Friday, March 27, 2015

Easter Flowers to Please Those You Love

As Easter fast approaches, tie a string around your finger to remember the thoughtfulness and beauty of a gift of flowers or a plant for someone dear to you: family, friends, perhaps a shut-in who would be lifted in spirit by such a gesture.

The Southington Knights of Columbus, Isabella Council 15 will stage a flower sale manned by all volunteers on Friday, April 3rd  and Saturday April 4th from 9 am to 6 pm and Easter Sunday, April 5th, from 8 am to 2 pm.  All proceeds go to Knights of Columbus charities, locally.

Two sites this year -
In Southington at 1032 Meriden‐Waterbury Turnpike, across from the Southington Drive.
Or, in Cheshire at 1495 Highland Ave. 

An amazing assortment of flowers and plants will be offered including lilies, daffodils, tulips, hydrangea, hyacinths, potted plants, hanging baskets and more. 


The Knights of Columbus Isabella Council 15 of
Southington wish you all a Happy Easter season. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Woman embraces the joy of life

After the publication of my weekly Appleseed column in the Southington Citizen yesterday, I received a couple of calls and ran across a few people in town who told me that they were quite moved by the story. This morning, by noon, I was flooded with Facebook messages about it and saw that the story had gone viral. How could I resist the idea then of posting it on Southington Heartbeat. Here it is.  

I met the Brouillard family around 1995. I‘d see Moe, (Maurice), Brouillard on Sundays in a wheelchair next to a front pew where his wife, Margaret and their two daughters, Pamela and Donna, were seated. They’d join others after Mass at St. Dominic, for a coffee, donut and light and lively conversation. Margaret, a dedicated volunteer, was always generous, never allowing herself to be held back by the burden of multiple sclerosis. Neither did Moe ever let cerebral palsy hold him back as an active member of the parish family. 

Pam was the big sister. She ‘looked out’ for Donna, her junior by three years. In college, Pam remained focused on doing things with her family, especially with Donna who since birth had been denied the gift of clear and facile speech.  Their love of children was obvious.  At annual parish picnics, the girls were our faithful face-painters, amusing little ones with fun and laughter. They were an exemplary family who never let their modest circumstances and physical barriers deter their enjoyment to the fullest of community life, just loving being with others.  

In 1997, a new pastor joined us: Fr. Henry C. Frascadore. We launched a parish communications ministry with a monthly parish newsletter, The Parish Pad.  Volunteer writers and staff got it off the ground. It was just the first in a series of many small steps in bringing about closer ties within the parish family and ultimately became the forerunner of some forty-two ministries manned by hundreds of proactive lay volunteers.  The Brouillard family was among them.  One day in 1999, Donna Brouillard approached me with a story she had written about her recently deceased grandfather.  I read it. Amazed at the poignancy of her simply expressed emotions, we published her story. Many loved it, particularly those who knew Donna. Thus validated, Donna continued to write occasional bright and uplifting stories for The Parish Pad.  In 2004, Pam and Donna ’s mom, Margaret, died at the age of 59. In the ensuing years, we stayed in touch, many of us witnessing the deeply rooted spiritual stamina of these two young ladies tenaciously hanging on to the joys of life. Their friendships blossomed. In 2013, Moe Brouillard died at the age of 75. Mourning again, the girls continued to be who they had become, model young women of courage, independent, yet tied as sisters more closely than ever.

Fast forward to January 5, 2015 when I eyed a Facebook post of Donna - I had not seen or heard from Pam or Donna in several months. Opening it, this is what I read:

"This holiday season, I've been reflecting upon what has been the greatest Christmas I've ever had. Was it the year I received that very first bike that introduced me to the love of bicycling, was it the one when I got the giant brown teddy bear that caused me to reconsider the existence of Santa Claus, or was it the handsome little wooden nutcracker that reminded me so much my Cousins Esther and Nick's nutcracker collection that I loved so much as a child? Then I discovered that it wasn't any of those; instead it was the very special gift that I received long before the sunrise on Christmas Day from so many among my family and friends whose love has blessed me throughout my life, especially during my sister's final months. They have given me this great affection through hugs, comforting words, visits, phone calls, outings, e-mails, lots of food, and many Facebook messages. I would like to thank you all for making what might have been the worst Christmas of my life a much more favorable one. Happy Holidays everyone." - Donna Brouillard. 

My thoughts in disarray and shock, my heart sunk. Pam had died. She passed on December 9, 2014 after several months in a fatal battle with Type I diabetes. Shortly after reading her FaceBook post, I called Donna. We had lunch together. We reminisced. But we looked ahead to renewed friendship.  She was still hurting but not allowing herself the option of stepping back from the pursuit of the joy of life.

Donna continues to ride her bike to work at Stop & Shop at the checkout. In terrible winter conditions, when pedaling is unsafe, she bundles up and walks. “I don’t drive, but I’m an excellent pedestrian”, she says. Donna’s has a broad array of interests:  drawing,  music, “classical and all genres,” and she enjoys novels, romance and adventure,  a good movie, loves knitting and spends time on Facebook where her words allow her to communicate readily. Donna’s way with words are a wonderful expression of the simple beauty in the ordinary, everyday life she experiences.  Donna revels in her time with friends and family. Facebook, then, is a great door to the world outside her apartment and a place where her thoughts easily flow with the joy of life that is in her heart.  
Donna quotes Stephen Hawking: 

"My advice to other disabled people would be to concentrate on things your disability doesn't prevent you doing well, and don't regret the things it interferes with. Don't be disabled in spirit as well as physically."

Sunday, March 15, 2015

SEF Spelling Bee Challenges the Community - April 30, 2015

The Southington Education Foundation is conducting its 5th Annual Spelling Bee on Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 7:00 pm in the Southington High School Auditorium. This spelling challenge is part of SEF's vision of instilling the love of learning.

About the event: 
  • Teams will consist of three spellers. 
  • Costumes, themes and mascots are encouraged to add color and spirit to the competitive pursuit of excellence.
  • The excitement and anticipation of a spelling bee raises awareness to the value and pride and importance 
  • Entry fees: $100 pp, ($300 per team), are fully tax deductible. 
  • Admission is free. SEF asks that attendees bring a nonperishable food item as a donation to Southington Community Services.
  • Proceeds will be used to help foster educational excellence for our town’s public school children.
Get started promptly. Organizing a team today.

Entry forms are available online at 

Non-participants who would like to support the Spelling Bee may mail a gift check to Southington Education Foundation, PO Box 42. Southington, CT 06489. 

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The above announcement is excerpted from my weekly column in Appleseed in the Friday, March 13, 2015 edition of The Southington Citizen. Watch for a more complete story about the wonderful people and important work of Southington Education Foundation coming soon in Appleseed and Southington Heartbeat.  

Dick Fortunato’s stories and comments are focused on the community service, faith and values of real people. Fortunato welcomes comments at

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Southington H.S. Cyber Knights Revamps Police Robot

The Southington H.S. Cyber Knights robotics team were recently contacted by the Southington Police Department to help them repair and update the robot bought by the SPD through a grant received seven years ago. The robot, called Doberman, is used in police Bristol and Plainville Police Departments in 2-way communications and has the ability to relay videos. The SHS Cyber Knights Robotics Team took on the project installing a new microphone, new speakers, a camera and made the necessary programming installations. The Cyber Knights Team also added brackets and hooks to carry small items. This story would have been called science fiction a few generations ago but now it’s just another day at SHS.      

Should Connecticut exempt 100% of Retired Military Pay?

Bill 520 was unanimously moved forward in the long legislative process of enactment by the Veterans Affairs Committee in January. The passage of the bill by the Connecticut General Assembly, simply put, would extend the state tax exemption of retired military pay from 50% to 100%.  Before it reaches a CGA vote, the bill will go through a rigorous series of steps of review, evaluation and analysis of the proposed legislation including cost effect and budgetary impact. 

In the view of many, including non-career veterans, career military service is a special calling. Although military service is freely chosen by the individual, there is a nobility in military service as it essentially is the guardian force that guarantees and protects our nation and the freedom of its citizens. Those in military service know the risks they are taking and have nevertheless signed up with the highest stakes, including life and limb, accepted. 

Exemptions and partial exemptions from income tax of certain groups in our country are not a new concept. Staged exemption of social security benefits are just one illustration. 

I have read Bill 520 for myself but there is wisdom, in my opinion, in a legislative process that carefully weighs all the factors in any legislation, such as the general welfare, safety, protection and other needs of all citizens, judiciously balanced with legal and financial impact on the state and its taxpayers. This is how policy-making should take place. 

An advocacy group named STORM, (Stop Taxing Our Retired Military), is gaining the support of veterans and citizens in Connecticut who share their belief that the retirement pay of career service military should be fully exempt from state income tax.  STORM asks citizens to support this legislation with an email to

Citizens may also contact their elected state representatives for information, questions and to voice their position on this or any other legislation. 

For your convenience, Southington Heartbeat offers you the email addresses of state officials representing Southington: State Senator,  Joe.Aresimowicz@cga.ct,,, 

Quite frankly, I write on this subject as a citizen. I am a veteran of military service though not a career military man. I have read the bill on the website of the CGA and on its face, I endorse with the expectation that our representatives work to achieve a balanced and fair resolution, within the general welfare of the people and vote for the passage of Bill 520 as a modest token of appreciation of the service of the career guardians of our country.

What do you say?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Season of Spiritual Growth for Many

Introducing Spirituality and Faith 

During the current Christian season of Lent culminating in the early April holy week leading up to Easter, (April 5), and the concomitant high days of the Jewish Passover season, (starting April 3), the faithful of the Christian-Judeo traditions customarily prioritize this season and turn-out in great numbers to celebrate their religious services, masses and various spiritual rites.

In that spirit, Southington Heartbeat is attempting to bring you faith reflections from spiritual leaders of various denominations, beginning with the below post. Hopefully, it is just the first post of others to come during this season. We invite spiritual leaders in Southington to contact us about posting a spiritual reflection of their own which we will attempt to post on an approximately weekly basis.  

The focus of Southington Heartbeat, remains, as stated in the right panel, and summarized in the banner.. a personal journey of discovery of the caring and proud spirit of the people of Southington. 

Coming to St. Dominic Church in March

The St. Dominic Parish of the Future Education Committee has two particularly interesting presentations coming up this month:

Special Lenten Program

A presentation on Thursday, March 12, 2015 from 7 to 8:30 pm, entitled, Standing on Holy Ground, will be held in the St. Dominic Community Learning Center on the school campus.

Kathy M. Irr
Leading the program will be speaker, Kathy M. Irr, an experienced retreat leader, spiritual director and author of Ordinary Awakenings, a book aimed at the discovery of the treasures in personal ordinary experiences. Irr's sense of humor and down to earth approach in life experiences inspires a greater sense of God's presence and spiritual transformation in each person's life. Irr's books, note cards and journals will be available for purchase and she will also sign books.

The St. Dominic Parish of the Future Education unit is a ministry dedicated to bringing interesting speakers, writers, poets, teachers, etc., to the community to inspire, uplift and deepen personal faith and spirituality.  Admission is free and all are welcome.

An Evening of Reflection in Poetry and Song

The evening of Tuesday, March 17th at 7:00 pm in the sanctuary of St. Dominic Church in Southington promises to be another of the much appreciated return visits of Fr. Henry C. Frascdore, former pastor of St. Dominic Church (1997-2008). Fr. Henry's selected readings from his just published collection of poetry, entitled Harmony, will be blended with the spiritual vocal interludes of Still Small Voice. 

Dr. Patricia Joyce, a member of the Parish of the Future committee and Still Small Voice said: "Lent opens spiritual reflections on who we are and who we are called to be.  That requires time set apart, a sacred space."

Still Small Voice is a group of six women who use their talents, ministry of music and song together with the poetic readings of Fr. Henry C. Frascadore. "Whether about the gospels or a walk in the park with his dog, Ramsey, the author's work is infused with a profound spirituality that resonates with readers and listeners in a poetry and song presentation that offers praise, thanksgiving, healing and hope.   Copies of Fr. Frascadore's new book will be available for sale following the presentation. He will be pleased to sign them and offer a paw print of Ramsey's as well. A CD of the poet-priests new book will be available for a free will offering. If you wish to pick up an advance copy of the author's latest poetry collection,
Fr. Henry C. Frascadore
A fall walk in the park with Ramsey
Harmony, it is available at the gift shops of the Bradley Campus of The Hospitals of Central Connecticut in Southington, Holy Family Monastery and Retreat House in Farmington and St. Francis Hospital in Hartford. It will be available on Amazon within the next week or so.    

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Southington Public Schools - A Few Items of interest

Congratulations to the Southington High Gymnastics Team on winning its third consecutive Class L Gymnastic Championship.  Coach Kaitlyn O’Donnell was reported to have stated that although this event was not the team’s best performance they managed to pick it up on floor and vault events, overcoming their less than remarkable performance on the beam. The Championship win now paves the way to the Connecticut State Open and then the New England Open.

Veteran Educator, Brian Stranieri, named Interim Principal of Southington H.S.
Superintendent Timothy Connellan announced the appointment this week of Brian Stranieri as Interim Principal of Southington H.S., effective March 14, 2015. "Mr. Stranieri began his career in education at Southington H.S. in September 1982.  Brian Stranieri has served as an Assistant Principal with distinction since September 2002 and has been responsible for directly overseeing the educational well-being of thousands of SHS students."Connellan said.

Seventh Grade Classes Collaborate in Social Studies Project
A Social Studies project between John F. Kennedy and Joseph A. DePaolo Middle Schools involves their respective 7th grade classrooms.  Mrs. Trisha Kenefick of DePaolo School told Southington Heartbeat that 7th grade students had researched North Africa and the Middle East, then doing a newscast on their (assigned) country. The project was reported to be the first time students have chatted with each other, classroom to classroom, across town via Google Docs.  "It was also the first time social studies teachers have collaborated on a project and shared their final work product", Kenefick said. Students used Photo Booth and iMovie for their broadcast.