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A Journey of Discovery Into the Hearts And Minds of A Town

It has been told to me by many who move in the various sectors of Southington that it has an amazing spirit of unity, generosity and the kindness. I have discovered just that.

The title of today's column might suggest it, but it is not about a lifetime journey that began in the era of the Great Depression in my case. Rather, it's about my journey with you on Southington Patch through the past nine months.

Hmmm. I wonder if there is some ironic connection between today’s story of my 2011 journey and my early years of the 1930s, both having been times of widespread economic woes, both nationally and worldwide.

I started this column in January 2011 with the intention of writing a series exploring my experience during the 16 years since my retirement from the corporate business world. 

My new “career” began in 1995 when we moved to Southington, the place we chose to be our haven in the golden years. With some help into retirement from an outplacement service, I realized that I wanted to write and that I also wanted to live in the realm of church service and the fullest development of my personal life. After unplanned total immersion, this path led me into the even wider world of community service.

I was not startled but certainly amazed at how much needed to be done, who was doing it, and how many were becoming actively involved in this world of volunteerism, inspired through faith and the Spirit and the example of others. Soon I became aware of the phenomenal sense of personal reward for jobs that were without monetary compensation.

Some hold that "our retirement years are time for play and fun.” No argument from me. But, I found my chosen path was play and fun but with a much more productive societal result as well as being more rewarding more than I had ever previously experienced.

There was still a productive place in the world for me. Certainly I also attribute my own motivation to faith and a value system instilled in me since my years of weaning by nurturing and loving parents.

My only tools for the new job were the skills I had learned and honed during my years of education, military service and the business world plus my earlier years of community and church service during my working career.

The most exciting part of it all was my discovery of how many others there were around me with similar motivation using their own particular sets of acquired skills and talents.

This phenomenon was a sharp illustration to me of how much can be accomplished by a community of committed, caring people willing to make their town a better place, rallying in unity as critical needs emerged. It seems to me an inescapable observation that it takes heart and the people of a village to make life better, something that cannot be effectively legislated or directed by a government of over 300 million citizens.

I believe this in my heart and soul: Had it not been for the guiding Spirit that directed me, I might have missed out on the personal rewards of a second career in working with others to make life more tolerable for some stuck in more difficult economic circumstances.

For more specific illustrations, or a glimpse of what people are doing for others right here in Southington, search on my full name for my 39 columns where I have recounted the stories of Bread for Life, always caring for those who might otherwise be hungry, and about the broader range of needs fulfilled for those of limited means by Southington Community Services.

A truly wondrous experience has been to observe the synergistic effects of those two organizations working together, hand-in-hand.

We have written about the generous work of the Joe and Kay Calvanese Foundation, the United Way of Southington, the Calendar House Senior Center, the Knights of Columbus, our Interfaith Clergy Association, STEPS and the service through faith congregations of our youth in programs such as the Souper Bowl of Caring and the CROP Walk, as well as other stories of this genre.

We reported to you the way the people of Southington from all sectors, faiths and walks of life worked together in unity in our town-wide tribute to the victims of 9/11 on the Tenth Anniversary of the dastardly and mindless attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001.

It has been a privilege to witness, close up, these kinds of wonderful events and the selfless work of a legion of volunteers in my adopted town of Southington.

I invite you to come and bask in the sunshine of community service. It is far more rewarding to the donor of one's gifts of time, talents and treasure, than you might imagine, far more than any other form of compensation.

But all journeys come to an end. And so it is in the case of my brief but enjoyable stint with Southington Patch and its new and interesting approach to local news.

I sincerely thank you, my readers, for the support many of you gave us.

Now, I have other roads to travel, right here in my usual haunts and beyond, so I’ll see you around!

S10 October 09, 2011 at 11:46 AM
Dear Mr.Fortunato: It is so sad to hear that you will not be writing your column for the SouthingtonPatch anymore. Thank you for your informative and well written articles; we will miss them. Best of luck in your future endeavors.
E. Richard Fortunato October 09, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Thank you, S10, for your kind an heart-warming words which are sincerely appreciated. I am not yet in a position to be more specific about the next step in my path, though I did try to say, perhaps too gingerly, that I will not be out of the range of vision of our local readers. You see, telling my stories of life around us, as I see it, is my passion. Again, S10, thank you, and good reading.
Manmohan Singh Bharara (Manny) October 09, 2011 at 10:14 PM
Dear Mr. Fortunato: I always looked forward to your article on Southington Patch. Your writings carry the vibrations of Southington's heart and soul and have been uplifting our thoughts. we are going to miss your passion and compassion on Patch. We wish you the best and please keep writing Southington Stories...!!!
Clifford Snow October 13, 2011 at 05:49 PM
Dear Dick, Thank you sincerely for your articles in Patch, very intersting and informative. I also will miss them; however, I feel you will keep in touch with your readers. I wish you well in your new endeavor, what ever it is. From the Calendar House, Cliff Snow

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