Sunday, September 15, 2019

Chartwells lets down Trinity name and Hartford community

Patrick Robinson

I am an IDP student who has attended Trinity since August of 2009. During my time here at Trinity I have been proud to call myself a fighting Bantam, particularly because of the work Trinity has done in the community. That Bantam spirit is what led me to intern with the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group (ConnPIRG) during the fall semester of 2013. The experience was the most wonderfully selfless endeavor I had ever taken on. ConnPIRG invited me to attend two conferences: one was a leadership conference on the UMASS campus in late September 2013 and the other was a conference on the UNC campus at Chapel Hill for the fight against poverty and homelessness. Upon returning from the conference at UNC on October 6th, 2013, the ConnPIRG organizer on campus told me about a community kitchen for a homeless shelter that was to be organized by Chartwells, the food provider for Trinity.

Three other student volunteers and I went to the Chartwells executive Chef who, because he was transferring out, introduced me to the incoming Executive Chef. We asked the new Chef what needed to be done for the shelter and he said they required hot food that was to be prepared by volunteer students. I then set out on the transit bus to find the shelter. It turns out that the original shelter had found a food provider, but they referred me to Todd Sedor, the director of the Plimpton House in Hartford which houses 36 transitional residents. He said they needed food for November, 1, 15 and December 6. I got confirmation from Chef Lipski and let the director of the Plimpton House know that food would be delivered and served by student volunteers. Before November 1, I checked in with the Chef to make sure we were on the same page.

Upon arriving with other student volunteers on November 1 at 3 p.m. to prepare the food, we were told by Chartwells management and then by the Chef via text message that the community kitchen plan was cancelled, with no explanation. I had to call the Plimpton House and explain to the director that there wasn’t going to be any food being delivered. I wrote to President Jones who contacted Chartwells management and they replied that it was a failure in communication. However, we had received no prior communication that there had been a change in schedule or that the plan had been cancelled.
Chartwells didn’t honor any of the dates we had agreed upon. It left me feeling disillusioned, but it also left me feeling responsible because there had been people in Hartford depending on us for food. I have known what that means because I have been homeless before, and had to live in a transitional house for veterans.

Because of this feeling of responsibility, on November 15, I took some of my financial aid money and went shopping with a friend to buy food and cook it for the residents of the Plimpton House. That helped make my holidays worthwhile. The other student volunteers and I still do not know why Chartwells cancelled its agreement with Plimpton House, but it has certainly damaged Trinity’s reputation in the Hartford community.

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