a charitable trust worth $100 million that will be distributed among a number of non-profit organizations in the region. This initiative is in keeping with a history of the Gillespies investing time and money into their community; Kingsley was the publisher of two Connecticut newspapers, The Advocate and Greenwich Times, as well as the owner of a Stamford radio station, WSTC-AM. He was also a founding trustee and the VP of the Stamford Hospital Foundation. His son, Kenyon, worked as a private investor, managing the inheritance he received from his father with the express intention of offering financial support to the charities his father was passionate about, until his death in March of this year. So, then, it’s only fitting that the Gillespies’ legacy will continue to be one of giving back.

The first gift made on behalf of the Gillespie trust was a truly impressive donation to Stamford Hospital in the amount of $50 million – the largest single donation the hospital has received in its 120 years of existence. This money will surely go to great use, as Stamford Hospital has always been, and continues to be, an institution that embraces innovation at every possible turn. For example, the fact that Stamford Hospital is the only healthcare provider in Connecticut to have implemented the EndoChoice Full Spectrum Endoscopy System, or FUSE, a new colonoscopy system that has three cameras, instead of the usual one. This system is a vast improvement on the systems of the past, as tripling the number of cameras allows doctors to view a 330 degree image, as opposed to the traditional 170 degrees, thereby making it easier to identify problems that would likely have gone undetected in the past. The fact that Stamford Hospital is such an early adopter of this exciting new technology speaks volumes about the institution’s dedication to innovation, making it a worthy recipient of the Gillespies’ generous gift.

Other Connecticut-based nonprofit organizations that have been named as beneficiaries of the Gillespie trust include The Rotary Club of Stamford and The First Presbyterian Church of Stamford, both of which will receive 10 percent of the income earned by the trust on an annual basis.


With New Business Campus, Tech Comes to New Haven

A large and fascinating change is being made to New Haven’s architectural landscape, with a former transit station about to get a glamorous makeover. The New Haven Board of Alders has a plan to transform the station into a new tech-business campus. The decision was made on the night of Monday March 7th, 2016, when the New Haven Board of Alders voted in approval of a development and land disposition agreement. The agreement proposed the disposal of the former transit property, which is located at 470 James Street, to a locally based partnership. This partnership is made up of Eric O’Brien, of Urbane of New Haven LLC, and of David Salinas, of Digital Surgeons.

But handing the property over to this partnership is just the beginning of this lavish plan. Salinas and O’Brien intend to redevelop the land into a business campus. The design will have a focus on technology companies. This new structure and its focus means a good deal for the job market in the area.

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With the construction of a business campus, New Haven is hoping to become a tech hub.

At the moment, the 6.5-acre property is vacant due to the fact that it is owned by the state. This vacant property is also tax exempt. Once the site is developed, it is expected to result in new real and personal property taxes. The developer will work alongside New Haven Works in order to make sure that local residents are prioritized in the hiring process.

The property currently takes up 195,000 square feet and the specifics have already been decided. 100,000 square feet will be kept and restored and the remaining 95,000 square feet will be demolished for remediation. The developers will also add 5,000 square feet of new construction. In order to clean up the site, the state of Connecticut has granted $5.5 million in remediation money.

Mayor Toni Harp strongly advocates for the creation of economic opportunities for residents, and he works to put city land back on the tax roles. Harp believes that the redevelopment of the transit station will largely carry out this mission. It is projected to retain around 100 jobs and to allow businesses to hire around 200 to 300 new jobs and various skill levels.

Connecticut Senate President Martin Looney feels strongly that bringing technology jobs to the New Haven area will have extremely positive effects, as he believes that Connecticut’s economic competitiveness is fueled by innovation. In addition, the redevelopment of the site will lead to the maintenance and growth of City businesses that already exist, while also drawing new promising enterprises to the area. Looney also expressed joy with regard to developer’s commitment to working with the City to help build a tech career ladder in New Haven. Overall, this redevelopment is likely to make a big impact on New Haven’s community by providing careers.

Malloy Says that CT has Eliminated Veteran Homelessness

There is no denying the fact that our veterans have been underserved and, in many situations, completely abandoned by the government that so willingly sent them off to war. When the soldiers who survive return home, they are frequently returning with shattered bodies and minds that require medical, psychiatric, and emotional support. The government hasn’t provided this and because of it, these veterans frequently run into problems when it comes to reintegrating into society, finding jobs, and finding housing. Add to this that their medical and psychiatric needs are rarely met, and it’s no surprise that a large number, if the the majority, of homeless people in the country are veterans of one of America’s many overseas wars. However, there is good news.

Today, Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy officially announced that there are no more homeless veterans in the state. That’s right, Connecticut is now home to a fully housed veteran population, the first step on reintegration and helping these brave men and women get the support they need and deserve. While there are more issues facing homeless populations in Connecticut, having stable housing and a roof over their heads is a major step in helping them. According to Malloy, the state reached this goal on February 17th and it’s heavily due to the work of the Connecticut Housing department which didn’t exist before he took office.

The effort to home every homeless veteran began in 2014. According to advocates and research, there were 500 homeless veterans in the state who needed help. With over $1 billion earmarked for the building of housing and outreach programs, the state managed to hit this goal in one year. While this doesn’t mean that Connecticut will never have another homeless veteran, it does mean that all of the infrastructure to reach out and quickly help is in place and proven to be effective. Hopefully any other homeless veterans will be quickly given housing and support. With Connecticut being the second state in the country to solve veteran homelessness (Virginia was the first), hopefully other states take notice of how it happened and begin to implement programs like this too.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

3 $1 Million Powerball Tickets Sold in Connecticut

This past week, the news has been literally abuzz with the knowledge that the power ball lottery reached a prize of $1.3 BILLION after no one won during the previous drawing. Needless to say, this is the highest prize any lotto in the United States (if not the world) has ever reached and it’s very likely that it will never get that high again. As was expected, Americans across the country bought power ball tickets in bulk, all hoping to make history and become wealthier than their wildest dreams. While no one in Connecticut won the grand prize, a number of people did become much wealthier.lottery

When the drawing of the power ball was over, three people in Connecticut won $1 million. Along with those lucky 3, 11 other people won prizes over $50,000, with some getting up to $100,000. While these obviously aren’t as big a prize as the main power ball drawing, these numbers are nothing to scoff at and will change the lives of every person who ended up winning. The three $1 million tickets shared the winning numbers of the power ball grand winner (8-27-34-4-19) but didn’t have the power ball number of ten that would’ve brought in the big pot. According to the Connecticut lottery, these tickets were drawn in Hartford County, New London County and Fairfield County.

Connecticut ended up having a total of 350,629 winning tickets sold, with the prizes ranging anywhere from $4 to $200. This is a huge amount of tickets and while many people walked away disappointed, there is a silver lining. Ticket sales topped out at $50.1 million, meaning that about $21.4 million went into the state’s General Fund. The General Fund supports social services across the state that are used by all citizens in the state including healthcare, education, public safety, and more. While that leaves a lot of money not going to public services, it’s important to realize that the money that is going to it will be of great use to those in need.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.