HCTC 2021 Report



The High Stakes of Violence Prevention

2020 Annual Report | Hartford Communities That Care


Letter from the Executive Director

Applying the Lessons of 2020 to Public Health Crises

Not since the Spanish Flu of 1918 has a pandemic harmed and

robbed so many lives as has COVID-19 over the past year. As its

outbreaks kindle and re-kindle through this day, trauma-informed

workers out of our North End oasis at Hartford Communities

That Care (HCTC) continue to counter this latest insult to injury,

a crisis being absorbed disproportionately by those already most

vulnerable to the public health crisis of community violence in our


At first, we were back on our heels in this new normal of threats to

residents’ jobs, schooling, health, and lives. But we quickly teamed

up with our seasoned and newest partners to make adjustments

in real time, delivering personal

protective equipment and face

masks and communicating reliable

information about COVID-19.

We used a combination of oldfashioned

sweat equity and modern

virtual technologies to continue to

serve our primary clients: the victims of gun violence and their

families and loved ones at the center of our mission for more than

two decades. We learned anew what crisis response entails.

Especially given the unpredictability of a national response more

attuned to confusing PR than infection control, with business

and school operations frequently changing, 2020 presented

an extreme test of our personal and professional capabilities

as frontline intervenors. We knew going in that our clients’

confidence in government had long since been overdrawn,

yet found that our round-the-clock resolve over the years had

built considerable public trust in preventive work. Indeed, our

Our reputation for service turned out to be

a crucial lifeline in 2020 for the unserved

and underserved families on whom the

pandemic piled unforeseen layers of risk.

reputation for service turned out to be a crucial lifeline in 2020 for

the unserved and underserved families on whom the pandemic

piled unforeseen layers of risk.

As this report details, HCTC combines uniquely local civic

engagement with expert medical, state, and national advocacy

to continuously improve our crisis response, clinical care, and

youth leadership development programs. Notably, our Hartford

Care Response Team’s crisis response partnership since 2004

with Trinity-Saint Francis Hospital was the first in the state to

join the national network of hospital-based violence intervention

programs (HVIPs) of the Health Alliance for Violence Intervention

(the HAVI) network. Augmenting

this network, the new CT HVIP

Collaborative we initiated with medical

and frontline intervenor partners

— and supportive legislators — is

working to expand and sustain HVIP

services statewide, linking prevention

to federal Victims of Crime Act and Medicaid resources.

In a real sense, the pandemic, economic, and racial justice

crises that blew up in 2020 have reinforced our motivation —

and inspiration — to fine tune our capabilities and achieve even

greater positive results in 2021 and beyond.

Andrew Woods, MSW, VPP

HCTC Executive Director



Hartford Communities that Care (HCTC) has been focused on

violence prevention and developing community relationships

since 1998. In this year of extremes, HCTC was able to draw upon

deep community connections to pursue not only its primary

mission, but also to address the dueling crisis of an overdue

national reckoning with the many inequitable systems of deepseated

racial injustice.

The HCTC umbrella covers four programs, each designed and

staffed as fully as possible to implement best practices with

measurable outcomes: The Hartford Care Response Team; the

CT HVIP Collaborative; the Greater Hartford Youth Leadership

Academy; and the Community Health Worker Program.

This report spotlights how each program

has adapted to address the festering public

health crisis of urban gun violence, even as

those painful conditions worsened with the

unfolding crises of COVID-19 and its economic


In each program, HCTC in 2020 relied upon civic engagement and

advocacy, in partnership with government, private, and nonprofit

agencies here, statewide — and across the nation — to expand

services and broaden the scope of interventions on behalf of

unserved and underserved families, primarily young men of color.

Building coalitions has been a core HCTC strategy since its

founding. This year, pursuing our mission of preventing and

reducing community violence, we added Bridgeport StreetSafe

as a partner in our CT Hospital Violence Intervention Program (CT

HVIP) collaborative. Partnerships with our frontline counterparts

in New Haven deepened with several capacity building sessions.

At the same time, we continued to develop relationships within

Hartford and with key legislators, including Senator Douglas

McCrory, Speaker of the House of Representatives Matt Ritter

and Representative Jillian Gilchrest. On the federal level, we

enhanced our longtime collaborations with Rep. John Larson

and Senator Chris Murphy, whose support of our March For Our

Lives youth chapter has been ongoing — and whose book The

Violence Inside Us illuminates our work. In 2020, the North End

neighborhood served by HCTC experienced unprecedented food

insecurity and a striking rise in violence right along with the high

infection rates of the novel coronavirus disease of COVID-19.

Responding at the neighborhood level with longtime Community

Safety Coalition partners (see the listing at the close of this

report) and Harriott Home Health Services, among many other

advocates, timely delivery of food, face masks, and infectioncontrol

information touched more than 300 families. Walk-up

and drive-in testing events at conveniently located mobile sites

served more than 1,100 residents. Our new Community Health

Worker Program to enhance neighborhood outreach makes

further advances in outreach every week.

Throughout these difficult months, the Greater Hartford Youth

Leadership Academy (GHYLA) continued to thrive under Director

Eddie Brown. During this year in particular, culturally competent

youth leadership development required significant growth in data

interpretation and problem-solving skills.

Our youth responded by dovetailing research with deeper

knowledge of their community, and by sharpening their skills in

communications and dialogue to become stronger advocates,

both individually and as a cohort. Understanding the high stakes

of violence prevention, we are professionalizing this work.


The Mission of

Hartford Communities That Care

As a leader and advocate for victims of violence and trauma in

underserved communities, Hartford Communities That Care

(HCTC) has earned neighborhood trust over more than 20 years,

focused on our mission:

HCTC shall create a non-violent and drug-free environment

through the coordination of vital services, promotion of

education and healthy lifestyles and practices, and by the

formation of collaborative partnerships with key members

of the community.

With our partners in crisis response, clinical care, and youth

leadership development, we have focused on preventing and

reducing gun violence and improving health outcomes for more

than two decades.



Four Core Programs

I. The Hartford Care Response Team

II. The CT HVIP Collaborative

III. The Greater Hartford Youth Leadership Academy

IV. The Community Health Worker Program

Emphasis on Professional Development




Four Core Programs with

Measurable Outcomes

I. The Hartford Care

Response Team

In 2004, HCTC partnered with Saint Francis Hospital to form what is now

the Hartford Care Response Team (HCRT), a hospital-based violence

intervention program (HVIP). It has since intervened and provided care

to more than 1,200 victims of violence and their families and loved ones.

With research showing victims affected by violence are at higher risk to

re-experience violence or be re-injured, the HCRT engages with victims

as soon as allowed — often at bedside right

after injury, when trauma informed support can

be a powerful force in creating positive future

outcomes. From this critical “golden moment”

on, the response team builds a relationship

with the victim and family, following best

practices. Under a 2019 Victims of Crime Act

(VOCA) grant, the HCRT has been able to

further expand offerings, connecting families

to the physical health, mental health, and wraparound social services

that help prevent and reduce crime in our community.

Provided care to more than


victims of violence and their



In 2020, Program Director Larry Johnson and Lead Case Manager

Shenell Benjamin led the HCRT through a tumultuous year of

shootings, providing care and support to well over 200 individuals

and families impacted by violence. Increased gunshot injuries as

well as the rates of COVID-19 infections have required the HCRT

to expand its services in concert with local and statewide HVIP

partners and seasonal workers. During this time, team members

participated in a number of professional development trainings and

networking opportunities geared to sharpen their skills and forge

meaningful relationships that help buffer the traumatic stressors

associated with the demands of this work. These activities included:

• The Health Alliance for Violence Prevention

(the HAVI) Brave Space Networking

• The HAVI’s Violence Prevention Professional

Certification Training (VPP)

• The Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Contact

Tracer Certification Course

Additionally, Mr. Johnson capped off the year by accepting a special

invitation to apply to participate in the HAVI’s new working group,

Empowering the Front Line. It will convene a small team of front

line workers to lead professional development reform by analyzing

remuneration and creating a national pay-matrix for front line work;

developing and maintaining a resource binder for front line workers;

and planning and facilitating a quarterly “Brave Space” to assist

colleagues in building camaraderie and comparing notes on case

management. The first monthly meeting will be in January 2021.

In 2020, the HCRT has been able to continue its mission of coordinating

critical services and implementing evidence-backed interventions.

This proved especially vital in the months since COVID-19 hit and staff,

volunteers and community partners were forced to pivot and expand

existing services to meet new, urgent needs.

Case Management

HCRT outreach goes beyond the traumatic incident, as case

managers continue follow up with victims for six months to a year

after incidents. Frequently, many of the victims and families who

did not immediately accept services will re-engage with HCRT

months later. To reduce the probability of re-victimization, HCRT

provides wide-ranging wraparound assistance, as its assigned

case managers assist with housing and food support. These case

managers also facilitate accessing funds from VOCA to support

funeral expenses and other costs of living.

Promoting Physical and

Mental Healing

An existing partnership with the professional nurses of Harriott

Home Health Services connects victims of crime with at-home

wound and physical health care. In addition, healing is supported

through a partnership with the Family Medical Center at Asylum

Hill. Resident physicians from the Family Medical Center (a

UCONN Health and Trinity Health New England partner) make

themselves available as needed on one day per week for home

visits to victims, reducing the burden on caregivers to find

transportation. For many victims, these services also provide

a more convenient — and less costly — alternative to their

having to return to the emergency room for procedures such

as removal of stitches. In addition to saving the families money,

at-home care saves taxpayer dollars (as they often foot the bill

for uninsured or underinsured victims). Clients’ mental health

also is supported by referrals to community partner agencies

specializing in trauma-informed, culturally responsive therapies.


Families Served by HCRT in 2020

Hartford Police CompStat data from January 1 through

December 26, 2020 show 222 shooting victims citywide, which

was a 56 percent increase over 2019. In cases that do not exactly

overlap (as the HCRT serves not only shooting victims, but

victims of stabbings

and violent assaults),

the HCRT specialists

connected with 195

victims of violence

region-wide in 2020,

with services also

extending to another 52 individuals — the family members and

loved ones of those victims.

Hiring Seasonal Workers

The combined impacts of COVID-19 and the rise in incidences of

violence in Hartford this year created a need for more intervention

specialists at HCTC. As the agency began to prepare for year two

of its VOCA grant funding, it was determined necessary to secure

funding for seasonal staff to do everything possible to support an

already underserved population. In all, seven temporary workers

were hired. These included additional interventionists as well as

an administrative coordinator. These hires proved to be perfectly

timed, as the community has endured a major uptick in violence

since the start of the year — and the addition of seasonal staff

members allowed HCRT to engage on some level with 97 percent

of victims. Looking ahead to 2021, the HCRT plans to retain several

of these temporary workers to continue to meet the needs of those

affected by violence.

Hearing Victims’ Voices

(2018 Photo)

Exemplifying courageous community engagement,

the late Ms. Hattie Harris served as HCTC Board

Member from 2004-2020 (pictured above with HCTC

Executive Director Andrew Woods and current Board

Chair Howard K. Hill). Her legacy of listening to victims’

voices continues today, thanks to the advocacy of State

Senator Douglas McCrory and Chief Justice Richard

Robinson, as Mr. Woods was appointed to serve on

the State Office for Victim Services Advisory Council.

It is crucial to have a Hartford community voice in this

public forum, to report challenges, patterns of need, and

trends tracked by HCTC in its direct service to nearly

1,200 victims of violence. This perspective is crucial to

lawmakers, as they align their decisions and priorities

with their urban constituents.


Rapid Coronavirus Response

Spring of 2020

Beginning in April of 2020, COVID-19 hit the North End Hartford

community hard. Rates of infection were high, but in addition,

the ripple effects of the pandemic had a major impact. Many

residents were receiving conflicting information about testing,

quarantining, and other virus protocols. Recognizing that many

early testing sites were drive-up only, limiting access, HCTC

with its partners Harriott Home Health Services and Hartford

HealthCare supported five walk-up mobile sites for COVID-19

testing during April, May and June. These testing events were free

and open to the community, allowing participants to safely and

quickly be tested.

HCTC knows the value of meeting the

community in a comfortable and familiar

space — as well as the importance of having

trusted community representatives at these


With guidance from the Connecticut Department of Public

Health, Public Safety officers from Hartford HealthCare, and

supervision from HCTC staff, service was provided to more than

1,000 residents.

Our community partner, Harriott Home Health Services, was

instrumental to the success of the testing events, providing

technical assistance, training and leadership in the development

of safety protocols for staff and volunteers directly involved. In

addition to safely providing these protocols for the community,

HCTC provided safety equipment to its staff (including face

shields, N95 masks, gowns and gloves). Staff also were invited to

get tested at these events to make sure they were staying healthy

during their community outreach work. Longtime community

partner Fairview Capital supported this effort by providing 1,250

N-95 masks for those directly involved in the COVID-19 response

effort, which went beyond testing to include the Community

Safety Coalition’s food distribution efforts.

As the outreach became more efficient, HCRT received positive

feedback from a range of stakeholders, including clients, clergy,

and medical team members. One, Director of Medical Education

Dr. Thomas Nowicki of Hartford HealthCare, told us that “The

partnership with Hartford Communities that Care and Harriott

Home Health was instrumental in establishing a connection to

the community,” so much so that only a fraction of those tested

would have been reached without the trust HCRT has in this highneed

area. The team at HCTC managed the flow of information

efficiently and provided a familiar and comforting face while doing

so, Dr. Nowicki pointed out.

A Proactive Response

Alert to the importance of staying safe and healthy in the coming

months, HCTC has taken a proactive approach to preparation.

Identified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as

State and regional health officials, contact tracing is an important

tool in preventing the next outbreak and to that end, HCTC has

provided access to training for all of its volunteers and staff.

This comprehensive training course, given remotely by the

Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, provides wide-ranging

knowledge of the evolution of COVID-19 and the importance of

contact tracing to controlling spread — as well as guidance as to

its practical application. Each of the 15 HCTC staff and volunteers

completed this training by May 31, 2020, in preparation for the

frontline support efforts moving forward.


Meeting the Urgent Need for Food

The COVID-19 pandemic did not create systemic issues of

food insecurity, but it exacerbated the shortages families

previously faced. In its role as a member of the Community

Safety Coalition (CSC), HCTC took the lead in obtaining fresh

food, nonperishables and hygiene products to provide to the

most vulnerable. These activities involved the entire CSC team,

which includes; the Blue Hills Civic Association, COMPASS Youth

Collaborative, Mothers United Against Violence, and the YMCA of

Greater Hartford-Wilson Gray YMCA.

During the spring, the CSC’s biweekly food distribution effort

tapped numerous community agencies to identify families in


Altogether, 200 families and 85 seniors

received fresh fruit and vegetables, nonperishable

food items, toilet paper and other

cleaning and personal sanitary products, as

well as individual masks and information on

COVID-19 testing and available resources.

Over the five distributions led by HCTC, 11,720

pounds of fresh produce were distributed.

the pandemic, including safety protocols and resources for

testing and care.

Speaking for many during the spring 2020 pandemic

outbreak, a food recipient named Debra took time to

communicate her thanks, revealing that the family members

on whom she usually could depend simply did not have food

to share. Hence, the “nice and fresh, not old” vegetables

supplied by the HCRT were right on time, she told us.

In planning the logistics for these deliveries, the Community

Safety Coalition, with HCTC leading the effort, followed

CDC guidelines to ensure that staff, volunteers, agency

professionals and clients could efficiently and safely pack,

sort, and receive all items. Safety and maintaining the CDC

guidelines were the dominant factors guiding this process, as the

numbers of volunteers were kept to a minimum and assignments

staggered. Each volunteer received personal protective

equipment (PPE) in the form of a gown, gloves, an N95 mask and

an optional face shield. The N-95 masks provided by Fairview

Capital were disseminated as part of this effort.

HCRT Program Director Larry Johnson noted that the delivery

of food during the height of the first wave of the pandemic,

from March to June 2020, also helped make meaningful contact

possible with clients who had become isolated. Food distribution

became a way for the Community Safety Coalition to not only

make sure the basic needs of its constituents were being met —

but also provided a means to distribute information specific to

Hartford Community Safety Coalition Partners Mother’s United Against Violence and

COMPASS Peacebuilders prepare deliveries




Across the nation and internationally, a leading-edge best practice

for preventing and reducing community violence is the hospitalbased

violence intervention program (HVIP) model. In Hartford

and statewide, interest in the multidisciplinary teamwork of HVIPs

has grown among medical institutions and community agencies

alike — and led to HCTC’s formation in January 2020 of the CT HVIP

Collaborative (CT HVIP).


In its inaugural year, the CT HVIP built upon and expanded the

14-year partnership between HCTC and Saint Francis Hospital —

the Hartford Care Response Team founders — and extended the

HVIP hospital/community agency safety net across Connecticut.

New hospital and community partners include Yale-New Haven

Hospital and its frontline agency, the CT Violence Intervention

Program, as well as the emerging HVIPs of Hartford Hospital and

Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and emerging community

partner, Bridgeport StreetSafe.

Our national partner, the Health Alliance

for Violence Intervention (the HAVI),

has provided policy guidance, training

and technical assistance along the way,

including, in December of 2020, an

intensive, six-day Violence Prevention

Professional (VPP) certification session

providing frontline workers with details

on the continuity of best practices.

The CT HVIP will continue to move forward in 2021 with a focus

on building out our three work groups (Policy, Research &

Evaluation, and Training & Technical Assistance) and will continue

to steward relationships with vital partners that include the

Connecticut Hospital Association, the Hartford Foundation for

Public Giving and leaders in the Connecticut General Assembly.

several committees at the General Assembly. During the 2020

Legislative Session, Executive Director Woods was asked to

present before the Legislature’s Medical Assistance Program

Oversight Council (MAPOC) Women and Children’s Health

Subcommittee. Co-chaired by Rep. Jillian Gilchrest and Amy

Gagliardi, this subcommittee sought and received presentations

on the new CT HVIP collaborative, as well as the cost savings

in Medicaid and other taxpayer benefits demonstrated through

HCTC interventions.

Key Legislative Relationships

Amidst COVID-19 outbreaks, our CT HVIP hospital and frontline

partners have continued to brief legislative partners,

including Congressman John Larson, State Sen. Douglas

McCrory, and State Reps. Matt Ritter and Jillian Gilchrest (among

others), on HVIP capacity building. By monitoring other states’

legislative and administrative techniques to fund prevention

work under the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and via

Medicaid reimbursement, we also are exploring options for how

Connecticut can support best prevention practices through a

legislative allocation.

CT HVIP at the Capitol

Hartford Communities that Care Executive Director Andrew

Woods, along with program partners across the agency and

its CT Hospital Violence Intervention Program collaborative

(CT HVIP), have had the opportunity to make presentations to

Youth Leader Joshua Fee interviews CT House Speaker Matt Ritter


III. The Greater Hartford

Youth Leadership


With its focus on culturally-conscious youth

leadership development ever since the founding

of HCTC in 1998, the Greater Hartford Youth

Leadership Academy (GHYLA) is a cornerstone

of this agency. Following the tragic surge of gun

violence in the city in the early 2000s, HCTC was

forced to expand its reach and create a crisis

response team that gradually added clinical care

and wraparound recovery services to prevent

and reduce gun violence.


HCTC’s original commitment remains: to engage young people

of color in the prevention and reduction of community violence,

encouraging their growth as advocates. This we accomplish

through leadership development activities through which

young people identify problems, research root causes and local

conditions, and develop data-driven recommendations that

elevate issues of concern to them, their families and their peers.

In 2020, the adaptation of the GHYLA to adjust to the pandemic

was far and away one of the bright spots of our organization, as

these highlights demonstrate:

1. Guided by Program Director Eddie Brown, the youth leaders

refined their existing “Raising Youth Voices” podcast series to

further the cause of uncovering and addressing root causes

of urban gun violence. Whereas the youth in recent years had

been practicing the process of researching issues, preparing

questions based on data, and engaging community, statewide

and professional leaders in dialogue, the COVID-19 outbreak

challenged them to delve into new issues — and acquire new


2. In addition to creating and executing its podcasts, the GHYLA

researched numerous topical issues by participating in

online Zoom and WebEx forums, including a probe of police

accountability measures as passed by the U.S. House of

Representatives in its George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

(with Congressman John Larson).

3. In January of 2020, the youth attended the 18th annual

college recruitment fair of the Historically Black Colleges

and Universities (HBCUs) in suburban Washington, D.C.

— the largest annual such festival in the nation. Offerings

included on-site admissions interviews, music auditions, and

information about application fee waivers and scholarships, as

well as seminars on successful transition to college.

Civic Engagement for Youth

Engagement of youth in the civic landscape is

one of the greatest drivers of their active roles

in shaping future policy. The Greater Hartford

Youth Leadership Academy (GHYLA) has

continued to build and maintain relationships

with elected leaders and their staff members,

including Congressman John Larson’s office. The

GHYLA’s ongoing “Raising Youth Voices” podcast

series is an increasingly vibrant platform for this

engagement. In fact, throughout 2020, the youth

conducted interviews with key state and national

policy makers as well as violence prevention

specialists — and their podcasts served as a forum

for the youth to engage each other and many

diverse professionals in guided conversations

illuminating urgent issues and historic inequities.

Understanding the landscape and the context

of specific policies to alleviate poverty, equalize

education, and prevent violence and trauma, as

related to preventing urban gun violence, has been

a priority for the GHYLA since 2017.


4. The GHYLA leaders studied critically important issues related

to Community-Based Violence Intervention and Prevention;

Education During the New Normal of COVID-19; and Child

Injury and Fatality Prevention services. These issues provided

the framework for conversations during the year with peers,

community leaders and health policy leaders, leading to

the presentation of youth perspectives in the continuously

expanding virtual podcast series [available on YouTube, by

searching “Raising Youth Voices”].

5. The youth participated in a national stakeholder meeting

with Trinity Health of New England/St. Francis Hospital,

the national, Child Safety Forward Initiative to Reduce

Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities and Injuries through a

Collaborative, Community-Based Approach. This featured

weeks of youth preparation and ongoing research into Child

Injury and Fatality Prevention services, which led the youth

to develop and present final recommendations at a national

online workshop.

6. In the fall, the youth participated in the “Excelerator: A

Community in Action Initiative of the Alliance for Strong

Families and Communities,” a four-session series focusing

on Using Lessons Learned from Natural Disasters and

Tragedies to Inform COVID-19 Response and Recovery

Activities; Building Justice and Equity in Child Welfare

Agencies; Resilience and Learnings from Brain Science; and

21st century Child and Family Well-being Systems and a Pivot

toward Prevention. For each of these 90-minute sessions,

the youth participated as commentators, synthesizing

their perspectives after hearing from social workers,

neuroscientists, agency CEOs, and both providers and

recipients of child welfare services. In addition to sharing their

reactions and understanding of the content and previewing

forthcoming topics, the youth experienced high-level analyses

of the data and issues regarding family separation.

7. The interchanges spanned the youth participants’ own

firsthand experiences with foster care as well as their

conceptualization of potential improvements to reduce the

system’s negative impacts of stress and trauma on physical

health [these conversations also can be found on the GHYLA’s

“Raising Youth Voices” YouTube Channel].

The GHYLA youth leaders also continued to form partnerships

and expand their engagement in community, as, for example, by:

• Providing access to weekly sessions both in person and

online to make sure every participant could attend in a

way that was comfortable to them and their families.

• Assisting with the packing and distributing of fresh food

and sanitary supplies for 300 families over five events at

the height of the pandemic.

• Establishing partnerships with Trinity Health of New

England (the St. Francis Hospital Hartford Team) for

the Child Safety Forward Initiative and The Alliance for

Strong Families and Communities, including formation

of a Child Injury and Fatality Prevention work group

and presentation of recommendations to various

stakeholders for multiple discussions.

• Connecting three youth to become Youth Planning

Council members for an upcoming State of Health Equity

Among Boys and Men of Color Summit, scheduled for

June of 2021 (to be hosted by UConn’s Health Disparities



• Leading a conversation across racial and socioeconomic

divides, in partnership with the Jewish Teen Learning

Connection of West Hartford, deepening civic


• Attending the National Action Network’s “2020

Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks,”

in Washington, D.C., celebrating the 57th Anniversary

commemoration of the “I Have a Dream” speech of

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The 12 youth who attended

heard from civil rights leaders as well as family

members of recent victims of police violence, in an

inter-generationally-inclusive day of advocacy for

comprehensive police accountability reform; the Census;

and mobilization of voters for the November 2020


• Joining Blue Hills Civic Association for a focus Group

led by Dr. Reginald Eadie, President and CEO of Trinity

Health of New England, on what the medical community

can do to earn and deserve increased trust from the black

community around public health interventions, including

the COVID-19 vaccine.

• Currently collaborating with Hartford Parent University

and the Child Safety Forward’s parent and community

engagement workgroup to host a Safe Sleep Awareness

Virtual Conference in January 2021.

National Networking

This year, HCRT Program Director Larry Johnson

joined the ranks of HCTC staffers serving on the

national workgroups of the key CT HVIP policy

partner, the Health Alliance for Violence Intervention

(the HAVI). This special working group will consist of

a small team of front line workers who will conduct

comparative analyses of how programs are paying

workers, create a national pay-matrix for front line

work, create and maintain a resource binder for front

line workers, and plan and facilitate a quarterly Brave

Space. The first meeting will be in January 2021 and

the working group will meet monthly thereafter.

Having served since 2018 on the HAVI’s Policy and

Research & Evaluation working groups, Andrew

Woods has been invited to be a member of the

HAVI’s Racial Equity Task Force, an opportunity to

work with colleagues nationwide to develop a shared

framework and understanding for promoting racial

equity — as a key component in all aspects of our

work. As a Task Force member, Mr. Woods will join

other HAVI Member Programs, Staff, and Advisory

Board Members in advancing racial equity policies

and practices within the organization. The first

meeting will be in February 2021.


IV. Community Health

Worker Program

In 2021, providing residents

more than


week to

500masks prevent the

spread of


Darlene Childs was welcomed in the fall to lead

HCTC’s newly established Community Health

Worker Program, funded by the Connecticut Health

Foundation and the City of Hartford, with partners the

Hispanic Health Council and Family Life Education.

A regional initiative to continue the public health

response to the pandemic, the program in its first

months hired Community Health Workers (CHWs)

to provide outreach, education, and distribution of

COVID-19 information to more than 3,000 Greater

Hartford residents and merchants.


In addition, staff from the Community Health Worker Program

have — or are working towards — degrees in these areas

of focus: Human Services, Criminal Justice, Business and


The activities of the CHWs included:

• Distribution of face masks, hand sanitizers and tips to

prevent COVID-19 infection, where to get tested and available

resources and support for those affected by the virus;

• Collaboration with Howard K. Hill Funeral Services to

distribute more than 10,000 boxes of food to residents across

Greater Hartford, including public health (COVID-19) and

public safety (victims of violent crime) information.

• Participation in a number of professional development

trainings, including:

• The Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Contact

Tracer Certification Course

• The HAVI’s Violence Prevention Professional

Certification Training (VPP)

• Privacy considerations under the Health Insurance

Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

• Crisis Prevention and Intervention (CPI)

• The American Red Cross First Aid and CPR


In 2021, the Community Health Workers are continuing frontline

outreach to the Greater Hartford community, providing residents

and merchants more than 500 masks each week to help prevent

the spread of Covid-19. Plans also call for the new Community

Health Workers to track trends in virus surge; distribute

masks and information on testing sites; and provide resources

concerning basic needs such as food and housing.

Bringing Federal Support Home

According to data from the Census Bureau, the City

of Hartford had one of the lowest rates of returning

census forms in Connecticut. In an effort to raise

the number of surveys returned and increase the

level of representation from Hartford, HCTC was

honored in August of 2020 to partner with Blue

Hills Neighborhood Block Watch Leader Rhonda

Leonard, who hosted Senator Chris Murphy’s efforts

to raise awareness on the importance of completing

the decennial U.S. Census. During this outreach,

Senator Murphy engaged dozens of residents in

the Blue Hills neighborhood, gaining insight on

the challenges faced by residents and sharing why

it’s important to complete the Census, both from

the standpoint of the community’s demographic

characteristics related to wealth inequality and its

eligibility for future programmatic resources.

On another front, Congressman John Larson

partnered with HCTC to host a Small Business

Administration (SBA) Forum, at which small minority

businesses met with the SBA, bankers and credit

union lenders concerning supports for enterprises

impacted by COVID’s drag on profits.


Emphasis on Professional


Despite the pandemic — and in response to it — HCTC leadership

maintained its focus on providing professional development and

training to staff and volunteers. These sessions ensure increased

knowledge of best practices and effective continuity of services.

Below is a sampling of staff and volunteer trainings completed

and workshops that staff and volunteers attended during 2020 to

continue enhancing their working knowledge.

Frontline Workers Capacity Building Session,

Health Alliance for Violence Intervention (the HAVI)

Brave Space, the HAVI

FRONTLINE VIOLENCE & Organizational Practice, the HAVI

The HAVI Violence Prevention Professional (VPP)

Certification Training

Engagement with Families Affected by Violent Crime,

HCRT - Crisis Intervention Training

COVID-19 Contact Tracing, Johns Hopkins University


Connecticut Judicial Branch


FOOD INSECURITY, Network of Care


Network of Care

STOP THE BLEED, Saint Francis Hospital

DCF Mandatory Reporter Training, Saint Francis Hospital

History of Hartford Violence, Training Consultant,

Carl Hardrick


Hospital Violence Intervention Program,

HVIP Onboarding Training

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

Preventing Gun Violence in The Big 3, HVIP Collaborative


Staff List

Andrew Woods, MSW, VPP

HCTC, Executive Director

Director, CT Hospital Violence Intervention Program Collaborative

Joseph Wilkerson, MBA

Deputy Director/ HR

Edward Brown, BS, Director

Greater Hartford Youth Leadership Academy

Shenell Benjamin, AS, VPP, Director of Case Managers

Hartford Care Response Team

Larry Johnson, VPP, Director

Hartford Care Response Team

Darlene Childs, MS, VPP, Coordinator

Community Health Worker Program

Areader (Ari) Cruz, MSW, VPP

Case Manager

Daniel Palmer, BS, VPP

Intervention Specialist/ Community Health Worker

Winston Kennedy, VPP

Intervention Specialist/ Community Health Worker

Samariya Smith, MSW, VPP

Intervention Specialist

Kelvin Lovejoy, AS, VPP

Intervention Specialist

Clifton Drayton, BS

Community Health Worker

Sherelle Reid, AS

Community Health Worker

Jennika Lebron, BS

Community Health Worker

Aaron Ellis

Community Health Worker

Annual Report Contributors:

Andre Harris, Photographer

Aaron Ellis, Photographer

Johanna Schubert, Writer & Administrative Coordinator, CT HVIP

Kent Ashworth, Writer & Researcher



The partners of HCTC — and advocates of its work — are instrumental to all progress:

Congressman John Larson

Senator Douglas McCrory

State Representative Matt Ritter

State Representative Jillian Gilchrest

State Representative Josiah Hall

State Representative Bobby Gibson

American Eagle Financial Credit Union

Bridgeport StreetSafe

Capital Workforce Partners

CENCAP Federal Credit Union

Connecticut Against Gun Violence

Connecticut Children’s Medical Center

Connecticut Department of Emergency Services

and Public Protection

Connecticut Department of Public Health

Connecticut Health Foundation

Connecticut Hospital Association

Connecticut Violence Intervention Program

Elizabeth Schiro and Stephen Bayer

Everytown Against Gun Violence

Giffords Law Center

Harriott Home Health Services

James & JoAnn Price Community Safety Fund

Hartford Foundation for Public Giving

Hartford Hospital

Phillips Health Center

The Health Alliance for Violence Intervention (The


Trinity Health of New England

(Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center)

Trinity College

UCONN Health

Yale New Haven Hospital

YWCA Hartford Region

Hartford Community Safety Coalition Partners:

Blue Hills Civic Association

COMPASS Peacebuilders

Mothers United Against Violence

YMCA of Greater Hartford (Wilson-Gray)


2550 Main Street, 3rd Floor

Hartford, CT 06120

Phone: 860.724.1223

Fax: 860.724.1225




In this year of extremes, HCTC drew upon

deep community connections to help address

multiple public health crises: COVID-19,

its economic distress … and the overdue

national reckoning with the many inequitable

systems of deep-seated racial injustice.

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