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Community Leaders To Shine Light On Homelessness

“Who do you mean by ‘We’?”, was Bruce Mochan’s first question when Jason Cohen, the Branch Director of the Winsted Y, first approached him with the crazy idea. Cohen had just proposed to Mochan, the Y’s Housing Manager, that they put together a fundraiser for the Y’s homeless shelter that included them spending the night on the town green in the middle of winter. It seemed like an appropriate way to remind the community that numerous families and individuals must do that on a regular basis.

From there the idea, dubbed “Freezin’ For A Reason”, snowballed to include two other community leaders that will be sleeping in East End Park on Friday, December 14. Dale Martin, Winchester’s Town Manager, Dennis Minor, New Harford’s Parks and Recreation Director, and David Sartirana, Winsted Deputy Fire Chief, will round out the team of hardy souls ready to brave the cold.

“I’m bracing for a chilly night,” said Martin. “It’s all for a great cause, however, so I’m hoping the good karma will keep us warm.” In order to raise funds, the participants are tasked with soliciting donations of at least five hundred dollars each, though there will definitely be some friendly competition to see who can bring in the biggest total.

The Y is an Agency that serves the entire North West corner so anyone seeking services from New Hartford to Canaan will benefit from this event.

“I’ve never slept outside in temperatures as low as expected but if any of those guys out fund raise me, I’ll sleep out there an extra night.”

“One dollar for Minor will lead to Major help for the homeless. The goal is $500 and we’re looking for $1 pledges”.

The Winsted Y homeless shelter recently celebrated twenty five years of serving the community. Its six rooms contain seventeen beds, which accommodate families as well as single men and women. Stays at the shelter typically range from 30-90 days, as Mochan works with the clients toward finding more permanent housing. While the shelter typically serves about 65 clients during an average year, far more are perennially on the waiting list for a bed.

“I unfortunately have to turn down hundreds of requests per year,” said Mochan, “as I just don’t have a bed available at the time.”

Operating the shelter can be a financial challenge for the Y, however it is one that they feel passionately about. “Perhaps no single program or service better exemplifies the mission of the Y than our shelter,” said Cohen, “and it goes to the roots of the Y as a national organization, as well as our 125 year history here in Winsted.”

The funds raised through this event will go toward operating the shelter, as well as enhancing the experience for clients. From providing money to do laundry, to offering educational programs, to replacing aging furniture and appliances, donations will allow the clients a bit more dignity and normalcy during their difficult transition.

To support one or more of the participants in their overnight effort, visit the Y’s web site or call (860) 379-0708.

New Hartford Rec Director Dennis Minor (on the right) and Y Director Jay Cohen are shown on the town green in Winsted where they will be spending the night on Friday, December 14, raising funds and awareness of the needs of the homeless in our communities


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