FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Sen. Seminara Concludes Women’s History Month Non-Profit Tour (Photo Included)

April 11, 2023


April 11th, 2023
Photo & Links Included

Sen. Seminara Concludes Women’s History Month Non-Profit Tour

HARTFORD – State Senator Lisa Seminara (R-Avon) recently concluded a month-long celebration of Women’s History Month by touring and interviewing the female owners/operators of seven non-profit organizations throughout the Eighth Senate District:

  • Friendly Hands Food Bank of Torrington;
  • Waste Not Want Not Community Kitchen of Granby;
  • Outside Perspectives of New Hartford;
  • Connecticut NorthStars of Canton;
  • Gifts of Love in Avon;
  • Healing Meals of Simsbury; and
  • Farmington Valley Visiting Nurse Association of Simsbury.

“While at Friendly Hands Food Bank in Torrington, I was joined by a bipartisan group of House and Senate colleagues, including Rep. Michelle Cook (D-Torrington), Rep. Jay Case (R-Winchester) & Sen. Stephen Harding (R-Brookfield). Friendly Hands is the largest food bank in Northwestern Connecticut and has been fighting food insecurity for over thirty years, serving over thirty-four thousand meals a month. Karen Thomas, the Executive Director, and her team rose to the occasion during the pandemic, and they continue to do so with their work at Friendly Hands,” said Senator Seminara.

Seminara also visited Sandy Flaag, President of the Board at Waste Not, Want Not Community Kitchen in Granby, a community-based center for weekly family-style wholesome hot meals on Wednesdays. The organization started fourteen years ago, serving a simple first meal to about fifteen people. They have grown over the years and today provide full meals to 350 members of the community.

Senator Seminara adds, “I met three incredible women at Outside Perspectives in New Hartford, Nicky Wood, the Executive Director, Liza Bocchichio, the Program Director, and Lauren Humphrey, the Community Outreach & Development Director.” Outside Prospectives provides opportunities for urban children to experience transformative outdoor adventures that often result in deep, enduring relationships with new friends, a newfound love of nature as well as increased self-confidence.”

Connecticut NorthStars out of Canton is a non-profit that I hold close to my heart,” says Seminara. “Katie DaCosta is doing incredible work for our community by encouraging women’s participation in basketball. I am so excited to see all that Katie and the NorthStars accomplish.” CT NorthStars is committed to improving the individual basketball skills of young athletes, ages ten to seventeen, by providing knowledgeable coaching and the opportunity to play competitive ball.

Everyone needs a little help occasionally, and Gifts of Love in Avon provides just that. Lisa Gray, the Executive Director, gave insight into all the good their non-profit is doing. For thirty-four years, Gifts of Love has provided food, clothing, and basic household needs to nearly fifteen hundred people annually,” Seminara notes. “By providing temporary relief to those struggling, it allows families and individuals to shift their attention to paying for other expenses and giving them a little peace and security.”

Sarah Leathers founded Healing Meals in Simsbury after seeing her sister start a similar organization in California and began by bringing cancer patients meals. In 2015, with help from Ellen Palmer, the current COO, she expanded the organization’s mission to not only provide organic meals to those suffering from physical and mental ailments but to educate people on the impact of eating healthier food. In addition, they have youth volunteers who assist with the food preparation and write handwritten notes of encouragement with each meal. “They shared with me their plans to expand further. I can’t wait to stay in touch and see where they go,” said Seminara.

“Homecare is imperative to healing. Providing services in the home has become more desirable over time, and Nancy Scheetz, the CEO, illustrated to me how the Farmington Valley Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) is working to address these growing needs,” Seminara continues. The Farmington Valley VNA serves Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Granby, Hartland, New Hartford, and Simsbury, providing clinical services and care in people’s homes. Their certified services guarantee quality treatment throughout the state by providing home and hospice care.

“March was an incredible and awe-inspiring month, getting the chance to meet women who provide so much value to our communities and learn more about what they do and how they got their starts,” said Senator Seminara. “It warms my heart to see such good work being done right here across the Eighth District, and I look forward to working with each of these women and organizations in the years ahead.” Although these women-led non-profits do incredible work, a tremendous need remains. These organizations can always benefit from volunteers and funding. If you are interested in helping, please check them out.”


Photo: Senator Seminara pictured at non-profits owned/operated by women

1st Row L-R, Outside Perspective- Lauren Humphrey, Liza Bocchichio, Nicky Wood | Gifts of Love– Lisa Gray

2nd Row L-R, Healing Meals– Sarah Leathers, Ellen Palmer| Waste Not Want Not– Sandy Flaag | Friendly Hands– Karen Thomas

3rd Row L-R, Farmington Valley VNA– Nancy Scheets | CT NorthStars


Hannah Lemek
(860) 240-0474