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!
”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.