A mental health, art and wellness studio opens in Chester

MIDDLETOWN – As we enter the first full week of February, I would like to begin this week’s Chamber column by honoring Black History Month here in Middlesex County and across our country.

Black History Month is a time to celebrate the amazing contributions that African Americans have made in American history and indeed in world history.

As I realize each year around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I am so proud of the Chamber’s long and enduring partnership with the Middlesex County Chapter of the NAACP. I will always be grateful to its President, Faith Jackson, and former Middletown Councilman, John Robinson, for their ideas, friendship, and support.

This relationship extends to many other community organizations that continue to do great work every day of the year.

Black History Month is a special month, but it’s important to honor black history throughout the year, something we will continue to champion. Going forward, it is especially important that we all work together to improve our community and create a bright future for us and for generations to come.

chamber activities

This week is another busy week for the chamber team as it includes a number of important meetings and community events. On Monday morning, our chamber board meets in the chamber office and virtually.

Chair Maureen Westbrook will chair the meeting, which will include important updates on Chamber activities, as well as updates from Middlesex County’s public health, higher education and banking sectors.

As for the Chamber Division, we look forward to our Durham and Middlefield, Cromwell and Chester, Deep River and Essex Divisions meeting on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Wednesday’s meeting will be held at Torrison Stone and Garden in Durham. Thursday we go to Barb’s Pizza in Cromwell and Friday to Masonicare in Chester Village.

The Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council Advisory Committee will also meet at the chamber office on Friday morning. The committee, led by the Chair, Cromwell Town Manager Tony Salvatore, works to reduce drug abuse in our area through grassroots and community activities.

Finally, in addition to these meetings specific to our Chamber, I look forward to a virtual meeting Tuesday afternoon with the leaders of our state’s Metro Chambers of Commerce, collectively representing thousands of Connecticut businesses.

Digital communication session

On the chamber workshop front, the latest installment in our KeyBank workshop series is happening Tuesday at 9am via Zoom. This session, titled “Customer Retention: Build a Community of Loving Fans Through Digital Communication,” will teach attendees how to harness the power of email in their business to build positive, long-lasting customer relationships.

This workshop is presented by Carrie L. Smith of More Than Just Great Dancing. To register, please visit middlesexchamber.com.

business opening

Looking ahead to next week, I’m excited to travel to Chester on Monday morning for the grand opening celebration of the Love Your Mental Health Art & Wellness Studio. Owner Kim Pita has created a fun destination in the Village of Chester where visitors can collect, connect, craft and buy mindful treasures, crafts and handmade goods.

I look forward to joining Chester’s new First Selectwoman, Charlene Janecek, and other distinguished guests as we celebrate another great deal in Chester. We wish Kim all the best for the future.

Legislative Leadership Series

On the legislative front, the much-anticipated kick-off for our 2022 Legislative Leadership Series, originally scheduled for Friday, has been postponed to 8am on February 15 at the Inn at Middletown.

This in-person meeting will be chaired by House Speaker Matt Ritter, who will make a few remarks, and Chamber members will have an opportunity to ask questions about the upcoming session.

Thank you Updike, Kelly & Spellacy for sponsoring the event, especially our Legislative Co-Chairman Rich Carella and Speaker Ritter for visiting us at this critical time.

I also urge members and other interested parties to reserve February 25 for our annual Legislative Breakfast at the Courtyard by Marriott, Cromwell.

In memory of Mike Camilleri

I’m afraid I have to end this week’s column on a sad note following the recent death of Michael “Mike” Camilleri at the far too young age of 49, father first and foremost.

Professionally, he has had a distinguished career as an attorney, including with Brown Rudnick and most recently as global ethics and compliance officer for Pratt & Whitney.

Mike was also very involved with Cromwell, a church he loved. He has served on various boards and commissions, including serving on the Board of Education for 12 years and serving as Chair of the St Josephine Bakhita Church Council for many years.

He has also been a great support to our Chamber and served as Chairman of our Cromwell Division from 2010 to 2012.

Mike Camilleri made quite an impact during his tenure and his loss has been felt throughout our community.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Terri, daughters Megan and Jessica; and his entire family at this difficult time. May they find comfort in the fact that Mike has lived a life well lived and is truly missed by many.

Larry McHugh is President of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce in Middletown.

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