The winter of 2015 was relentless, in New England. Record cold and unprecedented snowfall sent even the heartiest souls in search of shelter. On February 16, 2015; the high temperature was 14 degrees. The evening news reported that a woman, who missed her bus by 1 minute, had to wait another hour for transportation. On a typical winter day, in South Windsor, CT many people must spend extended lengths of time working, walking or waiting outside. When temperatures plunge into the teens, remaining outside becomes a bone-chilling experience.
The Chair of the South Windsor Human Relations Commission, Charlie Margolis, is an inveterate walker. Rain, snow or sun, he accumulates his 10K steps...plus. On frigid days in January and February, Charlie placed chemical hand warmers in his gloves to moderate the numbing effects of the cold. It occurred to him that the people who had to stand outside probably didn't have the same luxury. Charlie met with me and Police Chief Matthew Reed, in February. He proposed the idea of soliciting donations of hand warmers and involving patrol officers to distribute them. The Chief and I were enthusiastic about the idea and identified a donor. Mr. Manoj Tripathy , Business Relationship Manager of Tata Consulting Services, generously provided the hand warmers. One-hundred-sixty packages of hand warmers were purchased and labels, acknowledging the donor and supporters, were attached. Next winter, each patrol car will carry a box of hand warmers. When an officer sees an individual who is outside, in the cold, that person will be offered a bit of comfort.
When well intentioned people work together, challenges become opportunities. The "Warm Communities" Project is a simple idea; a small gesture with a greater meaning. It is a way to extend the message that "our community cares." The police will have an opportunity to connect with people in a personal and positive way. Perhaps other towns will implement this model or create other ways to make people's journey just a little easier. Stay warm.