Happy Holidays to you all from Main Street Waterbury. I love this time of year in Downtown Waterbury. The City Center looks absolutely beautiful with bright holiday lights, newly installed pole banners, and decorated merchant windows. It is a great place to walk around and enjoy the spirit of the season.
Speaking of lights, Downtown and particularly our Green is sparkling with the beauty of new and recent lights strung in the trees as well as adorned on the spruce in the center. If that sight doesn’t get you in the spirit of the season, nothing will.
You may have also noticed that the Howland Hughes Center has been hosting the Festival of Trees this year. The entire first floor of this magnificent building on Bank Street is decorated with a multitude of Christmas trees and wreathes as well as other seasonal decorations. In addition, event planners have programmed many activities there to celebrate this time of year and showcase the recently opened Center. This space is available for many types of events and receptions throughout the year such as business expos and craft fairs. Other events that have already occurred there include the Scrabble Tournament, art exhibits, fashion shows and the Mayor’s inauguration ceremonies and reception.
Hosting the Festival of Trees was a natural for them as the space lends itself tremendously to the layout of a winter wonderland and conjures up very happy memories of shopping there particularly during this time of year.
For Main Street Waterbury, having this space available is a tremendous asset to downtown and adds an additional indoor events venue that is greatly needed. It has the potential to bring thousands of people into our downtown district throughout the year. We want to wish the best of luck to Hank Paine for his continued dedication to downtown Waterbury and to Jim Whitney of the Northwest Connecticut Conventions & Visitors Bureau who will be marketing the Center and coordinating the events there.
This is also the season for giving. One of the greatest gifts a person can offer is the gift of his or her time. That’s right, volunteering your time to the organization and/or cause of your choice. For Main Street Waterbury, your gift of volunteering for our organization is extremely important to us. The Main Street program is based on grass roots efforts from very dedicated volunteers who all share a common goal and enthusiasm for downtown revitalization. With Downtown Waterbury, this is very evident as all of our accomplishments over the past 4 years have been due to the tremendous energy and excitement of over 100 volunteers, and the number continues to grow.
Volunteering is a gift. It’s a gift that gives and receives so many rewards. The fact that you can contribute to your community in some way and make a difference is very important. Sometimes the benefits cannot be measured immediately. However, like one of the 8 principles of the Main Street program, incremental successes lead to a bigger reward over time and patience is the key word here.
The work done by our volunteers on so many levels has not always yielded immediate results. However, over time, and slowly but surely, Downtown Waterbury has been transforming into a much better place on so many levels.
Just look back to four short years ago when Main Street Waterbury was just beginning as a young organization. Our efforts, 4 years later, both visually and strategically, have made a huge difference. As I mentioned at the outset of this column, look at the lights, the banners, the planters, the cleaner streets, more restaurants, more events, and much more interest in Downtown Waterbury. This has happened incrementally and fundamentally because of the hard work of our volunteers. Our organization proves that you could give of your time, get involved and make a huge difference for our community.
It is important to realize that when you volunteer for an organization, you are an ambassador for that organization. While you may not be getting compensated with a salary, you are in effect working for that organization on some level. That carries with it an awesome responsibility.
Sometimes volunteers need to take a break. This is perfectly understandable. With Main Street Waterbury, we’ve always maintained that if you share our goals for Downtown Waterbury revitalization, believe in the Main Street program, its four points and eight principles, and are willing to share your ideas, you are always welcome to the table and after you take a break for a period of time, you are welcome back to the table. The Main Street process is such that not every idea can be acted on immediately. Also, it’s important to realize that not every Main Street project has an immediate visual effect to Downtown. But rest assured, much is going on and is ongoing at the same time.
We hold monthly volunteer orientation meetings to inform our potential volunteers about the history of Main Street, the accomplishments achieved to date, and the committee meetings and schedules.
As we approach 2008, please give the gift of your time and volunteer for Main Street Waterbury. You won’t be disappointed. If you want a schedule of volunteer orientation meetings and more information about our programs and projects, please contact my office at 203-757-0701 ext. 302 or email me at crosa@mainstreetwaterbury.com and remember, keep thinking Main Street Waterbury, Business, Culture, Education!