Community Central: A Downtown Storefront Fosters Partnership
In just eighteen months, Community Central, located at 117 West Main Street in downtown New Britain, has become the core of connection among CCSU students and faculty, the Downtown District, and the New Britain School district.
Located in a 1,400 square-foot-storefront, Community Central exists to provide useable space and support for projects, programs, and small businesses aimed at connecting New Britain communities. “This is a permeable and passion-driven initiative,” says original founder, Associate Professor of Management and Organization Sarah Stookey. “Community Central would not have gotten off the ground if it hadn’t been for a close collaboration between CCSU, the Downtown District, and the school district,” which Stookey refers to as “three equal partners.”
Any CCSU student or faculty member can reach out to Community Central Director Hannah Hurwitz with a project, idea, or skill. She works tirelessly to provide support through networking and resources to help eager people manifest their goals in the greater community. Hurwitz, an Americorps VISTA participant, came to work for Community Central last fall.
Since her arrival, Hurwitz has forged partnerships with downtown businesses like The Hurricane District (New Britain High School store), The Connecticut Furriers, and Trinity-on-Main, each which provide internships for accounting and marketing students interested in getting job experience.
Hurwitz is quickly learning how “vital and loyal” the downtown community is to its neighbors. Just inside the storefront, a looming wall needed to be knocked down. Soon Hurwitz found herself talking with Dura Construction’s Charlie Paonessa, a life-long resident of New Britain, who offered to demolish the wall for free and salvage the used materials for his nonprofit called The ReCONNstruction Center which resells materials to the public at discounted costs.
As downtown New Britain businesses, the YMCA, and the New Britain school district come to rely on Community Central as a matchmaker, more opportunities surface for students looking to volunteer, intern, teach, and start new businesses. For two months this spring, the Nursing department offered free health screenings at Community Central; specially trained and certified accounting students were giving free tax assistance twice-a-week through April 15.
If you have interest in learning more about Community Central, please contact its director, Hannah Hurwitz, at firstname.lastname@example.org.