PLAINVILLE – It is always a good time to care for the community for Briana Brumaghim, but it is even better when she can do it for the United Way of West Central Connecticut’s Day of Caring event Friday.
“I always enjoy being a part of something that helps people, especially when it’s outside,” said Brumaghim, a Plymouth volunteer who already had her hands in the dirt, planting new flowers at Plainville’s Chrysalis Center. “United Way gives a lot back to the community and if I can help, I always will.”
United Way of West Central Connecticut serves the communities of Bristol, Burlington, Plainville and Plymouth. This is their 29th Day of Caring and the organization is excited to be able to reopen the event after having to cancel last year due to the pandemic. There were 19 sites throughout the service communities where about 200 volunteers rolled up their sleeves and worked on different projects.
“A lot of organizations had to shut down because of the pandemic, but we never have. We’ve had a lot of volunteers do virtual events so it’s great that we can bring them back out again,” said Judi Ann Lausier, United Way’s resource development coordinator. “It’s really good to see that our volunteers still want to help and it’s really important for the community to see them out and about, helping each other.”
For Day of Caring, a Michaela’s Garden Project was planned for the Chrysalis Center, where volunteers came in to help create the floral space right outside the building. The garden project is a part of the Petit Family Foundation, in honor and memory of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley and Michaela.
Original seeds from Michaela’s favorite Four O’ Clock flowers were removed from the family’s garden in Cheshire and planted in many gardens throughout the state, including Hartford, Bristol, New Britain and Berlin.
“When I heard that the project was for Michaela’s Garden, I knew I wanted to help,” Brumaghim said. “It’s so close and connected to the local community, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
To bring a sense of beauty and hope was important for the Chrysalis Center, a nonprofit organization that helps with the planning, developing and monitoring of care to ensure clients’ needs are met, including those who struggle with poverty and mental illness. The center provides best practice support services to help people get back on their feet.
It is especially good for the people to see that the community cares about them, said Adria Giordano, director of Development and Communications for the Chrysalis Center. “There’s still a lot of stigma around being homeless or having mental illness, so we want to help break down that barrier and show that we’re all just human beings.”
She hopes the flowers will also lift the clients’ spirits. “They will be helping with the maintenance of the garden,” Giordano said. “I think for them to be able to see the fruits of their labor happen right before their eyes would be a positive impact.”
For Nancy Sherman, a longtime volunteer, she believed in both the mission of the Chrysalis Center and the Petit Family Foundation.
“It’s very exciting to start a Michaela’s Garden here because I think it will help the clients here feel good when they see beautiful flowers here,” she said. “Especially with the pandemic, everyone has struggled and it’s important for those who can to come out and help, because we need to help each other now more than ever.”