Eighty years of helping those in need

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Windsor - posted Mon., Oct. 28, 2013
Anne Wakelin, director of human services, Mayor Donald Trinks and Kristen Formanek, coordinator of social services, in front of a quilt made by the Friendship Quilters.  They are holding a proclamation declaring the 80th anniversary of Windsor Social Service Department. Photos by Lisa Stone.
Anne Wakelin, director of human services, Mayor Donald Trinks and Kristen Formanek, coordinator of social services, in front of a quilt made by the Friendship Quilters. They are holding a proclamation declaring the 80th anniversary of Windsor Social Service Department. Photos by Lisa Stone.

Eighty years ago, when Windsor residents were  facing the devastating effects of the 1929 stock market crash and an unending economic depression, Windsor Social Services was born. But looking out for the so-called “indigent” began much earlier than that. 

According to records discovered by Public Works Director Brian Funk and researched by Historian Roger Thompson, the “town farm,” a place where those in need could go and live, was originally located on East Street. The Hon. H. Signey Hayden owned the home which was given to the town as a “poor farm” in 1887.

The farm was operated until 1927, taking in people who needed shelter and food.  Two years later, with the arrival of the nationwide Depression, a completely new department was created in town to serve the needs of the growing number of local poor and needy.

“Due to the disastrous financial depression, which began in 1929, a new agency for administering relief had to be created in 1933,” said Thompson. “On Oct. 18 of that year, Mrs. Ethel K. Stowe was engaged by the town as a social worker in charge of the varied forms of relief work necessitated by the emergency conditions. She employed as her secretary Miss Lillian McElwain, and in April 1935, Miss Elna Duerell was added to her staff as an investigator. The gravity of the local situation is shown by the fact that in the month of January 1935, 132 families and 668 individuals were on the relief rolls.”

“We have come a long way from one social worker and one secretary,” said Social Services Coordinator Kristen Formanek.
An open house was recently held to commemorate the 80 years that the social services department has been serving Windsor families and individuals. Many past employees attended  and a proclamation was read by Mayor Donald Trinks in the department’s honor.

Now, the department is multifaceted, attempting to serve the needs of Windsor residents, young and old, hungry, homeless and in need of support. The Windsor Social Services office assists on average 195 case-managed clients per quarter.  The Windsor Food Bank currently has 559 registered households made up of 1,445 individuals of which 560 are under the age of 18 years.  They serve on average 302 households per month.

Last Thanksgiving, the Windsor Food Bank distributed over 274 turkeys to local families in need.

The Mobile Foodshare program serves on average 348 participants per month and the supplemental summer food program serves a total of 43 families including 97 children.  They also run a Groceries-To-Go senior food distribution program, which  currently has 120 seniors registered, along with the Weekend Wheels supplemental food distribution program for elementary school students, and monthly support groups.

Trinks said the most astounding number was that the Social Services office receives more than 13,000 requests for services annually.

While the original town farm was demolished in February of 1961, the present Social Services calls L.P. Wilson Community Center home.  If you are in need, or you would like to offer a donation of food, call 860-285-1839 to reach a caseworker.


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