'Six months and you'll be bored with Hartford and be back in Brooklyn!"
When I told my New York friends who had gone to Trinity College with me that I was moving back to Hartford just six months after graduating and returning to Brooklyn, N.Y., they gave me six months. But it's been three years, six months, and 13 days and I still (heart) Hartford!
I expected that comment from the New Yorkers because the global city has everything we could want: 24-hour corner stores where you get everything from toilet paper to Now-N-Later candies; your pick of Chinese food, Domino's or the Jamaican restaurant on Utica Avenue at 3 o'clock in the morning; and the privilege of getting dressed at 1:30 a.m. to go out until sunrise and breakfast at a diner uptown.
What I didn't expect was the constant look of bafflement I received from some Hartford residents when I told them that I had chosen to move here from Brooklyn. Seven times out of 10, I was asked, "Why?" as though I had to have some extraordinary circumstances that would cause me to choose to set up shop in Hartford. But without hesitation and definitely without apology I always replied: "Because I love Hartford and it's a great city."
I never compare Hartford to New York, just as I do not compare apples to oranges, because they are different — not better or worse, just different. Hartford is a place where motivated young professionals can come and really make a big splash. I came to Hartford to make a splash and am doing it. I bought my first house at the age of 24 off upper Main Street. I'm mentoring some of the best young people I've ever met in the North End as assistant director of Lahairoi, a faith-based youth engagement group from First Church of God.
I have my own business to promote black-owned businesses, writers and artists in the tri-state area. I have as mentors some of the greatest movers and shakers in Connecticut, such as John Motley and Dee Flowers, who help young people like me navigate this city professionally. The city is so ripe with opportunity and I'm taking advantage of it from every angle: social venues, civic engagement opportunities, new business ventures, financial investment, everything.
My passion is access. In Hartford you can get access. But I don't want access just for me. I want it to share so that there will be more of us investing in Hartford and talking it up the way we should, instead of having people ask me "Why Hartford?" The best advice I received from John was: "Don't start another nonprofit in Hartford to compete for resources. Your passion is connecting, so connect those you know to those who are already doing it and help them do it better."
I have had the best time connecting Hartford natives to the local happenings and the newest spots; connecting youths to programs that already exist that they might have been overlooking. Hartford is a place where I can get my hand on the pulse and really help people improve their lives and love their city.
So for the record, this is my last time I'm explaining to anyone why I'm here. My name is Sherrie (affectionately called MPrss) and I'm a chic, ambitious, God-fearing, young, urban, black professional transplant from Brooklyn — and I love Hartford!
Sherrie-Ann Gordon, 26, is an office manager for AARP, among many other activities.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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