Today Magazine • ​February 202​4

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TODAY Covering the Heart of the Farmington Valley

REFUGEE

RESCUE

Local VFW Spearheads Afghan Redemption Mission

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MINI MARSUPIAL • The opossum is a marsupial, or pouched mammal, and is related to other marsupials such as the kangaroo and koala — infant marsupials are born incompletely developed and are typically carried and suckled in a pouch on the mother’s belly • After 11-13 days in the womb, embryonic opossum infants are so small at birth that 20 could fit into a teaspoon, per the Opossum Society of U.S. website • There are over 250 marsupial species and 65 opossum species, but only one is native to North America — this possum was captured figuratively in Canton by our award-winning contributing photographer Photo by Wendy Rosenberg

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LEADING OFF

Risky Refugee Business

CONTENTS

IF YOUR FAMILY faced the precarious contradiction of being unsafe in COVER STORY your own home state, what would you do and what would you hope for? 4 — Mission Possible: Afghanistan-Style The two-decade U.S. war in Afghanistan presents such a paradox. Seeing a clear need and sensing a clarion call, The longest war in U.S. history began soon after 9/11, yet ended abruptly a local VFW has accepted a redemption mission in 2021 — and then Afghanistan quickly succumbed to the Taliban again, and tackled an Afghan refugee project per multiple reports. Further reports indicate that many Afghans who SPOTLIGHT ON THE ARTS supported the U.S. war effort have been stranded and unable to leave Afghanistan. These individuals and their families live in peril because the 12 — Winter Wonder An award-winning photographer offers a Farmington Taliban evidently has been actively seeking to punish — via imprisonment, torture and execution — those who helped America and its allies. River image plus the accompanying backstory So a local VFW has undertaken an Afghan refugee project, with the BUSINESS BEAT goal of resettling an endangered family: “We have a moral obligation to 14 — Valley Biz Milestones help those who helped us at the risk of their own lives,” says VFW leader Tim Healy — our cover story explores this risk-reward initiative … BWD Area businesses celebrate anniversaries, achievements and other quasi-amazing exploits NOTEWORTHY NONPROFITS

19 — Rotary Jubilee A civic-service nonprofit celebrates five decades of community-building in Connecticut and abroad QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“ There are few joys in life that match the exhilarating feeling of having snatched a family from the jaws of death ” — VFW leader Tim Healy BY THE NUMBERS

50+ — Afghan project volunteers

LETTERS

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JANUARY EDITION KUDOS Our January cover story elucidates that all Connecticut families — not just urban youth — have school choice — CLICK HERE for our coverage THANK YOU very much for sharing the story of the upcoming Avon History Museum to be open later this year. It is rare these days for any organization to open a new museum, but with the 50th anniversary of the Avon Historical Society coinciding this year with the 200th anniversary of the first use of the schoolhouse on Route 44 that will become the museum, we felt that these milestones needed to be celebrated. We expect to be open later this year and applaud everyone who has made a donation and bought a ticket to TableScapes or a paver to support this project. Tickets for TableScapes on March 15-16 (Friday -Saturday) and pavers can be ordered through our website: www.avonhistoricalsociety.org — Terri Wilson • President • Avon Historical Society LETTERS POLICY Letters to the editor are welcome. Ideal maximum length: 100 words — with occasional exceptions. We reserve the right to edit for style and space considerations. Provide your full name, hometown, email address and phone number — the phone and email won’t be published except at your request.

Today Magazine • Covering the Heart of the Farmington Valley Bruce William Deckert — Publisher + Editor-in-Chief 860-988-1910 • Bruce.Deckert@TodayPublishing.net www.TodayPublishing.net > Digital Editions • Award-Winning Today Online • 24/7 news — www.TodayPublishing.net/blog Follow Today Magazine CT on social media > Advertising — Contact the Publisher Editorial Associate — Kayla Tyson Contributing Photographer — Wendy Rosenberg Five Towns • One Aim — Exceptional Community Journalism Farmington • Avon • Canton • Simsbury • Granby – CT • USA

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The mountains of Afghanistan are both beautiful and daunting — after the U.S. military pulled out of the country in 2021, many Afghans who supported American forces were unable to evacuate and have faced the daunting threat of extrajudicial imprisonment, torture and execution

REFUGEE RESCUE

COVER STORY VETERAN VOICES

VFW Spearheads Afghan Redemption Project By Bruce William Deckert Today Magazine • Editor-in-Chief

A LOCAL CHAPTER of the Veterans of Foreign Wars has undertaken a major humanitarian initiative — an Afghan refugee resettlement project. The VFW’s mission is to help resettle in Connecticut an Afghan family whose members helped U.S. forces during military operations in Afghanistan, where such families continue to live in dangerous conditions because of their support of U.S. and coalition forces. The U.S. war in Afghanistan began in October 2001, less than one month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and lasted until August 2021 — the twodecade war is the longest conflict in American history. 4

While tens of thousands of Afghan nationals who supported the U.S. were evacuated in 2021, thousands more were unable to exit the country, and more than two years later many face a perilous existence in Afghanistan. Avon-based VFW Post 3272 announced its Afghan refugee project in August 2023 and has since been laying the extensive groundwork to prepare to bring an Afghan family to Greater Hartford. “We have a moral obligation to help those who helped us at the risk of their own lives,” says Post 3272 commander Tim Healy. “In addition, we want to engage younger veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, to help them

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bring their personal involvement in these struggles to a meaningful, satisfying conclusion.” The VFW has utilized a blueprint and training provided by Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services. A New Haven-based nonprofit, IRIS seeks to empower refugees and immigrants to become self-sufficient and integrated members of their new communities, while recognizing that these newcomers enrich the local communities they join. IRIS is a government-contracted agency via the U.S. State Department. “With substantial help from men and women who have done this sort of thing before, we have been able to attract more than 50 volunteers and collect over $20,000 to fund the


“ By resettling an Afghan family whose members put their lives on the line for us, we hope to demonstrate both our military and civilian communities ” — Tim Healy VFW post commander ON THE COVER The Afghan girl on the cover and the boy and girl duo on this page are not part of the Afghan family being sponsored and resettled by the local VFW post — for their security and safety, the identity of the family coming to Connecticut is being concealed — these photos are of unidentified Afghan children

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“ The value of veterans in our project,” says Healy. “I stand in awe of our community’s generosity and willingness to help.” Brian O’Donnell, a member of VFW Post 3272, has been one of the project’s volunteer leaders. “Our commander Tim Healy proposed to our post members that we sponsor an Afghan interpreter and his family,” says O’Donnell. “Five of us, including Tim, agreed to be team leaders in making it work. Jerry Stinson and I work on the financial aspect.” A Vietnam veteran, O’Donnell is the longtime owner of Midas of Canton, located on Route 44 aka Albany Turnpike. “I called my good friend Carrie Firestone,” says O’Donnell, “who is very active in worthwhile causes and has a very large group of moms that help her causes when called — she has enthusiastically been involved with us from the beginning.” An Avon resident, Firestone is a book author and a co-founder of ForwardCT, a civic service organization. She has written a Today

community goes far beyond that which most of us realize — that same personal drive that leads one to commit to service to their country … frequently leads to a full life of community service ” — Dan Polhamus Avon Town Council chairman Magazine article about the 100 Women Who Can movement. “I also belong to the Avon-Canton Rotary,” O’Donnell notes. “They have been very helpful financially.” The Rotary has donated $2500 for the Afghan project, and several Rotarians have given individually. An unidentified individual from the Avonbased Church of Saint Ann gave $5000, according to O’Donnell, and a benefit concert at the Avon Senior Center also raised funds.

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A $3000 grant from the Avon chapter of UNICO National, a prominent Italian-American service organization, kick-started the fundraising. The VFW and IRIS are working together as co-sponsors of the Afghan family. Volunteer teams are helping the family obtain housing, furniture, clothing, employment and medical care. Other necessary tasks include Dari and Pashto interpretation, English language training, transportation and cultural introductions. “Our VFW post is supplying some of the volunteers needed, but we’re also relying on the community’s help to get the whole job done properly,” says Healy, who is also a Vietnam veteran. “We are extremely grateful that the Farmington Valley community has joined us in the critically important work of what our Jewish neighbors would term ‘tikkun olam’ or repairing the world.” IRIS approved the VFW’s application shortly after Christmas, which included a careful vetting procedure through the Department


VFW members Tim Healy (far left), Chris Bulko, Gene Dzialo and Tom Vorhees at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton next to the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered vessel — Healy is the post commander and Bulko is the volunteer housing team leader for the Afghan refugee project

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of Homeland Security. The VFW is conducting the final steps in the process before submitting a green-light form to IRIS that signals all systems are go for sponsoring a family. “The value of veterans in our community goes far beyond that which most of us realize,” says Avon Town Council chairman Dan Polhamus. “That same personal drive that leads one to commit to service to their country and military is one that frequently leads to a full life of community service. It’s no surprise to me to see our VFW post looking to give back to others, in this case Afghans who helped us in the war on terror.” For clear security reasons, the identity of the family is being withheld for now. Their arrival in Connecticut is anticipated in the next month or two, although Healy underscores that at this juncture there’s no way to know for sure. “One of the most wonderful things I observed as the project took shape,” Healy notes, “is the happy diversity of the people who chose to get involved — we have team members who are Jewish, Christian, Muslim and completely secular. It’s certainly a refreshing contrast to what we read in the news.” The hope is to find housing for the Afghan family in West Hartford near

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Sunrays pierce a dark canopy of clouds and appear to illuminate a military vehicle in Afghanistan — likewise, a local VFW is aiming to shine rays of hope in the lives of an imperiled Afghan family by resettling them in Greater Hartford

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Bishop’s Corner, and employment team leader Brian Chapman has scouted for jobs in the area. “When that possibility emerged, Brian returned with remarkable news,” says Healy, who has been part of the VFW for about a decade and has served as post commander since 2022. “The people with whom he’d spoken almost unanimously responded that they’d happily work with anyone, whether they spoke English or not. … Neither of us was expecting that. Once again, it’s a testament to the astonishing generosity of our community and our willingness to work together to help people in need.” Once the family arrives, volunteers will labor vigorously to secure employment, register children for school,


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“ We have a moral obligation arrange for English language tutoring and more — including American technology basics such as using an ATM, establishing phone service and connecting to the Internet. “There’s an enormous amount of work to do in a very short period of time,” says Healy. “A lot will happen very quickly — with the ultimate goal being to get the family securely independent as soon as possible.” There is still time for new volunteers to step up and accomplish a variety of tasks. Donations are also still welcome — to learn about specific details, see the contact information below. “This project is an impactful and thoughtful way to reward and assist allies to our troops,” says Polhamus, a Democrat who moved to Avon from West Hartford in 2017. “It calls attention to a struggle that many of our younger veterans face, the desire to help our Afghan allies who sacrificed much on our behalf.” Polhamus is serving his third term on the Avon Town Council and his second term as chairman. He was

to help those who helped us at the risk of their own lives … I stand in awe of our community’s generosity and willingness to help ” — Tim Healy VFW post commander elected to the council in 2020 and was first elected chair by other council members in January 2022. “My best wishes certainly go to the recipient family as they relocate to the region,” he says, “and as always my deepest thanks go to our veterans and VFW Post 3272.” The VFW welcomes assistance from people who have been involved in projects like this before and from those who are new to such humanitarian work. “If you’re a member of a faith community, your prayers are

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enormously welcome,” says Healy. “By resettling an Afghan family whose members put their lives on the line for us, we hope to demonstrate the finest traditions of both our military and civilian communities — I stand in humble awe and offer thanks to everyone.” Via all the tangible nuts-and-bolts aspects of the refugee resettlement project, the volunteers are aiming to offer the Afghan family some essential intangible support and encouragement. “We’d like to help the family simply to feel welcome and cherished,” observes Healy, who served in Vietnam with the Army in 1970 in the 196th Light Infantry Brigade. “Some of our volunteers will be doing simple, friendly everyday things with the family — shopping, checking out the library and recreational facilities, and just exchanging stories and feelings. … Many volunteers become lifelong friends of some very grateful and happy families.” As a result of the IRIS training, volunteers understand that refugees have endured considerable trauma —


“so it’s essential that we help them feel safe and enjoy a sense of personal agency,” Healy adds. “People who have done this before tell us there are few joys in life that match the exhilarating feeling of having snatched a family from the jaws of death,” he says, “and then of helping its members have peaceful and meaningful lives.” +

• For info about volunteers, donations and more: Tim Healy • Commander Avon VFW Post 3272 P.O. Box 297, Avon, CT 06001 860-693-9744 tim.healy@comcast.net

CLICK HERE VFW GoFundMe website

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SPOTLIGHT ON THE ARTS

SNOW SQUALL • They say that a picture paints a thousand words — yet let’s give Tom Cameron an opportunity to verbally explain his exquisite Farmington River photo:

“I named this image Snow Squall, but the snow coming down at this point is admittedly relatively light. … Every snow on the river is unique and each is beautiful. But I was really inspired by the subdued lighting and the balance this snow gave to this particular snow scene. “Curiously, this particular mostly flatwater short stretch of the river between the dam in Collinsville and the Avon dam is one of the few sections of the Farmington River in CT that is not part of the designated Wild and Scenic section of the river. “The DEEP (Department of Energy and Environmental Protection) is leading a program to remove the lower dam in Avon. While that will convert some of this wide flatwater to narrower flowing water, my hope is that this section in the picture eventually could be declared Wild and Scenic. “So, some years into the future, this stretch of the river will likely not look like it does here.” • This photo was taken from the western side of Cameron’s property in Avon, looking south or downriver — Burlington is on the shore on the right, while the Canton town line and Collinsville are a stone’s throw north • Cameron has received a First Place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for another Farmington River photo in Today Magazine

CLICK HERE — Tom Cameron’s award-winning photo

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Photo by 13 Tom Cameron

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Valley Biz – Milestone News

BUSINESS BEAT

Wood Flooring Company Celebrates 35 Years Special to Today Magazine

• No annual fee — “Most consumer reporting agencies charge either a startup or annual fee or sometimes both. We do not charge fees to begin using our services or annual fees to maintain being a client of ours.”

Floors Reincarnated • Owner — Steve Skaret Hopmeadow Street • Simsbury (860) 651-1900 • Year launched — 1988 • Summary of goods + services Flooring business — wood floors exclusively — sanding, installation, custom staining — fully insured — free estimates • Why he decided to start the business Prior to his Army service in 1970-71 in Vietnam, Steve Skaret worked for his older brother Lloyd Skaret’s business, Skaret Floor Service in East Hartland, where he gained his flooring experience. Lloyd has since retired and his son Rick Skaret now owns the business. After Steve’s Army tenure, he worked at Connecticut General Life Insurance Company as a supervisor of accounting units and banking services. In 1982, Connecticut General (CG) merged with Insurance Company of North America (INA) to become Cigna. In June 1988, Skaret says he was part of a company layoff that resulted from post-merger reorganization. In the ensuing months he purchased flooring equipment and began his business in October 1988 — so this past autumn marked his 35th business anniversary. • Other highlights + further info Skaret served in Vietnam for 14 months in 1970-71 — in the U.S. Army, 23rd Infantry Division, First Squadron, First Cavalry Regiment.

Research Services Nears Three Decades Research Services Simsbury Road • Avon (860) 678-0066 www.researchservicesllc.com

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screening reports across all industries for applicants of employment, volunteer and contracted positions — accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association. • Why the founder decided to start the business Gail Appell began Research Services in October 1996 because she understood the value of knowing who you hire — her background was in banking and sales. She served as the founding president until her death in April 2018, and then her four sons took the reins of the business to carry on her legacy. Her son Bruce Appell is the chief of the Avon Volunteer Fire Department and the fire marshal and emergency manager for the town of Avon. • Other highlights + further info Important features of the company — according to Research Services assistant manager Heather Farrell: • Minimum number of searches not required — “Some of our competitors require a certain amount of reports, and will not work with companies looking to run one or two.”

• Year launched — 1996 • Summary of goods + services Research Services provides background 14

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• Connecticut criminal search provides records from the late 1980s — “Our system of research provides validation for records that may have typos in the name and or date of birth. Most consumer reporting agencies search only the name(s) as they appear and miss records that contain clerical errors. This could mean the difference between missing or including felony records.” • Companies that process fingerprints can benefit big-time — “Fingerprint reports may only include the state [where] the applicant is located, and we can provide reports from all of the other states. Additionally, not all crimes require fingerprints, which means an applicant may have a record not included in their fingerprint report, which we would include in our reports.” • Local + international — “Though we are a small and local company, we can process criminal reports for not only all of the United States, but out-of-country searches as well.”

Barbershop Aims For Top-Notch Styles Up Top Barbershop • Owner — Bryan Doerr Farms Village Road • West Simsbury (860) 658-4499 Facebook + Instagram — Up Top Barbershop CT • Year launched — 2018 • Summary of goods + services Hair styling for both men and women, plus a variety of services that many barbershops don’t offer — hot-towel shaves, facial exfoliating, hair designs,


Live Your Best Life Celebrates 5 Years eyebrow waxing, beard grooming, men’s and women’s hair coloring • Why he decided to start the business Bryan Doerr and Josh Bodian established Up Top Barbershop in January 2018. Josh had owned a barbershop in Enfield for more than a decade and Bryan worked as a barber for 10 years before stepping into an ownership role at Up Top. Bryan became the sole owner in late 2021. • Other highlights + further info The business opened with four barbers and today has grown to a seven-chair barbershop, including Bryan, who says seven barbers is the maximum the Up Top space can handle. He is a graduate of Burlington-based Lewis Mills High School.

Live Your Best Life for You • Owner — Dionne Nicholls-Germain Riley Road • Simsbury (718) 744-4409 www.liveyourbestlifeforyou.com • Year launched — 2018 • Summary of goods + services As a professionally trained life and leadership coach, Dionne NichollsGermain has logged hundreds of coaching hours in seeking to help executives and entrepreneurs unleash their full potential. She speaks of her journey as “a testament to the power of reinvention.” Live Your Best Life for You is designed to be a hub for personal development, leadership training and transformative speaking. Author of “The 90-Day Conquering Unforgiveness Journal for HighPerforming High Achievers” and mastermind of the Conquering

Dionne Nicholls-Germain

Unforgiveness program, Dionne aims to help people break free from anger and resentment so they can reclaim power, joy and peace while fostering deeper and more fulfilling relationships. • Why she decided to start the business Leaving a 20-year corporate career as a single mom at age 40, Dionne founded Live Your Best Life for You in September 2018 “because I believed there was more I was called to do” — so she celebrated her 5th

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business anniversary this past autumn. “Believing that anyone at any age at any stage can reinvent their life, I have been on a mission to guide others through their unique transformational paths,” Dionne says. “Forgiveness led the way. After my son’s father and I navigated betrayal, heartache and a tumultuous past to redefine our connection as co-parents, I truly understood the transformation of forgiveness. … Forgiveness also brought me to reconnect with my estranged father and create a joyous life with a new husband, the love of my life.” She adds: “Imagine a world where forgiveness is a daily practice, offering healing, strength and purpose.” • Other highlights + further info Dionne has been featured in Forbes Magazine, is a recurring guest on the Negotiate Anything podcast, and has been a featured speaker for the PayPal Headquarters Black Love & Economics Event 2023 and the Hostos College Family Empowerment Program 2023 graduation.

Harris Home Expands Vision Harris Home Improvement Harris Home Builders • Owner — Seth Harris Granby CT (860) 817-7191 www.harrishomeimprovement.net www.harrishomebuilders.com • Year launched — 2018 • Summary of goods + services Home improvement specialists — kitchens, bathrooms, basements, remodeling, roofing, siding, painting, tiling, decks and additions. Located in Granby and serve most of Hartford County in Connecticut and part of Hampden County in Massachusetts — launched Harris Home Builders in 2023 to help people build their dream homes.

• Why she decided to start NEBT To create innovative new ballet, give artists artistic freedom in their creative process, and champion dance in the New England region. “We are passionate about pushing the art form forward,” says Rachael Gnatowski. Harris Painting. His dedication to providing high-quality craftsmanship and ensuring customer satisfaction kept him in business for more than 30 years. Seth started working for his father in 2012 and launched Harris Home Improvement in 2018. “At first I started [my company] because I was good at it and knew how to do it and needed to make money,” Seth says. “But now it’s become a way in which I can serve my community by providing quality service, convenience and peace of mind in a world where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find such things.”

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Gnatowski and Emily Orzada co-founded New England Ballet Theatre in January 2020 to bring highquality dance performances to local communities throughout New England. NEBT moved to Avon in June 2023. NEBT has performed at the Wadsworth Atheneum and the Theater of the Performing Arts in Hartford.

Design Shop Leverages 3D Print

• Other highlights + further info Slogan — “Because You Deserve a Beautiful Home”

Ballet Company Seeks To Innovate New England Ballet Theatre • Founder & Executive Director — Rachael Gnatowski Avon CT (860) 255-7767 www.neballettheatre.com • Year launched — 2020 • Summary of classes + programs Pre-professional ballet training • Mommy & Me class • Creative Movement • Recreational classes: tap, jazz, contemporary, Pilates • Adult Ballet and Pilates.

virtualens Designs • Owner — Kevin Ryan Simsbury CT (860) 348-6902 www.virtualens.art • Year launched — 2022 • Summary of goods + services Illuminated art sculptures using 3D print technology. • Why he decided to start the business Kevin Ryan established virtualens Designs in September 2022 when he purchased a 3D print machine.

• Why he decided to start the business Seth Harris’ father, David Harris, began working as a professional painter when he was just 18 years old. At 20 he established his own company, David

• Other highlights + further info

Rachael Gnatowski

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“I enjoy creating works of art in a new medium where art and technology come together,” he says. “I hope my artwork and the studio will inspire children to pursue 3D print technology as a career.”


This technology has numerous design applications — including automotive, engineering, home construction, jewelry and the medical realm. “The future of 3D print technology is exciting and unstoppable,” Kevin says.

After Two Decades, Salon Takes Baton

In/Style Hair Salon • Owner — Lori Dimauro Canton — Shops at Farmington Valley (860) 693-8909 www.instylehairsalon.us • Year launched — 2023 • Summary of goods + services Haircuts, hair coloring, highlights, perms and waxing.

• Why she decided to start the business Rachel Flahive worked for 10 years as a general manager at Homewood Suites and front-office manager at Hampton Inn before having her first child. At that juncture, she says, “I wanted something with a more flexible schedule that would allow me to work while still enjoying quality time with my family — as a virtual assistant I am able to use skills I gained from my years in hospitality management to assist other businesses.” She began her VA business in September 2023.

• Why she decided to start the business The In/Style location was a Cost Cutters salon for nearly two decades — Cost Cutters opened at The Shops in November 2004. Lori Dimauro served as the manager for 19 years and took over the business in May 2023, rebranding it as In/Style Hair Salon. The formal grand opening occurred in October 2023. After the rebrand, all of the Cost Cutters employees chose to stay with In/Style. • Other highlights + further info In/Style is based in Canton at The Shops at Farmington Valley, the openair retail plaza on Route 44 aka Albany Turnpike.

Real-World Help From Virtual Assistant Rachel Flahive Virtual Assistant & Office Manager Granby CT www.rachelflahive.com • Year launched — 2023 • Summary of goods + services Virtual assistant services for businesses and entrepreneurs — Customer service tasks: responding to inquiries, main-

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taining databases and info, following up on quotes — Billing and bookkeeping tasks: sending invoices, keeping track of expenses, paying bills — Adminrelated tasks: inbox and calendar and travel management, expense reports, event planning.

Odalys Bekanich

Odalys Bekanich, a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker, has been recognized for her stellar sales work. She has achieved sales in the top 1% nationwide and the top 5% worldwide for Coldwell. Based in Avon, Bekanich has also received the following honors: International President’s Circle, Five Star Professional and Google & Homesnap Award winner. Before entering the real estate world, Bekanich enjoyed a successful career as a police officer in New Britain, where she implemented the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program — aka D.A.R.E.

Rachel Flahive

• Other highlights + further info As a VA, Rachel works remotely from her home office — for 1-2 hours a week up to 20 hours, or on a project basis, depending on a client’s needs.

She has received a Society of Professional Journalists award for a Today Magazine article she wrote about her family’s journey to Greater Hartford and her career journey. +

A growing company that needs help, but not enough to warrant hiring a full-time employee, can hire a virtual assistant only when needed — such as during a busy season. When the pace slows down, the company doesn’t have to find work for a full-timer.

Benefit Helps Mary’s Place

(860) 676-1200 www.odalyssalesteam.com CLICK HERE — Bekanich’s award-winning story ————————————— From Cuba to Connecticut: Immigrant’s Journey Leads to Diverse Career Path

in 1996. Mary’s Place seeks to provide hope and healing for area youth who have A local nonprofit that supports children suffered the death of a parent, sibling or mourning a death has received $50,000 another loved one. The organization does via its largest fundraiser. not charge for its services and receives no The annual Vineyard Mingle event at state or federal funds, relying instead on Rosedale Farms & Vineyards in Simsbury donations and fundraising. benefits Mary’s Place: A Center for GrievOver 100 people attended the Vineyard ing Children & Families. Avon resident John Carmon, president of Carmon Funer- Mingle last year, featuring delicious cuisine TODAY FEBRUARY 2024 17 provided by Max– Hospitality. al Homes, helped establish the MAGAZINE nonprofit– www.TodayPublishing.net


Photo provided by Archaeological and Historical Services, Storrs CT

Unearthing History: The Discovery of a 12,500 year old Paleo-Indian Site Along the Farmington River in Avon, CT 2024 series sponsored by a grant from

MARCH 7

The History of Native American Archaeology in Connecticut, presented by Nicholas Bellantoni, emeritus state archaeologist with the UCONN State Museum of Natural History and adjunct associate research professor in the Department of Anthropology. He will take the audience through the history of archaeology in CT bringing it up to present day with new discoveries and the process during the work at the Brian D. Jones Site.

APRIL 11

MAY 9

Bioarchaeology in North America: Ethics, Issues and Where the Field Stands in 2024, presented by Alex Garcia-Putnam, PhD, University of New Hampshire. He will talk about the field, basics of bioarchaeology, the lack of skeletal remains found in the United States and some of the reasons for, and implications of, that lack of data.

Foraging in the Paleoindian Period: A Macrobotanical Analysis (tentative title), presented by Katharine Reinhart, Project Archaeologist/Botanical Analyst, Archaeological and Historical Services, Inc, Storrs, CT. She will focus on the analysis of plant evidence from various sites to learn what they ate and where they found it.

SEPT. (tbd) Microscopic Evidence for the Manufacture and Use of Stone Artifacts, presented by G. Logan Miller, Assoc. Prof. Anthropology, Illinois State University.

OCT. (tbd)

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Update on the Brian D. Jones site in Avon, CT since discovery in 2019 presented by the team at Archaeological and Historical Services, Storrs, CT. October is Archaeology Month in Connecticut, so this presentation will be 90 minutes with time after for Q&A. FEBRUARY 2024 – www.TodayPublishing.net – TODAY MAGAZINE

Watch the webinars from the 2021-2023 series on the Avon Library’s YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/afplct In partnership with


Avon-Canton Rotary Marks 5 Decades Special to Today Magazine

NOTEWORTHY NONPROFITS

FOR FIVE DECADES the Rotary Club of Avon-Canton has promoted the club’s motto — “Service Above Self” — and supported a plethora of organizations that benefit the Farmington Valley community and beyond. Chartered in October 1973, the Avon-Canton Rotary celebrated its 50th anniversary this past autumn at the Golf Club of Avon. The Avon-Canton Rotary began with 21 charter members and has about 60 members today. The club originally organized under the sponsorship of the Simsbury Rotary, now the Simsbury-Granby Rotary Club, which was established in 1946. The local clubs are part of Rotary International, a worldwide network of 1.4 million people in over 46,000 clubs and 150 nations who “volunteer their skills and resources to solve issues and address community needs,” according to the Rotary website. At the Avon-Canton 50th anniversary celebration, past president Robert Cave — the only remaining charter member — was recognized for his accomplishments over the years.

“ Rotary members believe that we have a shared responsibility to take action on our world’s most persistent issues ” — Rotary website He has continued as an active member in his retirement. Gary Hyde, club treasurer for 24 years, was also honored as the recipient of the Nancy Nation Award for a Lifetime of Service Above Self to the club and community. “Rotary members believe that we have a shared responsibility to take action on our world’s most persistent issues … through our fellowship of business, professional and community leaders,” says the international website. “Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change — across the globe, in our communities and in ourselves.” Highlights of the Avon-Canton club’s five decades comprise a lengthy list: establishing Dollars for Scholars, participating in Rotary’s International Youth Exchange, welcoming work study teams from other countries, sending ambulances to Estonia, providing supplies and tutors for inner-city schoolchildren, meeting the health needs of orphaned children and their families in Uganda, ringing the Salvation Army bells at holiday season, building rest shelters along the Rails-to-Trails path, and the signature support for construction of a new facility at Canton-based Favarh. The club’s many related fundraising efforts have also been numerous — from car washes and Christmas tree sales in the early years to charity golf tournaments and Tastes of the Valley events more recently.

Gary Hyde, treasurer of the Avon-Canton Rotary Club for two-plus decades, receives an award from Salin Low, chair of the club’s 50th anniversary celebration

These initiatives are noteworthy for the ongoing fellowship of Rotary members working side by side to better the community. Through such projects, Avon-Canton Rotary has been able to put hundreds of thousands of dollars to work, both locally and around the world, establishing vital partnerships with a host of people-serving enterprises. • Past president Salin Low provided the following exclusive interview on behalf of the Avon-Canton club — she is an atlarge board member and has been a club member for nearly three decades: Year established — 1973 Mission — The object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to foster and encourage: 1 — The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service. 2 — High ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society. 3 — The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business and community life. 4 — The advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service. continued on next page TODAY MAGAZINE – www.TodayPublishing.net – FEBRUARY 2024

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RUDOLPH BLUEBIRD • Is this male eastern bluebird merely snacking on a berry — or is the popular songbird auditioning for a part in the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer musical? • The eastern bluebird can be found in eastern North America — yes , the directional nomenclature makes sense — from southern Canada to the U.S. and as far south as Central America and on the Cuba and Bermuda islands too, per National Geographic • This member of the thrush family is the state bird of New York and Missouri — although this particular warbler was sighted locally in Canton

Photo by Wendy Rosenberg

Slogan — Service Above Self Most fulfilling aspect of your work? A chance to work together to help individuals and groups in our area and around the world. Your biggest obstacle and how you overcome it? Keeping people involved — we work to appeal to new members and we offer multiple opportunities for service each year. Most satisfying accomplishment? Raising and donating $150,000 to Favarh over five years. Volunteer opportunities: Nearly 60 members — about 10 service opportunities per year.

of the Valley, a wine and food-tasting event with music. Each event is an opportunity to volunteer and create a fun and profitable occasion. We also do service projects … like providing pencil boxes and supplies for Hartford schoolchildren and Hartford students attending Avon and Canton schools. How has the COVID pandemic impacted your work? We went on Zoom immediately for our weekly meetings. Attendance has slowly returned to pre-pandemic levels. We managed to adapt most of our service projects and carried on. What was your operating budget in your most recent fiscal year?

Anecdote that shows how you achieve your mission:

Revenues: approximately $150,000 — Gross Income: $67,000 — Community and International Support: approximately $50,000

Each year we have two major fundraisers — a golf outing and Tastes

How closely do you work with other agencies/nonprofits?

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FEBRUARY 2024 – www.TodayPublishing.net – TODAY MAGAZINE

Closely — a grant application must be completed each year, as well as meeting with a committee. The beneficiary organization presents a program. In a number of cases, members of the organizations work together on projects. What do you appreciate most about the Farmington Valley? There are a lot of people in the Valley who realize they have means to share generously with others — both in service and financially. Board members + officers: Seven board members overall — membership and leadership rotates each year — Luke Violette is president for 2023-24 + Rotary Club of Avon-Canton P.O. Box 11 • Avon, CT 06001 RotaryClubofAvonCanton@gmail.com Facebook: Rotary Club of Avon-Canton www.rotaryclubofavon-canton.org


TODAY MAGAZINE – www.TodayPublishing.net – FEBRUARY 2024

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ADVERTISER Directory – TODAY Magazine Long-Term Advertisers – Alphabetical Order by Category Barbershop

Funeral Home www.carmonfuneralhome.com

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

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860.653.6637

301 Country Club Road

364 Salmon Brook Street

We offer complete cremation services at

FARMINGTON VALLEY CREMATORY The only on-site crematory in the Farmington Valley The Vincent Family caring for yours for over a Century, since 1902 880 Hopmeadow St. Simsbury, CT 06070 (860) 658-7613

120 Albany Turnpike Canton, CT 06019 (860) 693-0251

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TODAY MAGAZINE – www.TodayPublishing.net – FEBRUARY 2024

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For over 45 years, we’ve provided a safe and caring environment for residents to maintain an optimal quality of life! D Short-term rehabilitation D Long-term care D Post-acute & transitional care D Respite care

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avonhealthcenter.com

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1/4 PAGE AD 4.9” wide x 3.65” high Insurance

1/8 PAGE AD

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Paint & Wallpaper

Pianos

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FEBRUARY 2024 – www.TodayPublishing.net – TODAY MAGAZINE


Physical Therapy

Septic Systems

Magna Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Center LLC

Emergency Service 24/7 Chris & Bryan 1983

Book Your Appointment Today!

860.679.0430

www.ChristopherBryantCompany.com

CELEBRATING

AVON • CANTON www.magnapt.com

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Ask your neighbors about us!

YEARS

 Family Owned & Operated Since 1983  Professional & Knowledgeable  Fully Licensed & Insured

Sports Medicine | Orthopedics | Dance Medicine | Pilates Neurological Care | Post-Operative Care | Personal Training Vestibular Care | Massage Therapy | Dry Needling

(860) 243-3500

Proud Member of CT License #HIC0559131

SEPTIC CLEANINGS * INSTALLATIONS & REPAIRS * PUMP CHAMBERS VIDEO INSPECTIONS * SEWER CONNECTIONS * EXCAVATION & DRAINAGE

Real Estate ODALYS BEKANICH Associate Broker

Five Star Professional Award-Winning Real Estate Agent

860-965-3652 • CELL 860-676-1200 • OFFICE odalys.bekanich@cbmoves.com 290 West Main Street Avon, CT 06001 Operated by a subsidiary of NRT LLC 860-674-0300 860-693-2876 Office 860-593-9826 Cell 860-676-1400 Fax juilusandgail@cbmoves.com

JULIUS FIALKIEWICZ Associate Broker

290 West Main Street Avon, CT 06001

GAIL FIALKIEWICZ Realtor®

ColdwellBankerHomes.com Operated by a subsidiary of NRT LLC

TODAY MAGAZINE – www.TodayPublishing.net – FEBRUARY 2024

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ADVERTISER Hall of Fame – TODAY Magazine • These advertising sponsors have seen the value of investing in Today Magazine’s award-winning journalism as we cover the heart of the Farmington Valley and aim to record the Valley’s underreported upside • • If you have paid for a recurring advertisement with Today Magazine but don’t see your business or organization listed, send an email so you can be added to our Advertiser Hall of Fame — advertise@todaypublishing.net • Anthology Senior Living — 860-546-8037 — Simsbury www.anthologyseniorliving.com > Location ——————————————————————————————— Avon Health Center — 860-673-2521 — Avon www.avonhealthcenter.com ——————————————————————————————— Avon Historical Society — 860-678-7621 — Avon www.avonhistoricalsociety.org ——————————————————————————————— A Teen Edge — 860-593-2822 www.ateenedge.com ——————————————————————————————— Board and Brush — 860-392-8567 — Simsbury www.boardandbrush.com/simsbury ——————————————————————————————— Canton Barn LLC — 860-693-0601 — Canton www.cantonbarn.com ——————————————————————————————— Canton Food Bank — 860-693-5811 — Canton www.townofcantonct.org ——————————————————————————————— Carmon Funeral Homes — 860-673-8610 www.carmonfuneralhome.com ——————————————————————————————— Carol Cole Real Estate — 860-212-0687 — Canton www.carolcolerealestate.com ——————————————————————————————— Cherry Brook Health Care Center — 860-693-7777 — Canton www.cherrybrookhcc.com ——————————————————————————————— Christensen Insurance — 860-651-8236 — Simsbury www.insuranceagentswhocare.com ——————————————————————————————— Christopher Bryant Co. — 860-243-3500 — Bloomfield www.thechristopherbryantcompany.com ——————————————————————————————— Collinsville Bank — 860-693-6935 — Canton www.collinsvillebank.com ——————————————————————————————— Connecticut Dance Academy — 860-707-4198 — Canton www.ctdanceacademy.com ——————————————————————————————— Connecticut Headshots — 860-263-9277 — Avon www.connecticutheadshots.com ——————————————————————————————— Dynamic Auto Works — 860-693-6359 — Canton www.facebook.com/DynamicAutoCanton ——————————————————————————————— Erica Maglieri: Realtor — 860-324-6842 bhhsneproperties.com/real-estate-agent/757/erica-maglieri ——————————————————————————————— Fresh Start Pallet Products — 860-266-5726 — Hartford www.freshstartpalletproducts.org 28

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——————————————————————————————— Granby-Simsbury Chamber of Commerce — 860-651-7307 www.simsburycoc.org ——————————————————————————————— Green Door Restaurant — 860-693-9762 — Canton www.41bridgestreet.com ——————————————————————————————— Habitat for Humanity — 860-541-2208 — Hartford www.hfhncc.org ——————————————————————————————— Harris Home Improvement — 860-817-7191 — Granby www.harrishomeimprovement.net ——————————————————————————————— Hartford Symphony Orchestra — 860-246-8742 — Hartford www.hartfordsymphony.org ——————————————————————————————— HealthMarkets Insurance — 860-307-1128 — Torrington www.healthmarkets.com — Mel Brickman ——————————————————————————————— Hulme & Sweeney Pianos — 860-408-4895 — Simsbury www.hulmesweeneypianoservice.com ——————————————————————————————— Karedigs.com — 860-379-4340 — Barkhamsted www.karedigs.com ——————————————————————————————— Kerian Home Health Care — 860-851-6267 — Simsbury www.keriancares.com ——————————————————————————————— Kevin Witkos: State Senator ——————————————————————————————— Landscape Solutions — 860-329-2014 — New Hartford www.landscapesolutionsct.com ——————————————————————————————— Leslee Hill for State Representative ——————————————————————————————— Lifetime Family Dentistry — 860-605-2075 — Collinsville www.lifetimefamilydentistryct.com ——————————————————————————————— Linda Kessler: Realtor — 860-836-6172 — Avon www.coldwellbankerhomes.com > Agents ——————————————————————————————— Liza Sivek Marketing — 203-278-5492 www.lizasivekmarketing.com ——————————————————————————————— Maglieri Construction — 860-242-0298 — Bloomfield www.maglieri-construction.com ——————————————————————————————— Magna Physical Therapy — 860-679-0430 — Avon www.magnapt.com ——————————————————————————————— Maher’s Paint & Wallpaper — 860-678-1200 — Avon + Simsbury www.maherspaintandwallpaper.com ———————————————————————————————


Make It GF — 860-693-1300 — Canton www.makeitgf.com ——————————————————————————————— Mandel Vilar Press — 806-790-4731 — Simsbury www.mvpublishers.org ——————————————————————————————— Massage Envy — 860-693-8000 — Canton www.massageenvy.com > Locations ——————————————————————————————— The Master’s School — 860-651-9361 — West Simsbury www.masterschool.org ——————————————————————————————— McLean — 860-658-3786 — Simsbury www.mcleancare.org ——————————————————————————————— Nails of Envy — formerly Canton + Avon ——————————————————————————————— Northwest Community Bank — 860-379-7561 www.nwcommunitybank.com ——————————————————————————————— Odalys Bekanich: Realtor — 860-965-3652 — Avon www.coldwellbankerhomes.com > Agents ——————————————————————————————— Peggy’s Personalized Promos — 860-379-7775 — New Hartford www.peggys.biz ——————————————————————————————— Planning Partners LLC — 860-693-9916 — Canton www.planningpartner.com ——————————————————————————————— Raimie Weber Jewelry — 860-409-3400 — Avon www.rweberjewelry.com ——————————————————————————————— Randy Brolo: Book Author www.lulu.com > Spirit of Delilah ——————————————————————————————— Ravenswood Natural Health — 860-264-1587 — Simsbury www.ravenswoodnaturalhealth.com ——————————————————————————————— Red Bison General Contractor — 860-810-8581 — Hartford

——————————————————————————————— Up Top Barbershop — 860-658-4499 — Simsbury www.booksy.com > Up Top Barbershop ——————————————————————————————— Vincent Funeral Homes — 860-693-0251 www.vincentfuneralhome.com ——————————————————————————————— Vincent Tully: Realtor — 860-214-3030 www.coldwellbankerhomes.com > Agent ——————————————————————————————— Welden Hardware — 860-658-4078 — Simsbury www.weldenhardware.com ——————————————————————————————— William Raveis — 860-693-2987 — Avon www.raveis.com/agentfind.asp?smart=1 ——————————————————————————————— The Village for Families & Children — 860-236-4511 — Hartford www.thevillage.org/second-chance-shops ——————————————————————————————— virtualens Designs — 860-348-6902 — Simsbury www.virtualens.art ———————————————————————————————

www.nextdoor.com/pages/red-bison-general-contractor-llc-hartford-ct

——————————————————————————————— Richman Business Brokerage — 860-408-9177 — Simsbury www.richmanbusiness.com — formerly The Deal Team ——————————————————————————————— Stone Man Masonry — 860-693-4637 — Canton www.facebook.com/StoneManMasonryCT ——————————————————————————————— Suburban Sanitation Service — 860-673-3078 — Canton www.subsanserv.com ——————————————————————————————— Tom Kutz Photography — 860-693-6254 — Canton www.tomkutzphoto.com ——————————————————————————————— Trading Post — 860-693-4679 — Canton www.tradingpostmusic.com ——————————————————————————————— Transition Fitness Center — 860-398-1449 — Canton www.transition-fitness-center.business.site ——————————————————————————————— UConn Health — 860-658-8750 www.health.uconn.edu TODAY MAGAZINE – www.TodayPublishing.net – FEBRUARY 2024

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