As Connecticut residents face the unprecedented public health crisis brought on by COVID-19, it’s critical that we are able to turn to our communities and take on this challenge together.

On Monday, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving launched the COVID-19 Response Fund, which will rapidly deploy resources to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, including support for economically vulnerable populations, nonprofits on the front lines of this challenge and more. We’ve seeded this fund with $1 million and reached out to corporate partners for their support, because as these past several days have proven, we’re all in this together.

Community is the topic of the final episode of the Disinvested podcast, which we recorded months ago, long before COVID-19 began wreaking havoc on the economy and creating anxiety for Connecticut residents. Now, the idea of strengthening our communities and working toward shared goals seems more relevant than ever.

In this episode, you’ll hear Connecticut residents share their thoughts on why community is so important, and how we might begin to repair the social bonds that have been deteriorating for decades.

Listen to Episode 7: “What Does It Mean to Be Part of a Community?”

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Dennis House, Anchor for WFSB TV Channel 3: People love to see downtown thriving. But then on the other hand, they complain that on a Sunday they come down here and the Old State House is closed or they can’t find a cup of coffee. But I think that’s part of the big issue with Connecticut, is that people are down on it. They love to complain about it. “Cranky Yankees” we call them. … we have so much to offer, people shouldn’t necessarily knock on it.

I love being a part of the Metro Hartford community, I really do. I grew up in a town outside Boston called Norwood, Massachusetts that has a similar sense of community. When I go back there, I can walk into a restaurant and I’m probably going to know somebody … That’s just the way it is. I feel the same here. To be a part of a community is a wonderful feeling.

Diane Weaver Dunne, Executive Director of CRIS Radio: Quite simply, I think it means contributing whatever it is you have to contribute to make the community a better place for everybody to live.

Jim Venneman, West Hartford Resident: If people all work together and give to whatever they are interested in, it would be a better place.

David Owens, Hartford Courant reporter: I think it means caring about the health of that community, caring about the people in that community, wanting people to have better lives and be successful. Especially for children, just to be prepared for successful adulthood.

Kim Bishop, Executive Director of HYPE, Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs: It’s a relationship to be a part of a community. You have to be willing to put in your energy and efforts. and then also be willing to accept energy and efforts coming out of that community, as well. That’s what’s kept me in Hartford, is I think it’s the most fantastic community.

Iran Nazario, founder and President, Peace Center of Connecticut: I think community includes understanding of one another, acceptance of cultures, ethnicities and groups. But there are checks and balances, too. People have to be able to check you when you’re slipping a little bit and you should be able to do the same.

Julia Pistell, Managing Director, Sea Tea Comedy Theater: I think that it means you can trust the people around you to listen and support you. You can hangout and just talk. Honestly, it’s friendship. I think friendships are a really undervalued part of our culture now. …when you don’t spend time with just friends or people who are equals, you’re really missing out on a huge part of life.

Andrea Barton Reeves, former President and CEO, Harc Inc.: You don’t have to have homogeneity in order to have a strong community. What you really need to have is an understanding that you’re all working towards the same goal. We want to live in a community where we’re safe and where we’re valued.

Marilyn Rosetti, Executive Director, The Open Hearth: Let’s enjoy the ride, you know. Oftentimes in a community people don’t do that. They’re projecting what’s going to happen, but they forget to enjoy the ride.

Here’s a FULL TRANSCRIPT of Episode 7