Today Magazine • November 2020

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Covering the Heart of the Farmington Valley

SAGES OF ALL AGES For All Ages: Connecting Generations To Alleviate Isolation



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Today Magazine • Covering the Heart of the Farmington Valley


A unique nonprofit, For All Ages, seeks to combat loneliness and isolation by bringing generations together via constructive collaboration. BUSINESS BEAT

6 — Investing In Community

A wealth-advisory firm extends its investment mantra beyond the stock market — and into the community. HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS

10 — Cry Freedom

Farmington has 13 sites on the Connecticut Freedom Trail, outdone only by Hartford and New Haven.

A Gumption For Gratitude

GRATITUDE IS SOMETIMES EASY — such as after a scrumptious holiday meal. At other times, gratitude can be difficult — such as when a COVID shutdown impacts employment. Yet whether easy or difficult, the relationship gurus affirm that gratitude and a close companion, forgiveness, are essential virtues for families, marriages and friendships to survive and thrive. Our November cover story spotlights a novel nonprofit that seeks to generate abundant reasons for gratitude — For All Ages is connecting generations to cultivate friendship and combat isolation. History tells us the Pilgrims committed to a similar objective at the inaugural Thanksgiving with their Native American neighbors, thanking God and celebrating their community. Let’s honor this legacy by doing our best to pursue the discipline and privilege of gratitude, across cultural and generational lines, this Thanksgiving and beyond. By the way — a hearty thank-you to Today Magazine’s advertisers, who see the value of our Valley-best circulation and rates, and to all those who offer commendations and recommendations for our work. + • Two other Valley magazines • Print Circulation — less than 20,000 • Today Magazine • Print Circulation — 42,000+ • Ad Rates — about the same


12 — ‘Crutchwalker’ Takes A Hike

Lifelong amputee Dana Albrycht conquered eight peaks on his benefit hike for the disability community. NOTEWORTHY NONPROFITS

13 — Unsung Healthcare Heroes

Nurses from the Farmington Valley VNA have been caring for people at home for 100-plus years.


Bruce Deckert — Publisher + Editor-in-Chief 860-988-1910 • Today Magazine — > Digital Edition Facebook — @TodayMagazineCT • LinkedIn— Today Magazine Advertising — Contact the Publisher Editorial Associate — Kayla Tyson Contributing Photographer — Wendy Rosenberg • 860-305-1655 Today Magazine Online — Five Towns, One Aim — Exceptional Community Journalism


THANK YOU AGAIN for the wonderful cover story on my father, Olivin “Ollie” Michaud, in the August issue on World War II heroes. The response I received was overwhelming! I heard from dozens of friends and acquaintances in the area who knew my Dad — I hadn’t heard from some of them in 10 years or more. It really demonstrates the reach of Today Magazine and the quality of your article about my Dad. I also loved the September issue. I know the family of Farmington police chief Paul Melanson and appreciated your feature on him. Great articles in general! Cynthia Crouch • Simsbury I HAVE BEEN ENJOYING this wonderful publication. The selection and content of the articles are uplifting and informative. I especially enjoy the wildlife photography, and even though I can’t keep them all, I usually end up saving one to gaze at later. Keep up the great work. Thank you. Patricia LeBouthillier • Unionville


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CONGRATULATIONS on Today Magazine’s SPJ First Place finish for local reporting on volunteer fire/EMS departments. I know how important and competitive awards for journalism are. We were #CantonPROUD to be part of this series that honored local department chiefs and highlighted the commitment and sacrifice of their volunteer firefighters, EMTs and fire police crews. Well done and stay safe. Sylvia Cancela • PR Officer Canton Volunteer Fire & EMS Dept. THANKS for the wonderful stories you share each month with so many. They warm a lot of hearts and souls and connect dots. Brigitte Soucy • Avon WE LOVE the magazine in our house. I’m glad you mentioned the MLK Jr. story during Avon Library’s Author Panel — it was one of my favorites. Beth Vrabel • Canton • TODAY MAGAZINE – – NOVEMBER 2020


SAGES FOR ALL AGES Novel nonprofit For All Ages brings sages, youth together COVER STORY + NOTEWORTHY NONPROFITS For All Ages

Based in Simsbury — Serving Greater Hartford Deb Bibbins — Founder & CEO 860-899-8867 Special to Today Magazine

SAGES OF ALL AGES have been meeting for a year-plus through a novel nonprofit. Deb Bibbins of Simsbury founded For All Ages “with a vision to change the aging narrative and promote kindness across generations by implementing impactful programs that improve the health and well-being of people of all ages,” per the For All Ages website. She holds an MBA from UMass and a law degree with honors from UConn. After an accomplished career in the insurance industry, Deb served a number of nonprofits before establishing For All Ages last year. She is a certified Dementia Friend and a member of UConn’s Aging Research Interest Group. This Q&A has been answered by Deb Bibbins: Officers Founder & CEO Deb Bibbins • Co-Founder & COO Gary Sekorski Year Established — 2019 Mission — We create positive, collaborative experiences between the generations to reduce loneliness and isolation, improve health and well-being, and change the dialogue on aging.

Our intergenerational programs offer people of different ages the opportunity to connect and share their passions, skills, knowledge and experience. These programs improve the health and well-being of participants through meaningful interactions that reduce loneliness, foster kindness and change perceptions of aging. Most fulfilling aspect of your work? We love to sit back and watch the magic happen as older adults interact with youth and young adults. We love to watch as people’s eyes light up and smiles break out across their faces. We enjoy hearing the laughter that results from simple conversation as people get to know one another, relax and enjoy one another’s company. Your biggest obstacle, and how you overcome it? When most people think about societal problems, social connection is not top of mind. We must help people better understand that social connection is a basic human need — as basic as food and water. Many of society’s problems, from 4


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Through unique events and programs, we provide children and young adults with interactive service and learning opportunities involving older adults. We enrich lives, promote kindness and caring, enable the development of trusting relationships across generations, and build cohesive, healthy communities.

Simsbury High students Jessica Symolon and Ellen Flemming painted an Adirondack chair with Ann Hall of Granby (center) at a pre-COVID For All Ages event. Many such chairs are now enhancing Simsbury’s aesthetic appeal townwide. ON THE COVER Top Photo — Alena (left) and Simsbury resident Emily Lou McLean paint rocks at a pre-COVID For All Ages event. McLean is a member of the Simsbury High School Hall of Fame. She served 40-plus years as a nurse and athletic trainer, with dual roles at SHS and The Master’s School in West Simsbury. A Simsbury resident since 1969, she was a Hometown Hero in ’87. Bottom Photo — For All Ages friends share smiles at another pre-COVID intergenerational event.

addiction to violence to poor health, are the result of a lack of social connection. We must encourage people to talk about loneliness and isolation and acknowledge they are problems that deserve attention. The CDC reports that social isolation significantly increases a person’s risk of premature death from all causes — a risk that rivals those of smoking, obesity and physical inactivity. Social isolation is associated with a 50% increased risk of dementia, a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke. And loneliness is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. We must persuade people to help us impact the problem. If we can provide opportunities for intergenerational connection, we can play a part in healing people — and our communities. We have been blessed thus far with receiving the support of some wonderful organizations and people. But we need more organizations, grant-making foundations and individuals to help us. So our goals include raising awareness of the issues surrounding loneliness and isolation and the positive impacts of intergenerational connection, and obtaining funding so that we can have a positive impact in our communities. Most satisfying accomplishment?

Our goals include raising awareness of the issues surrounding loneliness and isolation and the positive impacts of intergenerational connection community organizations, we have been successful in receiving some small grants. Interesting stats and numbers • Pre-COVID, more than 60% of Americans reported feeling lonely. In Connecticut, that translates to 2.1 million people. • 2019 was the first year that there were more people age 65+ living in CT than people age 18 and under. Today, at least 20% of the residents of most CT towns are 65+. This number is expected to grow rapidly over the next two decades. Do you work closely with town agencies or other nonprofits? Yes to both! We cannot do what we do alone. We work with schools and senior centers, along with faith-based organizations, youth-engaged nonprofits and Connecticut universities to fulfill our mission. What do you appreciate most about the Farmington Valley? What constructive change would you like to see?

Over the past year, we made a difference in the Deb Bibbins lives of more than 320 people. Most satisfying is that we played a small part in helping three women who had recently lost their spouses move forward with their lives. It was heartwarming to hear their words of gratitude! We realized that we had made a positive impact in our first year — and that we are capable of helping many more people.

We are grateful for the generosity of community members who have supported us thus far. We’re a lean organization and nearly 100% of our donations go directly to supporting our programs.

Goals for the next 1-5 years?

Additional comment — We welcome people to join our mission via a donation or volunteering their time — for details, visit To be considered for a board position, send your resume and the reason for your interest in joining the board to Deb at +

To date we have welcomed volunteers, donors and program participants from 25 Connecticut towns, including every town in the Farmington Valley, into our mission. We would like to continue to build relationships and make a deeper impact in communities throughout Greater Hartford — and more broadly throughout Connecticut.

Older adults need greater access to reliable, affordable transportation. It is a need today, and the need is going to increase over the next two decades as our communities age. Number of employees — 1 part-time, 5 core volunteers

Volunteer opportunities Board positions • Fundraising • Assisting with programs Anecdote that provides a window into your ethos We seek ways to create fun, have fun and share fun as much as possible. We want to create opportunities where people interact, smile and laugh together, and positively affect one another’s lives. We saw this positive impact in one of our intergenerational rock painting sessions at an adult living community. A resident who had recently lost her spouse had been self-isolating, not engaging with other residents or the staff. She attended our painting session, engaged with young Girl Scouts for 90 minutes, and said she felt joy for the first time since her husband’s death. Following our session, she began to re-engage with her friends. Besides donations, how is your nonprofit funded? Besides donations from individuals, businesses and TODAY MAGAZINE – – NOVEMBER 2020



Finance firm sows seeds of community investment ONE WOULD EXPECT a wealth-advisory firm to preach and practice wise investing. King, Prell & Associates extend their investment mantra beyond the stock market — and into the community, in concrete ways, from collecting nonperishable food to facilitating client donations. Simsbury residents Leigh King and Kevin Prell are the managing partners of their Simsbury-based firm, an Ameriprise Financial affiliate. “Even though the Farmington Valley is quite affluent, there are still many households that are insecure,” says Prell. “Whether they’re food insecure, financially insecure or going through a rough patch in their lives, it’s important for us as a business to give back to a community that has helped us — we want to leave it a better place than when we arrived.” Client donations during a lateSeptember fundraising campaign for Foodshare totaled $1300, equating to 3250 meals, according to marketing manager Betsy Hole. A King-Prell food collection for Avon-based Gifts of Love gathered $850 worth of groceries. “Giving back is part of who we are,”

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By Bruce Deckert Today Magazine Editor-in-Chief

Simsbury-based King, Prell & Associates collected nonperishable food in September for Gifts of Love, the Avon-based social service nonprofit.

says Prell. “By nature, as a company that does financial planning, we like to help people. It’s been integrated into how we

King-Prell has worked with a Canton company called seedership to catalog the firm’s philanthropic investments.

“Even though the Farmington Valley is quite affluent, there are still many households that are … food insecure, financially insecure or going through a rough patch in their lives” — Kevin Prell • King, Prell & Associates

run the practice and it’s an important part of our purpose and our company culture.” At press time, the firm is planning an electronics recycling day at its Hopmeadow Street office on Saturday, Oct. 31 from 9 a.m. to Magna Physical Therapy & 12 noon. Sports Medicine Center LLC “The benefit of giving back and Book Your Appointment Today! being kind to other people is that it 860.679.0430 CELEBRATING helps build trust and 15 AVON • CANTON attract prospects.” YEARS Prell observes. “But the main reason is Sports Medicine | Orthopedics | Dance Medicine | Pilates to give back to the Neurological Care | Post-Operative Care | Personal Training community you Vestibular Care | Massage Therapy | Dry Needling live in.”

According to seedership’s 2020 Spring Into Kindness small business study, 99% of 400-plus small businesses surveyed have given back to their communities this year — 70% consistently throughout the year. “We built seedership to help businesses showcase the good they do and encourage customers who want to make a difference in their communities to support these businesses,” says Jennifer Smithberger, who co-founded the company with her husband Ray. The Avon residents launched seedership in 2018. Their first client? King, Prell & Associates. The premise of seedership is simple yet profound: Help businesses measure their altruistic efforts via a social-impact Convenient Online Booking Online Gift Certificates


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dashboard and storytelling platform — making their local story more visible, displaying their impact and cultivating acts of kindness in other sectors of the community. “Most businesses care about the communities where they live and work and want to give back to strengthen their communities,” says Jennifer. “However, they don’t proactively seek or expect an ROI for their business, and they undervalue what they give and understate what they do. The good they do can benefit their community and their business.” A key seedership principle is that a company’s philanthropy isn’t an expense or trade-off, but rather an asset that helps the company differentiate and grow — and as businesses grow, the good they cultivate can also grow. Further, seedership aims to “leverage the science of kindness,” says Jennifer, who notes that medical research shows what occurs during an act of kindness. “The giver, receiver and witnesses all benefit,” she affirms, “with the added production of brain chemicals that make up the happiness trifecta — dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. That’s why it has been said that kindness is contagious,

King-Prell has worked with a Canton company called seedership and one good deed can create a domino effect of goodness well beyond the original intent — inspiring positive and caring actions to build community and generate momentum for more kindness.” Since the COVID shutdown began in March 2020 — rendering countless local workers unemployed — the concept of investing in the community has taken on new meaning … and King-Prell’s giveback ethos has kindled a grassroots effort to support healthcare workers in their coronavirus battle. “Metro Bis is one of our favorite local restaurants,” says Prell. “When the pandemic forced them to close, we decided to help with a seed donation, which helped them grow the Feed the Frontline CT program. Metro Bis has raised more than $25,000 and delivered 3,000-plus meals for frontline medical professionals and first responders throughout Connecticut.” + • Editor-in-Chief Bruce Deckert is an award-winning journalist

Photo by Wendy Rosenberg


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100 Women Who Can multiply good in Valley By Carrie Firestone Special to Today Magazine

I FIRST HEARD about the 100 Women Care network from my friend Eleni Kavros DeGraw during one of our effective altruism discussions at Dom’s Coffee in Avon. She was excited to explain a model that has taken off across the country — a one-hour meeting with 100 women that nets $10,000 for a local charity. And I was intrigued. “I knew that area nonprofits had not recovered strongly from the recession and I knew that people are always searching for a way to help, but often need guidance,” she told me. Soon after, local 100 Women co-founders Eileen Carroll and Erin Devine met with Kavros DeGraw — all are Avon residents — to discuss exactly how the 100 Women model would work in the Farmington Valley. From there, 100 Women Who Can (Farmington Valley) was born. “When we started with early informational meetings, I remember saying the words apolitical and nonreligious often,” says Carroll. “What helped people connect to the idea best was saying, ‘There is far more that unites us than divides us.’” Devine’s favorite part of the 100 Women has been “having a sense of common purpose and providing a platform for our members to learn about unmet needs in our community and the organizations that do the hands-on work to meet those needs.” The meetings have been as exciting and efficient as Kavros continued on page 15

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Erin Devine (left) and Eileen Carroll co-founded 100 Women Who Can after a conversation with Eleni Kavros DeGraw (right).

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CT Freedom Trail has deep roots in town By Noelle Blake Special to Today Magazine

THE TOWN of Farmington is known for its strong ties to the foundations of Connecticut history. Rich with artifacts and important historical sites, Farmington serves as the home for the remnants of early life in the Farmington Valley. With this in mind, it is easy to understand the town’s strong connection with one of the state’s most famous legacies: the Connecticut Freedom Trail, established by the General Assembly in 1995. According to, the trail was established to recognize the struggle of African-Americans and other people of color “for freedom and social equality in Connecticut” and to identify sites statewide “that bear witness to milestones in that quest.” The trail currently has more than 130 sites in 50-plus towns. Each site honors a significant aspect of African-American history, either due to a large minority population historically in that town or the gravesite of a person of color. Farmington is responsible for 13 sites on the Connecticut Freedom Trail, outmatched only by Hartford (18) and New Haven (20). Many of the locations and people in Farmington are known for their

contributions to abolitionist efforts, including their assistance to the Mende Africans who stayed in town during their episode related to the slave ship Amistad. Farmington residents helped these men win their freedom. Austin F. Williams, a leading abolitionist, utilized a carriage house on his property as the primary home for the Mende Africans during their stay in

enough to hold a grown man. The Elijah Lewis House is a site on the trail, but the home itself is private property. One of the most significant locations among the Farmington sites on the Freedom Trail is the Samuel Deming House. Deming arranged and supervised the stay of the Mende Africans in Farmington. A legislator, merchant and farmer, he was an

Many of these slaves aimed to reach Canada or upstate New York, and Farmington was at the crossroads Farmington. Later, his home was associated with the Underground Railroad. A trapdoor in the carriage house led to a basement where fugitive slaves could be concealed. One fugitive, Henry Davis, visited Williams’ home after his escape from slavery in Virginia and became the farm manager, living on their property for 70 years. After the Civil War, Williams headed a local branch of the Freedmen’s Bureau, which sought jobs for emancipated former slaves. The property is designated a National Historic Landmark. Elijah Lewis was another prominent Farmington citizen and abolitionist. Lewis sheltered fugitive slaves in a space at the base of his chimney in his 18th-century home. A large stone in the chimney can still be removed to reveal a hiding place big

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outspoken abolitionist. His wife, Catherine Deming, was among many Farmington women who raised money and signed petitions to help the abolitionist cause. Their home was also an Underground Railroad station for many years. Farmington was located in the middle of the most modern transportation system of the times — the New Haven-Northampton Canal. Many of these slaves aimed to reach Canada or upstate New York, and Farmington was at the crossroads. Farmington’s contributions to the abolitionist movement in the 19th century resulted in the freedom of hundreds of slaves. The historical sites in town today commemorate these African-Americans and remind us of Farmington’s significant role in their long journey to freedom. +

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AN 82-YEAR-OLD MAN — let’s call him Jack — is glad to be home from the hospital after a heart attack. However, he is weak, confused and frightened. This health event is made more difficult during the COVID pandemic. He has 10 medications that all sound similar, a diet plan, an exercise plan, discharge instructions that were reviewed but not remembered, and (fortunately) an order for home healthcare. A registered nurse from the Farmington Valley Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) — let’s call her Ellen — arrives to check his vitals, set up his medication and communicate with his doctor any concerns or changes. She wears full personal protective gear. Ellen is Jack’s lifeline to recuperation. He can see her eyes smiling and hears her warm voice, and he starts to relax. Nurses from the Farmington Valley VNA — with locations in Granby and Simsbury — will provide continued care for up to 30 patients each week. Today’s medical home care is complex and takes a specialized skill set. When Ellen first sees Jack, she immediately assesses his medical status.

She alone is in the home making medical decisions, and sometimes immediate action is needed. Jack’s heart rate was a little fast; Ellen assessed that perhaps it was the anxiety of coming home, but maybe he also needed a tweak in his medication. She noticed that his home needed some safety modifications, asked his doctor about his medication, and ordered occupational and physical therapy from the VNA. Her calm reassurance gave Jack peace as she set up his medications in dosage boxes. Ellen ordered VNA home health aides to help Jack with meals, personal care and companionship. Teaching patients how to navigate getting the care needed to regain independent living is critical. With at least six patients a day, each VNA nurse must facilitate the communication between physicians, pharmacists, family and caregivers while delivering quality care and support 24/7. They also must be tested for COVID each week, take every protective precaution and change gear between patients, while reassuring and

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we’re building boundless possibility. The expansion of the Village at McLean will usher in a new era of inspired senior living for current and future residents. The new Goodrich building will offer striking views of neighboring Hop Meadow golf course and club membership to residents. Each day will present boundless opportunities for wellness and an array of first-class amenities including a modern fitness center and performing arts theater. Enjoy new dining venues and life-enriching programs with your neighbors in our active community. So much more than a beautiful new look, we’re transforming the way you live.

treating healthcare and hospice patients. Medicare, Medicaid, insurance, grants, private donors and town funding keep this amazing healthcare available. No one is turned away from the VNA for inability to pay. Keeping patients in the comfort of home allows for faster recuperation, avoids the high cost of nursing homes and prevents rehospitalizations. Farmington Valley residents can also receive free home health checkups. VNA nurses visit Valley homes and senior living facilities every day. They provide blood pressure and blood sugar screenings by appointment and at outdoor clinics during the pandemic. Pre-COVID, these were offered at libraries and senior centers. Seasonal flu shots are also a vital VNA service. VNA nurses and therapists are key links who provide the care needed to live a healthy, independent life. Home health professionals are the unsung heroes of healthcare, now more than ever. + Related VNA Story — Page 13

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‘Crutchwalker’ conquers peaks on benefit hike

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Albrycht, who will turn 43 in late November, recalls the trek’s best moment: “There is a section of the hike after SIMSBURY RESIDENT Dana Albrycht Mount Adams where you can see Mount has undertaken a fundraising hike to Washington far off in the distance and benefit the disability community — one the terrain is otherworldly. … I remember of the East Coast’s most grueling hikes, feeling an immense amount of gratitude the 22-mile Presidential Traverse in New for being in that moment, on that Hampshire’s iconic White Mountains. mountain, with my best friends.” Albrycht (pronounced All-bright) Born and raised in Canton, Albrycht scaled eight 4000-foot peaks in late captained his Canton High wrestling team September, including the tallest in the and University of Vermont swim team. He East, Mount Washington. competed as a swimmer in two Paralympic Oh, he hiked entirely on crutches. Games (1996 and 2000). Due to a birth defect, Albrycht’s Plus, he held the American record in right leg was amputated when he was the 100-meter butterfly (from 1996-2004) responsible grammatical errors) 11 monthsfor old. For most of his life he and won a bronze medal in the 50-meter wore a prosthesis, but a few years ago freestyle at the ’94 Paralympic Swimming arthritic pain forced him to forgo the World Championships. prosthesis and go solely with crutches. He is also the onetime world-record 374 Hopmeadow Street • Simsbury, CT 06089 The self-proclaimed “Crutchwalker” has Today Magazine featured Dana Albrycht holder for Fastest Marathon On Crutches 860-651-8236 so far raised $9000 via a GoFundMe in our September cover story. (2007 NYC). Find the digital edition at: page: — search Thehow toughest of thevalue hike? Find out you can aspect get improved and peace Crutchwalker. “The difficult part by far was the of mind. Callmost or visit our office today! “The hike was simply amazing,” says final four-mile descent,” says Albrycht. Albrycht, who was joined by three friends. “We’d hiked about 18 miles already and “The hike was simply “The scenery, the terrain, the challenge, Only I was in a significant amount of pain, amazing ... itPreview was the camaraderie — it was the journey of specifically in my hands and wrists (Layout includes a margin clear of text and graphics a lifetime and I feel so fortunate to have because as I am going downhill all my the journey of a lifetime” as this information may be covered by frame and/or clips during installation) been able to be a part of it.” continued on page 14 By Bruce Deckert Today Magazine Editor-in-Chief

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100+ YEARS OF CARING —————————————————————————————— Farmington Valley Visiting Nurse Association Simsbury + Granby (860) 651-3539 ————————————————————— Nancy Scheetz answered this Q&A — Related VNA Story • Page 11 Executive Director — Nancy A. Scheetz Nonprofit Officers — President John O’Connell, VP Dennis Chapron, Treasurer Naseem Shaikh, Secretary Stephanie McGuire Board Members — Chris Allen, Jeff Case, Tim Glew, Katie Katz, Atique Mirza, Colleen O’Connor, Andrew St. Onge, Derek Weiss Number of Employees — 64 • full-time, part-time, per diem Year Established — 1908 Mission — The mission of the Farmington Valley Visiting Nurse Association (aka Farmington Valley VNA) is to provide and facilitate home care and hospice services to the post-acute care patient, as well as to remain committed to offering community-based wellness programs, with a primary focus on healthy living and illness prevention within its service area. Most fulfilling aspect of your work? Being able to successfully treat and heal patients within their own homes. We have been able to remain committed to the community of the Farmington Valley with full town support for all our programs. In the current COVID-19 pandemic, we have been on the front line of continuing to provide safe home care for our patients. Your biggest obstacle, and how you overcome it? Trying to maintain quality care and services, while keeping within the limitations of some of the payer sources, is always a challenge. We are fortunate, though, as the dedicated donor population assists us in being able to maintain care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. Most satisfying accomplishment? Recently being able to achieve a perfect Department of Public Health Survey, in addition to recently established alignments with area senior living residences. We have been working closely with the CT DPH and our state home care association to provide the very best in patient care during the COVID pandemic. Goals for the next 1-5 years? Continue to grow and expand our services while becoming the Farmington Valley’s primary home care and hospice service. Anecdote that provides a window into your ethos: A patient that we were caring for recently came to the end of her insurance authorizations for care, but her goals and needs

Courtesy Photo

VNA Nurses Continue To Care For Community

The Farmington Valley VNA offers patients a unique pet-therapy program

continued. Due to the support of our donors, we have a program called Health Supervision — a service that allows us to continue to see and care for patients and support their overall health goals. Besides donations, how is your nonprofit funded? Insurance reimbursements for care and grants. What do you appreciate most about this area? The Valley towns have a deep commitment to the health and wellbeing of their senior population. They fully support us in being able to offer services that no one else would pay for. Interesting stats + numbers — We’ve been here for 112 years; we have a 100% approval rating from our patients and their families; and despite the larger network hospitals taking over the market share of referrals, our business has grown 25% in the past year. Volunteer opportunities — We utilize volunteers within the agency for administrative support in the hospice program for the treatment of patients and families, and with our Granby food bank. Additional comment — The Farmington Valley VNA was also on the front line of healthcare during the flu pandemic of 1918. Technology in healthcare knowledge has come so very far since then, but the role of the nurse remains one of compassion and integrity in care. We have always been here for you and will continue to be. We are available every day so that a personal touch is always available. Importantly, we are now there in full protective gear, always looking out for the health and welfare of our residents, especially now during this pandemic. We take great satisfaction in knowing and honoring our history and place in the community. +

Owned & Operated by the Carmon Family

…the Carmon Family believes that each funeral should be personal and meaningful. Our services reflect the Carmon family values and our ongoing commitment to serve families with care and compassion.

Avon Location

Granby Location



301 Country Club Road

364 Salmon Brook Street




Thankful Turkey initiative supports families in need By Taryn Miller-Stevens Special to Today Magazine

LIKE MOST HOLIDAYS this year, Thanksgiving is sure to look different. Unemployment is at an all-time high since the Great Depression and families are hurting because of COVID-19. Even for those who are managing financially, fewer people traveling means that more families will celebrate the holidays virtually. Through it all, many of us can and want to give back this year by helping our neighbors in need. Miller Farms, my family’s fourthgeneration business, has reflected on these realities and pivoted during the 2020 uncertainty. While our core business is now a natural pet food called Oma’s Pride, for 70 years we’ve sold Thanksgiving turkeys from our market in Avon. We’re proud that over 1 million people have hosted Thanksgiving with Miller Farms turkeys, and we didn’t want the tradition to end with COVID. A pandemic means our annual holiday market isn’t happening this year. The Miller Farms “Turkey Tent” welcomed everyone for decades with warm fall smells, familiar smiles and pure food joy. This year we’re bringing the spirit online and launching a new giving tradition called

the Thankful Turkey. For every Miller Farms Thanksgiving turkey purchased this year, one will be given to a family in need through Foodshare, our local Feeding America food bank partner. “In a normal year, Foodshare serves 118,000 people in Connecticut,” says Foodshare President and CEO Jason Jakubowski. “Right now we’re feeding over 1000 people per day, many who are new to food insecurity. Foodshare is honored to partner with Miller Farms and bring the spirit of Thanksgiving to our community through the Thankful Turkey.” At press time, over 2000 people had already ordered online. We’re making giving back easy for businesses too — they can purchase Thankful Turkeys for their employees at wholesale pricing.

Miller Farms is shipping anywhere in the continental United States. We’ve heard from former customers who moved away and are thrilled about the Thankful Turkey. All orders must be made by Nov. 13, and we’re selling a limited number of 2500 turkeys. Local Connecticut delivery is free and orders will be delivered the week before Thanksgiving. Before COVID, I was working in commercial real estate in New York City on corporate responsibility initiatives. I never imagined I would be working with my family to bring the Thankful Turkey to life in 2020. My parents, Cal and Sam Miller-Stevens, and cousins, Adam DeJulius and Capri Brighenti, have gone above and beyond to make a Miller Farms Thanksgiving happen this year. What a wild ride. I’m grateful that 2,500 families — about 25,000 people — will have a free Thanksgiving turkey this year because of our collective efforts and the generosity of our customers, who are making a tangible impact. Our core belief is that “Everyone Is Family.” This means nobody goes hungry. We hope you will join us in ensuring that all Connecticut families have a happy Thanksgiving during this roller-coaster year. +

Thankful Turkey info —

ALBRYCHT — continued from page 12

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weight and pressure is concentrated in that area [on his crutches]. I remember saying to myself, ‘Accept the fact you are in pain, change your attitude, and have the courage to overcome this.’ “So that’s what I did, and I just repeated over and over one of my favorite mantras: ‘One step at a time, one mountain at a time.’ This allowed me to focus just on the next step and not how much pain I was in or how much longer I had to go — before I knew it we were at the bottom, and I was so happy and relieved that I was able to push through.” His fundraising hike will benefit New England Disabled Sports and the Hospital for Special Care Adaptive Sports Program. Further,

“I remember feeling an immense amount of gratitude for being in that moment, on that mountain, with my best friends” Albrycht wants to establish a mentoring program for children and teens who have disabilities. “Individuals with disabilities are at a much higher risk for mental health issues, and unfortunately there really is not a program in our state that addresses these issues,” he says. “Having a mental health background as a former school counselor … I feel it is crucial to start addressing all the various feelings that surround having a disability through a mentorship program at a young age, so children and teens along with their families will have an outlet that is currently missing to appropriately deal with this extremely important topic.” Another high point of the hike came on the first morning. After enduring whipping winds and temperatures in the teens, he says, “The sun started to come up over the ridgeline and it was honestly one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. … The terrain was just so amazing — I’ll never forget that moment.” +

CALENDAR Event info is accurate to our knowledge — but be sure to confirm

Canton Main St. Farmers Market Canton Town Hall – parking lot • Sundays thru 11/1 – 10 am-1 pm Free entry • Plentiful fresh produce Thanksgiving Day 5K Turkey Trot Thompson Brook School, Avon • Thu 11/26 – rolling start: 7-8:30 am Register – Fundraiser – Connecticut Children’s Center for inflammatory bowel disease

BlueforPink Fundraiser! Simsbury Police Department • November – all month Conn. Cancer Foundation benefit Info + donate –

Our digital edition is posted well before the month begins Get an early peek at the Calendar – Unite by Light Luminary Event Simsbury townwide Simsbury Unity Mile of Light Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury • Sunday 12/6 – 5 pm • rain:12/13 Join us as hundreds of homes and 1 mile of road are set aglow:

Simsbury 350th History Walk Iron Horse Boulevard, Simsbury • Daily thru 12/1 – self-guided Free • Take a walk and experience 350 years of Simsbury history: Simsbury 350th Hunt for History Numerous locations in Simsbury • Daily thru 12/1 – self-guided Free • Visit 35 historical locations via clues – Clues + Contest Rules: celebration-events

Red Cross Blood Drives Numerous locations in Farm. Valley • Numerous days + times Register –

Holiday Gift-Giving Program Canton Senior & Social Services • By Friday 12/4 to give/receive help 693-5811 – Donations of gift cards

BlueforPink Fundraiser

100 WOMEN — continued from page 8 DeGraw first described. At each meeting, we walk into the shiny ballroom of Avon’s North House restaurant and take a name badge with a blank ballot tucked inside the plastic badge cover. Erin, Eileen and Eleni announce the nominees, always Hartford County nonprofits nominated by 100 Women members prior to the meeting. They draw a total of three nominees from a fishbowl and read the nonprofits’ names. The person who nominated the charity gets up and gives a heartfelt presentation about the organization for five minutes, followed by five more minutes of thoughtful audience questions. After two more women discuss their nominated organizations and two more rounds of questions, we arrive at the hard part of the night — deciding which organization to select. As usual, the presentations are deeply moving. But we can only choose one. We pull out the blank ballot and vote. While Eileen, Erin and Eleni collect and count the ballots, the winner of last session’s grant discusses how her organization has used the money. After a few minutes, the three E’s return with ballots counted. They announce the winner and ask each member to take out their blank $100 checks and write in the name of the winning organization. In one hour, almost always to the nose, a local nonprofit walks away with 100-plus $100 checks. “It feels really good to see that each of

Online: Fitness Classes for Kids! • Mondays – 4:45 pm – all ages Free • Register at:

Send Events: Online: Beginner Pilates Online: Intermediate Pilates Magna Physical Therapy, Avon • Beginner – Thursdays 6-7 pm • Intermediate – Mondays 9-10 am Wednesdays 8:30-9:30 am Register – 860-679-0430 Online: Virtual Autism Programs Autism Families CONNECTicut • Fridays + Saturdays Free • Register at: 50th Reunion: Simsbury High ’70 • Postponed – new date TBD Info – ADVERTISE with TODAY MAGAZINE Best-in-Valley Circulation • 860-988-1910

In one hour, a local nonprofit walks away with 100-plus $100 checks

us doing our small part can make a real difference in the lives of others,” Devine says. Since its 2017 inception, 100 Women Who Can (Farmington Valley) has raised nearly $215,000 for 14 Hartford County nonprofits. “Everyone is busy,” Carroll says. “Most people think it’s important to volunteer, donate and support good works in some way, but it can be challenging to actually get it done — 100 Women Who Can gives community-minded, busy people a way to participate in good works. We have four one-hour meetings each year. That’s it. In fewer than 60 minutes, you learn about three nonprofits in Hartford County, vote to choose a recipient and write your check. Done.” While 100 Women has moved to Zoom this year, nothing will deter this growing group of women from continuing to support the Valley community. “I’m truly grateful to see how our community responded to a simple idea in such a significant manner,” Kavros DeGraw says. “Don’t ever doubt that a committed group can change the world.” Nonprofit recipients — Aurora Foundation, Autism Families CONNECTicut, Community Partners in Action, Covenant Preparatory School, Footwear with Care, Gifts of Love, Grace Academy, Greater New Britain Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, Hands on Hartford, Hartford Promise, Healing Meals, Horizons at The Ethel Walker School, Interval House, Malta House of Care + Author Carrie Firestone is an Avon resident

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Focused on Safety, Education, and Public Health Keeping Our Families Safe As a retired police sergeant and former volunteer firefighter, public safety is an important issue to Senator Witkos. He stands with our officers who keep our communities safe and will make sure they have the tools necessary to do their jobs.

Ensuring Quality Education As a father, Senator Witkos knows how important our schools and teachers are to our students. He’s proud to have recently been named to the Connecticut Education Association Honor Roll for being an advocate for students, teachers, and public education.

Improving Public Health Senator Witkos will continue to fight for increased resources for people with mental health and substance abuse issues. Kevin passed legislation to ensure all victims of sexual assault have access to legal protections, and he will continue to help victims.




Paid for by Witkos 2020, John Vamos,Treasurer. Approved by Kevin Witkos




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