The year 2013 was a tough one for the Hartford community—three young people died by suicide. One positive thing to come out of such tragedy was the creation of Hartford Community Coalition (HCC).
Nearly 25 local agencies came together to find ways to support families, promote mental health in teens, and address stressors such as alcohol and drug use and food insecurity in the community. The goal was to help Hartford residents be safe, healthy, and resilient.
In 2018, Hartford Community Coalition achieved nonprofit status so it could access more resources and provide more extensive programming in support of families and individuals. One of those programs, called Getting to Y, asks middle and high school students to identify their own strengths and concerns as they grow up in the Hartford School District. This evidence-based program encourages kids bring meaning to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey they take every two years, and has been instrumental in addressing specific concerns and developing meaningful change for young people in the community.
“Getting to Y is a great program that provides tangible change for students and families,” says Kelly Clements, Program Director at HCC. “We are able to identify and remove pain points for the sake of our children’s mental health and well-being. We really do see a difference.” For example, HCC recently upgraded the bathrooms in the Hartford School District after learning kids needed a more comfortable space for breaks during the day.
To tackle food insecurity, Take a Bite Out of Hunger is a program hosted by Hartford Community Coalition that provides free meals for children and families throughout the summer. In summer 2021, Take a Bite Out of Hunger distributed 17,827 meals to the Hartford community, along with 5,619 additional meals going to various housing locations in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
HCC also holds summer movie nights at Lyman Point Park in Hartford to encourage camaraderie and community during the summer months, when young people and families might be missing the social connections that happen naturally during the school year.
“Mascoma Bank has helped so much with our efforts,” says Clements. “They’ve been especially generous with their support for our Take a Bite Out of Hunger program.” Not only does Mascoma Bank make monetary donations to Hartford Community Coalition programming, many bank employees also volunteer with HCC to pack meals and provide snack packs.
Mascoma Bank and Hartford Community Coalition share a common goal of improving the mental health and well-being of young people, and see practical support of both families and individuals as key to helping community members build resilience and form positive foundations that will lead to future success.
Don’t miss a summer movie night with Hartford Community Coalition!