National Volunteer Week
This week, April 15-21, is National Volunteer Week, and there could hardly be a more fitting theme for many of the events happening over the next few days in New Haven. National Volunteer Week was created over 30 years ago by President Richard Nixon, and is an annual celebration of volunteering; it’s an official way to acknowledge the tremendous benefits that volunteerism has on our community, both directly and indirectly.
Our City is full of people who consistently volunteer to make it the wonderful place it is. The work of these individuals often goes unrecognized, so I would like to take the opportunity this week offers to mention a few of them.
Tax Volunteers Help Residents Save Money & Fulfill Tax Duties
This week marks the end of the tax season. However this tax season left you feeling, it was a better tax season for many low-income New Haven residents, who had their taxes filed for free by volunteers from our city. This free tax preparation service, called VITA, helped residents claim refunds and tax credits. This year was also the first year in which residents who are not U.S. citizens but still wish to file taxes were helped with their registration and filing.
The heart of this program is volunteers who gave their time to help our hardworking low-income residents. I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to those 54 volunteers who made the program successful yet again this year.
This Tuesday, I’ll be presenting a proclamation from the City of New Haven to Kristin Savard, a senior at Yale. Kristin is captain of the Yale women’s hockey and just earlier this month was named the winner of the 2007 Hockey Humanitarian Award. Kristin won the award because, not only is she one of the best hockey players Yale has ever seen (she’s among the top ten players in Yale history for assists, points, and goals), but she also constantly dedicates time to help others around her. While playing on her varsity team, she founded and raised money for an organization to raise awareness for improving maternal health in the developing world. Kristin also tutors in New Haven elementary schools, and serves on a Yale board to bring student-athletes and the New Haven Community Together.
Police Academy Recruits
Few people’s work has more of a direct impact on the wellbeing of our City’s communities than that of our police force. As you may remember, earlier this year I announced a large expansion of the number of police officers in the City to keep New Haven safe. This week, I’ll be visiting the 28 recruits at the Police Academy who are the first class to enter since the proposed expansion. The spirit all of these police officers share about the importance of serving the community is crucial to the success of the force, and—especially during this week of honoring volunteerism—this commitment deserves recognition.
Winners of the Green Award Announced
This Thursday, I’ll be presenting the 2006 Mayor’s Green Awards to Elm City Cycling and Svgals + Partners, LLP. The Green Awards were created to honor individuals, businesses, and organizations that display exceptional effort towards improving environmental quality in our City. Both of these groups have demonstrated a tremendous commitment for making New Haven a better place for all of us to live. It will be a pleasure to publicly recognize their great work.
Mayor’s Community Tour
Since a number of important issues and changes facing New Haven residents were announced in the past few weeks, I’m holding a series of community meetings to discuss issues important to the community, including: the new City budget, the senior tax freeze, and the phase-in plan for property tax reevaluations. Additionally, experts from my staff will be on-hand to help individuals with any specific concerns they might have.
The first two forums will take place:
Tuesday, April 17
Pilgrim Congregational Church
65 East Grand Ave.
Tuesday, April 24
St. Brendan’s Church
455 Whalley Ave.
Please attend and have your questions answered.
The Big Read Launched
Last Friday, I attended the official launch of the Big Read, a program designed to encourage reading by bringing the community together to read a single book. The Big Read is a national program, but this is the first year we’ve brought it to New Haven. The launch was outstanding. The day was full of exciting Big Read celebrations where in the late afternoon two nationally-acclaimed poets gave readings, and in the evening a ball took place to fundraise for the program.
I’m proud New Haven is now participating in this wonderful effort, and I hope many of you decide to participate. For more information, please call the New Haven Library at 946-8130, or go to their website at http://www.cityofnewhaven.com/library/ReadMore.asp?ID=%7B0D55A845-2681-492B-A6FF-F482D8A1D176%7D.
I hope you have a happy and healthy week!
Very Truly Yours,
John DeStefano, Jr.