Sponsored Events

Probus Greater Hartford Collaborates With The Bushnell

Probus Greater Hartford would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our friends at The Bushnell Performing Arts Center in downtown Hartford. We are so happy to announce our new partnership. We are collaborating with the Bushnell and we are hosting area group homes, IDD (Intellectually & Developmentally Disabled) individuals and their caregivers for some amazing artistic performances in a sensory-friendly environment!

On February 25th, we invited a few IDD residents and their caregivers to attend with us a very exciting concert/workshop entitled “Feel the Beat Workshop Hip Hop and Drumming”. Thank you to our dedicated Probus members Bob Goldberg and Rich Egner for opening the door to a very nice working relationship with this iconic venue.

Our Probus membership was then treated to a special guest speaker from the Bushnell, Catt Gruszka Vadala, Sr. Manager Front of House Services & Volunteer Services at the Bushnell, at our general membership meeting on April 17th. She gave us a robust overview of the Bushnell’s commitment to offering sensory-friendly performances of all types. Aspects of a sensory-friendly show include, but are not limited to, the following: lower sound, softer lighting, the ability for patrons to come and go as needed during the shows in a judgement-free setting, the guarantee of a safe and relaxed space for people of all abilities, etc.

Catt is in charge of 700 people which includes her staff and an army of volunteers. An important part of her job is to provide and coordinate the tools and accommodations which will assist people who have various challenges to insure that they can easily watch, listen to and enjoy the theatrical production on the stage. People in wheelchairs, walkers or who require amplification headset devices, service animals, American Sign Language (ASL) translations or other accommodations are all welcome into the Bushnell so that they can be exposed to creative artistry.

Probus was generously comped a block of 100 tickets to distribute to area group homes to attend the April 21st performance of the Snow White Ballet at the Bushnell’s Belding Theater. These tickets came to us courtesy of the Ballet Theatre Company of West Hartford, and we are so grateful for this kind gesture!

A huge turnout ensued which included 50 IDD individuals, 33 staff/caregivers, including 3 from “Best Buddies” and 4 Probus volunteers. This group of attendees came from HARC, CCARC and DDS. All told, 90 people showed up for this show. The Ballet Theatre Company’s rendition of Snow White was breathtaking! Attendees were given a ballerina coloring book page with crayons. Seating in the theater was open and unassigned to allow flexibility. Some IDD individuals were allowed to sit in special “quiet space” areas if that’s what they needed. Many of Probus’ invited IDD guests signed an oversized Thank You card which was presented to the Ballet Theatre Company as a show of appreciation. All in all, a very worthwhile and stimulating outing!

2nd Probus Corn Hole Event

Held at The American School For The Deaf
Honors Dr. Bob Dobrow with an even larger group home turnout

This fun day continues to grow in leaps and bounds….and tosses!

5 months after our initial recreational corn hole event for area group home residents and their caregivers, Probus Greater Hartford hosted its 2nd corn hole outing with more participants showing up!

10 group homes enjoyed this recreational outing at the gymnasium of the American School for The Deaf (ASD) in West Hartford on Saturday, April 13, 2024. Best Buddies, as well as group homes from HARC, CCARC and DDS sent IDD individuals to test their skills and compete for fun in games which included: Corn Hole (bean bag toss) at multiple stations, Basketball (small and large hoops), Rubberized, & safe, Axe Throwing at targets, “Connect 4” (jumbo sized tic tac toe game) and Mini Golf putting.

53 total participants (34 individuals & 19 staff) enthusiastically showed up and were raring to go. There was a good showing of Probus members who volunteered and helped/encouraged the IDD individuals. By the way, a number of 3-point shots were taken, and made, by some of the athletic IDD basketball participants!

Billed as the “Probus Dr. Bob Dobrow Corn Hole Event”, this was an active Saturday morning of leisure and games on the ASD basketball court for our Intellectually & Developmentally Disabled (IDD) friends.

Probus would like to give a big shout out to Richard Egner who took the lead on organizing this event. Rich was the point person who secured group home participants. He also designed and crafted the 4 Mini Golf Putt Putt boards and built them in his workshop in varying sizes and attractive colors. The holes were customized and positioned in different locations on the boards to make them creative and challenging. Thanks also to Rich’s father whose donation helped to pay for the plastic and rubber golf balls, the artificial turf, paint and holes made out of PVC synthetic resin. Additionally, we are grateful to a friend of Richard’s (Mike Thadieo), who owns “Detailing World” on Scott Swamp Road in Farmington, who donated the lumber which Rich used to build the mini putting green boards.

The corn hole sporting event was conceived by Ed Peltier, who is Vice President of the Probus Greater Hartford Chapter and former Executive Director of The American School For The Deaf. When longtime and beloved Probus member Dr. Bob Dobrow, who served in a leadership position on multiple committees and was our Secretary, passed in October of 2022, we lost a tireless advocate, planner and doer within our ranks. Ed decided that an appropriate way to honor the memory and spirit of Dr. Bob would be to plan a brand new activity to engage the local IDD community. Dr. Bob loved sports and physical activities and was a point person when it came to interfacing with group homes in Central Connecticut. He worked many hours over the years to recruit group homes to attend our Annual Picnic, our Gala celebration at The Hartford Club and our Central Connecticut State University basketball game outings.

We are so happy that this new Probus event has taken off and is growing in popularity!

Probus Corn Hole Event At The American School For The Deaf

Draws Group Home Residents & Honors Dr. Bob Dobrow

On November 18, 2023 some 25 area group home residents, and their caregivers, participated in an enjoyable recreational outing at the gymnasium of the American School For The Deaf in West Hartford.  Billed as the “Probus Dr. Bob Dobrow Corn Hole Event”, this was a fun Saturday morning of leisure and games on the basketball court for our Intellectually & Developmentally Disabled (IDD) friends.  Games included multiple corn hole (bean bag toss) stations, a rubberized & safe “velcro-like axe throwing” activity and basketball hoop shooting competition.

The event was the brainchild of Ed Peltier, who is Vice President of the Probus Greater Hartford Chapter and former Executive Director of The American School For The Deaf.  When longtime and beloved Probus member Dr. Bob Dobrow, who served in a leadership position on multiple committees and was our Secretary, passed in October of 2022, there was a palpable sense of loss and a void in our chapter.  Ed decided that an appropriate way to honor the memory and spirit of Dr. Bob would be to plan a brand new activity to engage the local IDD community.  Dr. Bob loved sports and physical activities and was a point person when it came to interfacing with group homes in Central Connecticut.  He worked tirelessly over the years to recruit group homes to attend our Annual Picnic, our Gala celebration at The Hartford Club and our Central Connecticut State University basketball game outings. 

An information table was set up on the basketball court for “Best Buddies” (a nonprofit organization that connects people with and without IDD through one-to-one friendships) which has recently partnered with Probus on various events.  Ed along with fellow Probian Richard Egner, who assisted in the planning for the Corn Hole event, both agreed that the day was a successful endeavor.  Ed envisions the possibility of the Corn Hole event occurring at least a few times per year since the initial launch was so well received!

Probus Holds Drum Circle 2!

Residents and caregivers from several of the region’s group homes for intellectually and developmentally disabled members of our community joined with children and parents from the Glastonbury Public Schools’ Special Education Parent-Teacher Organization (SEPTO) and Hartford Probus members at the Elmwood Community Center in West Hartford on Saturday, April 1, 2023 for Drum Circle 2!

Drum Master Andrew Prue led 21 participants in a series of rhythms—some soft and slow, others loud and fast. Andrew brought a variety of percussive instruments for the group to try out but primary among them were numerous versions of the West African Djembe

The Djembe is played with the hand and Andrew showed us the many ways a drummer can strike the Djembe to create different sounds. And create we did! We made the Community Center rock!

Thank you to Andrew Prue who made Drum Circle 2 a huge success!

Magic Show 2 a Huge Success!

Probus Greater Hartford hosted its second magic show on Sunday, March 19, 2023 at The Buttonwood Tree in Middletown. Once again, group home residents, care givers, and Probus members were in attendance along with children and parents from Glastonbury Public Schools’ Special Education Parent-Teacher Organization (SEPTO). Performing for us for the second time was Gene the Amazing! And we marveled at his magic.

Gene’s coat of many colors does not tell the whole story. Yes, there were many card tricks. And, no, we could not figure out how he did them. But there was also a rope with knots that suddenly and amazingly had no knots! There was a red scarf that turned into a white scarf! We saw Gene take scissors and cut a rope in half and then in half again. And then the rope was whole. How did this happen? Maybe you can figure it out if you.

Probus at CCSU Blue Devils Basketball

Once again this year Probus Greater Hartford hosted intellectually and developmentally disabled residents of the area’s group homes and their caregivers at men’s and women’s basketball games at Central Connecticut State University. Joining us for the first time were families associated with The Miracle League of Connecticut, an organization whose mission is to make it possible for children with physical and cognitive challenges to play sports and engage in recreational opportunities at accessible facilities. We are about three-quarters into the 2023 season and Probus has hosted approximately 75 distinct individuals with many of them returning to attend more games.

Probus’ partnership with CCSU Athletics and, in particular, Mr. Steve Villanti, Associate Athletics Director for External Services, has been extremely rewarding. CCSU has been gracious and generous, allowing Probus to provide free tickets to all who request them. The games have been full of thrills on and off the court as one lucky little boy named Jack learned when he found himself the center of attention of CCSU’s Dance Team.

Probus Greater Hartford’s Drum Circle

Music is a universal element of culture. Every society throughout the ages has had music in one form or another. Making music is one of the most joyous things a person can do. And making music with others is even better. It brings exuberant smiles and warms the heart of the music creators. This was the experience for a group of 15 people on a Saturday in November at Probus Greater Hartford’s first Drum Circle.

Probus Greater Hartford and The Buttonwood Tree in Middletown, CT hosted intellectually and developmentally disabled members of our community at a Drum Circle event on November 19, 2022.  Participants included residents of some Hartford area group homes, members of Best Buddies CT along with their senior program manager, Bill White, and a client in Middletown’s MARC program. Drummer Andrew Prue brought an eclectic assortment of drums and other percussive instruments and the drum circle participants, including parents, caregivers, and Probus volunteers, got to try out several and choose the instruments we would use throughout the afternoon. The video speaks for itself. Watch as drum master Prue guides the group through a series of rhythms—both loud and deliberate and slow and measured. And listen to the glorious sounds that making music with friends of all abilities can do for the heart and for the soul.

This was the second of what we hope will be many joyous collaborations between Probus Greater Hartford and The Buttonwood Tree. Many thanks to Anne-Marie Cannata McEwen, Executive Director of The Buttonwood Tree for her enthusiastic support of Probus and her efforts in facilitating these events.

Magician Entertains Group-Home Residents at PROBUS Event: October 16th, 2022

In our first ever collaboration with The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts Center in Middletown, Probus Greater Hartford hosted an entertaining matinee magic show for area group homes on Sunday, October 16th! It was standing room only as we filled the venue with intellectually and developmentally disabled residents and their caregivers from Manchester, Bloomfield, Wethersfield, Rocky Hill and Newington.

These 27 residents and caregivers, and 12 Probus host volunteers’, were treated to a magic show featuring the sleight of hand of professional magician Gene Thompson, who goes by the stage name of “Gene the Amazing”. His repertoire included rope tricks, coin tricks, card tricks as well as balloon animals which he created for the audience. With humor sprinkled into his legerdemain, Gene the Amazing wowed us with his trickery and provided a joyful respite to all audience members.

A heartfelt thank you to Anne-Marie McEwen, Executive Director of The Buttonwood Tree for joining forces with Probus and helping to plan and, coordinate this special event!

PROBUS 2022 Annual Picnic/Barbecue at Camp Courant, Well Attended on September 10th

On a bright late summer day, busses and vans rolled into the beautiful Camp Courant Campus overlooking Batterson Pond, in Farmington. One hundred sixty residents and caregivers from group homes in Connecticut arrived early in the day to enjoy D-J music and opportunities to dance and stroll the grounds. Some went with counselors to play basketball. All eagerly awaited a robust grilled luncheon and snack treats and deserts.

Probus thanks the great cooperation of Camp Courant staff and their generosity in providing their campsite for this event.

In all, 38 Connecticut group homes were invited from 23 towns throughout the state. Our PROBUS team of chefs provided 192 meals to attendees and volunteers. After hours of fun our guests from the IDD community returned to their busses and each received a gift bag with a variety of baseball hats, T-shirts, frisbees, small baseballs, note-pads, or similar items.

Probus Greater Hartford Hosts 19 Group Home Guests At Exciting Yard Goats Minor League Baseball Game

On a warm Sunday, July 17th Probus Greater Hartford hosted 2 area group home organizations at a fun outing for a Minor League baseball game in Hartford. 19 group home residents and caregivers, 12 from CCARC in New Britain and 7 from Windsor Respite, attended a Hartford Yard Goats game at Dunkin Donuts Park in the Capitol City.

Probus was happy to provide tickets for our guests to enjoy the action from our seats in the “Dunkin Dugout” section along the 3rd base line near left field.

Upon arrival, our guests and a small contingent of Probus volunteers were treated to a tour of the inner parts of the stadium which are not usually seen by the average fan attending a game. We saw live batting practice from a batting cage tucked into the basement of the stadium. Our tour guide provided some fun facts and player statistics and then he walked our group out onto the field around 12:15 pm, before the 1:05 pm first pitch, so that we could snap a group photo of the Probus volunteers and our group home guests! We then took our seats to get ready for the start of the game.

One of the group home residents came prepared with his baseball cap and glove in case there was an opportunity to catch a foul ball!
The game was a sellout with 6,656 fans in attendance. Thanks to Yard Goat player Michael Toglia’s go-ahead grand slam homer in the 7th inning, the Goats were carried to their 5th straight win! We had an enjoyable time watching them beat the Harrisburg Senators (a Washington Nationals affiliate) 7-3.

Thanks to our Yard Goats liaison Bob Goldberg for securing complimentary tickets for the group homes. Bob also handled a lot of the behind-the-scenes logistics to make this a safe and successful event. Hats off also to Dr. Bob Dobrow for helping coordinate and communicate with Windsor Respite so that they could attend the game. And thank you to the Hartford Yard Goats management for partnering with our non-profit organization to bring some joy to area intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals….we so appreciate your kindness!

“Helping Hands, Caring Hearts” Gala

Inaugural Probus Gala is a Home Run!

Anchored by the theme “Helping Hands, Caring Hearts,” Probus Greater Hartford hosted its inaugural gala on Thursday, June 9, 2022 at The Hartford Club. Seventy guests, including directors and staff from state agencies and nonprofits, educators, caregivers, IDD advocates, and interested members of the public attended.

The highlight of the evening was the keynote address by Jay Williams, President and CEO of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. Mr. Williams emphasized the importance of volunteerism to the making and furtherance of a civil society and helped the audience envision what our world might look like if there were no volunteers. The image he created was rather bleak, reinforcing for the guests how important it is to give freely of one’s time, even in small ways or even if that time is limited.

Four organizations received Probus’ Caring Heart Award for their service and commitment to members of our community with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and for their collaboration with Probus Greater Hartford. More specifically,

  • Hartford’s Camp Courant was recognized for its desire to incorporate programming for the IDD community and working with Probus to host its annual picnic for over 15 group homes and respite care facilities from 13 area towns.
  • The Connecticut Department of Developmental Services has been especially helpful to Probus in securing the participation of these group homes and respite facilities for the Probus picnic and identifying homes to attend basketball games at Central Connecticut State University.
  • The collaboration between Probus and CCARC resulted in the organization hosting one of Probus’ annual picnics and in our donation of specialized, adaptable chairs for residents in CCARC housing.
  • Three programs/offices at Central Connecticut State University were recognized for their work with Probus including the Athletics Department, Department of Special Education and Interventions, and Division of Advancement.

Additional honors went to three teachers from West Hartford’s Hall High School for being awarded a grant through Probus’ Supporting Special Needs Education program. They have developed a science project involving gardening and environmental issues for a group of special needs students.

Introductory and closing remarks were made by Probus Greater Hartford president, Charles Dobrow, (full text available by clicking this link) in which he stressed the importance of Probus’ collaboration with other organizations as a way of furthering the Probus mission and providing richer opportunities for members of the IDD community than Probus could achieve on its own. A new Board of Directors was installed with the help of John H. Motley, one of Greater Hartford’s best known and most enterprising leaders as well as one of its funniest and most charming.

Guests enjoyed a cocktail/social hour, buffet dinner, silent auction and tea cup raffle, and entertainment by Bill Dobrow and Friends, a featured jazz quartet from New York City.

PROBUS 2022 Balloon Sale Fundraiser a Memorial Day Success!

After a two year hiatus, the Memorial Day parade resumed in West Hartford on May 30th, 2022. Fourteen PROBUS volunteers arrived early in the morning at Town Hall and worked efficiently in the Judge’s chambers inflating hundreds of balloons and assembling patriotic pinwheels. By 9:30 A.M., this determined group took to the streets of Farmington Ave. and South Main St. Eager youngsters and parents purchased all the offerings as the parade began under azure skies and comfortable Spring temperatures.

The crowd was delighted, and PROBUS sales were well supported. The pictures of the event reflect the public enthusiasm, and the pleasure of our PROBUS volunteers, who overcame supply chain issues (shortage of Helium tanks) and volunteer shortages. Heartfelt thanks go to the several family members and friends who joined our PROBUS team to make this event a  success. Thank you also to retired Judge Syd Elkin, and to Acting Town Manager for West Hartford Rick Ledwith, for arranging PROBUS use of Town Hall.

Hartford Probus Has Resumed Hosting Area Group Homes At CCSU Varsity Basketball Games

On a snow squall Saturday afternoon, Probus resumed it’s hosting of area group homes at CCSU basketball games! On February 19th, 2022, eighteen residents & caregivers from group homes in New Britain, Newington, Simsbury and Storrs traveled to Detrick Gymnasium as our guests to watch an incredibly exciting Women’s Varsity game vs. Wagner. The Wagner Seahawks from Staten Island, NY defeated the CCSU lady Blue Devils 65-58. The Blue Devils, who were down by 25 points in the first half, staged a gritty comeback in the second half, and nearly pulled off the upset! It was great to see some familiar faces from the group homes come back to the New Britain CCSU campus for much deserved fun!

One week later, on Saturday February 26th, five Probus members (Dr Bob Dobrow, Charlie Dobrow, Mark Goldberg, David Maslin and volunteer Yehuda Meyer) hosted twenty-three group home residents and their caregivers at a fast-paced CCSU Men’s basketball game vs. Mount Saint Mary College. The Mountaineers from Newburgh, NY defeated the CCSU Blue Devils 65 – 46. At half time, all guests were treated to a well-choreographed performance at center court of young women from the SRL Irish Dance Academy from South Windsor, The talented CCSU cheer leaders also entertained.

It was heart-warming to observe one group home attendee proudly wearing a Special Olympics Medal that he received in a (CTSO) softball competition. This was yet another indication of how important opportunities for sporting event participation are to persons in the I.D.D. community. Probus volunteers have been pleased to assist at various CTSO events. We are indebted to our partners in the CCSU Athletics Department for providing us with basketball game tickets to hand out to group homes attending from throughout central Connecticut.

Probus Volunteers Attend First “Re-Opening” Men’s Basketball at CCSU

Probus Greater Hartford held a mid-Winter social event on Saturday, February 12th 2022, when a half dozen Probians attended a Central Connecticut State University Men’s Basketball game vs. St. Francis of Brooklyn, NY on the New Britain campus. Although Central lost 67-50, a great time was had by all and it was thrilling to once again safely attend a live game, out in a public venue. Tickets for these games have been generously provided to Probus, by Steve Valenti, Director of Athletics, CCSU.

Probus Donates to New Britain Shelters

Before the February 12th C.C.S.U. “Blue Devils” game, Probus chapter members generously donated priority supplies to the C.C.S.U. annual drive to support New Britain’s homeless shelters. The Alumni Association and the Office of the President were collecting self-care and other items that will be placed in overnight emergency kits. Donations included toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, warm socks and other essentials. Non-perishable foods were also accepted and donated to Maria’s Place, the C.C.S.U. food pantry. The numerous items donated by PROBUS more than filled a huge carton, and will help many in need during this long and cold Winter.

Probus Annual Picnic 2021

Probus Greater Hartford has partnered with the oldest camp in the country to share the joy of a summer picnic with area group homes and special needs individuals. Probus Greater Hartford held it’s Annual Picnic for intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals on Sunday, August 29th at Camp Courant in Farmington, CT. This camp was founded 124 years ago and it is the oldest and largest free summer day camp in the nation. It served as the ideal venue to welcome our 109 guests who arrived in vans from area group homes, and other facilities, including The American School For The Deaf in West Hartford. Our 22 Probus volunteers and board members cooked hamburgers and hot dogs to 25 picnic tables under the massive pavilion. Chips, cookies and bottled water were also handed out. The 2020 pandemic cancelled our picnic last year and this August, Hurricane Henri  caused us to reschedule our picnic date to the end  of the month.

Kudos to our hip D.J. Matt “Funktavious” who provided a great mix of danceable tunes to set the mood and provide a palpable energy. Many attendees danced among themselves and with caregivers. A number of our guests also availed themselves of the camp’s swing sets, jungle gyms and other recreational equipment, or strolled the lovely campus.

As our guests were departing Camp Courant they were given some small gifts to take with them, to help remember the day.

We are indebted to Camp Courant for outstanding cooperation and generosity and their Director of Donor Involvement, Jessica Pierson, and her talented and tireless staff!

TWENTY-THREE GROUP HOMES REGISTERED FOR OUR PICNIC. They came from the following 13 towns: South Windsor, East Hartford, Rocky Hill, Newington, Storrs, Manchester, New Britain, West Hartford, Bloomfield, Hartford, Ellington, Simsbury and Willimantic. PROBUS looks forward to further events serving those in the IDD community.

Probus Volunteers for Special Olympics

Probus volunteers were excited to participate in two Special Olympics CT events on Saturday June 19, 2021, welcoming this extraordinary organization’s return to physical gatherings after last year’s forced pandemic suspension.

The two events included a track and field meet held at Fitch Senior High School in Groton, CT, and a cycling competition at a corporate facility in Cheshire, CT. Probus members Charlie Dobrow, Dr. Bob Dobrow and Chris Magnifico volunteered as Cycling Course Marshals at the Summer Sports Series Cycling Event in Cheshire. The trio were supplied with walkie talkies and stationed at various points on the oval course to help monitor and maintain a safe riding environment for the competing athletes. A myriad of bicycles, including English racers and over-sized adult tricycles were safety inspected, and used for a series (1K to 5K) of time trials.

Meanwhile, at the Groton Summer Sports Series Athletic Competition, the threesome of Adrienne and David Maslin, along with Mark Goldberg, were busy attaching assigned numbers to athletes, escorting them to their starting positions on the track, and providing last minute lane and finish line instructions. The day saw a full range of races — from 50 meters to 1500 meters – each involving multiple “heats”.

The Probus volunteers also cheered on and encouraged the determined athletes who have been training for months for these events. Many of the Special Olympians smiled and pumped their fists at the crowd as they competed. The competitions were truly inspiring: there was a palpable sense of joy and pride displayed by spectators, coaches and family members of the athletes who urged their loved ones on.

Commemorative Medals were awarded to all the athletes.

Probus sends a big “Thank You!” to Special Olympics Connecticut for the opportunity to partner with you on this festive day of competition!

Baseball Clinic

”3 D. Disability, Dream and Do“, arranged by Dave Clark, hosted by The Hartford Yard Goats team, and assisted by Hartford PROBUS volunteers on the field.

Two annual summer Clinics have hosted hundreds of area youngsters with special needs  enjoying the thrill of sports participation.

The Annual Picnic

SPONSORED BY PROBUS has hosted as many as 275 persons from area Group Homes and Respite Care facilities. This extremely popular event features barbecued grilled meals and hours of D-J music in an outdoors and open pavilion settings, which are wheel-chair accessible. Recent entertainments included College sport celebrities and professional team mascots. Travel to this event has been in specialized vans provided by DDS.

Basketball at Central Connecticut State University

For several years Probus of Greater Hartford has sponsored group homes attendance at varsity college basketball games. Most recently nearly 150 residents and caregivers enjoyed double-header CCSU men’s’ and women’s games at Detrick Gymnasium on the New Britain campus. Tickets were given by the CCSU Athletic Dept. Probus volunteers welcomed each guest on arrival and seated all at court side. Attendees have expressed great satisfaction with these exciting outings.