Hartford should not be the home of all the region's social service providers; surrounding towns should share this burden.
But some agencies are so vital to the well-being of city residents that they should be welcomed with open arms - especially when they reuse a historic building in the process.
Chrysalis Center provides a variety of mental health services to some 2,000 residents of Greater Hartford, a majority of them city residents. The agency operates in nine locations around the city, but will soon consolidate administration and four sites into one, the former Sealtest Dairy building at Homestead Avenue and Woodland Street.
The building opened as the Bryant Chapman Dairy in 1911 and remained a dairy until it closed in 1999. Chrysalis bought the red brick, 65,000-square-foot building on 3.7 acres in 2002, and business leader John Motley has led a fund-raising drive to pay for renovation.
The campaign has collected $3.4 million toward a goal of $5.2 million. Work began on the building over the summer.
The renovated facility will offer most of Chrysalis' core services, such as case management, employment assistance and social rehabilitation. In addition, there'll be a food distribution program called Fresh Place, which will offer fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products to residents who need them.
Chrysalis helps clients work through mental illness and addiction problems and return to the workforce, which in turn improves the overall health and prosperity of the city.
The new location doesn't interfere with a residential neighborhood, yet is close to the increasingly vibrant Albany Avenue commercial district. There may even be an opportunity to bring small businesses such as a coffee shop into the building. It's a win all around.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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