The art and heart of community engagement

by David Radcliffe

CPTV New Video Series: Making the Future and Getting to Work

Connecticut Offers "New Collar" Careers for Industrious Youth

There is a wide gap between the skill sets needed in today’s manufacturing, tech and healthcare industries and the number of well-trained people ready and eager to step into these jobs. Connecticut high school students considering their futures may not be aware of the full range of opportunities and choices available to them — or the possibilities to lead financially successful, satisfying lives that these careers can provide.  

 Training is key, but the traditional 4-year college degree is not necessarily the only path.

With the help of our generous supporters, Connecticut Public is telling these stories of up-and-coming young talent in our new video series, Making the Future and Getting to Work. And hear from local experts in the original program, Life Lessons: New Collar Jobs. 

The Middletown Press | Press Release

Middletown WORKS projects turn ‘me first’ concept on its head

By Rebecca Lemanski

Published 12:59 pm EDT, Friday, April 12, 2019

What do flower pots and foster parents have to do with each other? Well apparently, when you bring together people from various backgrounds and diverse perspectives, unlikely things happen.

This unlikely combination emerged after our first Middletown WORKS Community Café in January. During these events, community residents, staff from nonprofit agencies, business owners and parents gather together to talk, share food and participate in unique activities, such as a “marketplace.”

During a marketplace, community members have an opportunity to state their name and make an offer, a request, a declaration or simply pass.

In January, members offered things like clothing, art supplies and handmade slippers. Others made requests such as, “If anyone is able to offer me a ride to the grocery store this Saturday, please let me know,” and “I’m looking for new flower pots — mine are broken,” and “We are looking for foster parents in the Middletown/Middlesex area, so if you know of anyone, please let me know!”

After sharing this story at a team meeting, one of our partners shouted, “from flower pots to foster parents!”

Creating intentional space(s) where people can be themselves, and gather with others they may not normally see on a regular basis allows for these unlikely ideas to emerge.

Our culture is highly individualized — placing a huge focus on self-expression and self-interest, with little regard for the collective whole.

How many times have you heard the phrase: “Just do you.” Middletown WORKS is working to change that.

We intentionally put relationships first. In the words of David Brooks, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, “Culture changes when a small group of people, often on the margins of society, find a better way to live, and other people begin to copy them. We need to create hubs where these decentralized networks can come together for solidarity and support,” Feb. 18, “A Nation of Weavers”.

For the past six months, we have been working diligently to create hubs for people to come together to dialogue across differences, and connect with others in our neighborhood. Along with offering a monthly café, we have also been offering monthly conversation circles.

These are more intimate and take place on the third Thursday of the month from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Family Wellness Center, 635 Main St. We welcome anyone who cares about single-parent families in Middletown to join us for conversation and light refreshments. The next one will be held Thursday. We’d love to see you there.

Our next Community Café is April 29 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Middletown Roller Skating Rink on Main Street. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you experience!

As Middletown WORKS expands, we are looking to grow not only good ideas, but also our social network. All individuals and businesses who would like to make a difference for Middletown’s single-parent families are invited.

To get involved, visit or call 860-975-5405.

The Middletown Press
The Middletown Press

Public Cost of Low-Wage Work in New England


The economic recovery has not affected all workers equally, and many workers rely on public assistance. Wage growth both nationally and in New England was mainly concentrated at the top of the economic spectrum, with those in the middle seeing small real-wage increases. While increases in the minimum wage raised wages for those at the bottom, wage levels still do not allow many families to reach economic self-sufficiency.

This brief analyses the utilization of public assistance and health programs by low-wage workers in New England. We find that despite some increases in wages for the bottom 10 percent, working families in New England still account for the majority of those enrolled in public health and assistance programs. Public programs continue to provide vital support to millions of working families in the region. Policies that raise wages would have the dual benefit of directly improving conditions for many working families and freeing up some of those public resources to better target those Americans who cannot participate in the labor market.

Learn More

For many families, wage growth has not been

strong enough to allow them to meet their basic needs. Second, a rise in the minimum

wage can increase wages for the lowest-earning workers, but past increases have not

been enough to allow workers to make ends meet without public healthcare and

assistance programs.