Community News For The Manchester Edition

Jason In Concert: Home For The Holidays

MANCHESTER — Center Congregational Church, 11 Center St., is hosting Jason in Concert: Home for the Holidays, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3.

Jason Castonguay will play pipe organ and piano, as well as sing. Castonuay, 37, has been blind since birth. The musician grew up in Bristol and now resides in Manchester. He won a local Connecticut Idol competition, which advanced him to an audition of "American Idol" in Las Vegas. Additionally, in 2005, he won a spot performing with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

Tickets for the concert are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for students and free for children under age of 5. For more information about Center Church or this program, call 860-647-9941.

Celebrate Recovery

MANCHESTER — Do you have a habit? If you have ever been hurt, you may have developed a habit to relieve or escape your pain. Sometimes you may acquire a habit by bad example or almost by mistake. A habit is an addiction to someone or something.

Maybe 'Celebrate Recovery' is for you. You don't have to struggle alone. The group meets from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays at Manchester CHurch of the Nazarene, 236 Main St. For more information, call 860-646-8599.

Mysteries On Main Book Discussion

MANCHESTER — Join the discussion of "The Mistletoe Murders and Other Stories" by P. D. James in the Howroyd Room at the Mary Cheney Library, 586 Main St., on Monday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. Copies are available in the Library's Reference Department and at the Whiton Branch.

The free program is open to the public and registration is not required. Light refreshments will be served. For further information, visit http://library.townofmanchester.org or call 860-645-0821.

Historical Society Gala

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Historical Society is hosting 'A Sparkling Evening at Adams Mill' from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, at Adams Mill Restaurant, 165 Adams St.

Sparkly attire is suggested for this festive evening with dinner, socializing, holiday shopping, auctions, and music. Cost to attend is $50 per person. Visit www.manchesterhistory.org for entrée choices and a printable invitation on the events page. For reservations and questions, call 860-647-9983.

Pictured are volunteers Tom Scheutz and Ann Lucente, preparing auction items for the gala.

Tree Lighting

MANCHESTER — It's a merry Minion Christmas tree lighting in downtown Manchester.

The Honorable Jay Moran, Mayor of Manchester, will join favorite holiday characters to light the Downtown Manchester Tree on Thursday, Nov. 30, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the lawn of St. James Church, 896 Main St. For more info, visit www.downtownmanchester.org or call 860-645-2101.

Michael Forgetta of the Little Theatre of Manchester will serve as Master of Ceremonies. He will be joined by a pair of merry Minion characters along with Santa's reindeer.

The Silk City Barbershop Chorus, member of Little Theatre of Manchester and the ensemble from the Salvation Army Band will perform holiday favorites as everyone awaits the arrival of Santa via the town of Manchester's Fire/Rescue/EMS vehicle. The Salvation Army will keep attendees warm by offering complimentary hot chocolate. A holiday light show will complete the evening.

Attendees can help bring joy to a child in need by bringing a new, unwrapped toy to the Tree Lighting for distribution at the annual Blue Angels Holiday Party. The tree lighting is a rain or shine event.

Historical Society Open House

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Historical Society invites the public to an open house of its historic properties from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2. Visit the Cheney Homestead at 106 Hartford Road, decorated by the Manchester Garden Club for the holidays, the Old Manchester Museum at 126 Cedar St., and the History Center, 175 Pine St. The museum store at the History Center will be open. Enjoy a self-guided walking tour between the locations with a map containing historic commentary, available at www.manchesterhistory.org in the Special Features section of the Society's website.

New England Holiday Fair

MANCHESTER — St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 41 Park St., is hosting its Christmas in New England holiday fair on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The fair will include theme baskets, baked goods, tins of cookies, crafts, Christmas items, lunch, vendors and more. Admission is free, but a donation of a non-perishable food item is appreciated. For more information, visit www.stmarysct.org or call St. Mary's at 860-649-4583.

MCC's Classical Cuisine Dinner

MANCHESTER — Following Thanksgiving, keep the holiday spirit going with a lavish Russian-style meal and paired beverages at Manchester Community College, 60 Bidwell St., on Tuesday, Dec. 5, beginning at 6 p.m.

Students from MCC's award-winning culinary arts program will prepare and serve a seven-course gourmet meal featuring gravlax and caviar, roasted beet borscht, short rib of beef stroganoff, lemon sorbet, fish, and bird's milk cake for dessert.

The dinner will take place in the dining room of the college's Culinary Arts Center, located on the second floor of the Student Services Center. All proceeds from the dinner benefit hospitality student clubs and competition teams.

Tickets are sold in advance online only. Visit http://bit.ly/2dYQxJF for the full menu and to purchase tickets.

Garden Club Decorates Cheney Homestead

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Garden Club will be decorating the Cheney Homestead at 106 Hartford Road, for the holiday open house from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2. This is conjunction with the Manchester Historical Society Open House. Eight rooms in the home will be embellished with wreaths, decorated trees, and floral designs created by the members of the garden club. The event is free and open to the public. Donation are accepted.

Holiday Craft Fair

MANCHESTER — The Saint Bridget holiday craft fair will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at 74 Main St. More than 80 crafters will feature handmade hats and gloves, glassware, soap and lotions, Christmas décor and wreaths, wood carved items, jewelry, knitted blankets, knitted sweaters, hats and mittens, snowmen and handmade light-up reindeer, stocking stuffers, homemade special breads, doll clothing, ornaments and so more.

Hot lunches and baked goods will be for sale. Santa will be stopping by for a visit with his bag of goodies. The church is handicapped accessible. Admission and parking is free.

Photography Studio On Wheels Opens

MANCHESTER — D lamaria Studio is pleased to announce the grand opening of their photography studio on wheels at The Manchester Collection, 169-189 Hale Road, on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 2 to 5 p.m.

The ribbon cutting will take place the following week with the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. The business uniqueness is based on the tiny home concept, providing both convenience and comfort. Visit www.dlamariastudio.com for more information.

Community Action Agencies Accepting Energy Assistance Applications

AREA — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services just released $67,255,113 in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding. This amount is 90-percent of LIHEAP funds allocated for the State of Connecticut.

Connecticut residents struggling to pay their utility bills this winter can apply for home heating assistance through Connecticut's Community Action Agency Network. The Community Action Agencies (CAAs) are the only nonprofit agencies administering LIHEAP, which provides home heating assistance to Connecticut's most vulnerable residents. Each CAA has application intake sites throughout their service regions. Some sites may include local town halls, and customers should check with their local CAA for a complete site listing.

In Connecticut this program is called the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) and is housed under the Department of Social Services (DSS). The state's Community Action Agencies administer the $74M+ program locally in all 169 cities and towns. CAAs are now accepting CEAP applications for the 2017-2018 winter season and expect more applications in the coming weeks, especially as temperatures begin to drop. Homeowners and/or renters may apply, and funds may be used to pay for whatever source of heating residents have in their homes. This includes wood, electric, oil, kerosene, or natural gas.

CAAs will certify oil deliveries starting Wednesday, Nov. 15, for those who heat with oil, propane, and deliverable fuels. May 1, 2018, is the last day households can apply for benefits unless the household is utility heated and has a shut off notice for its primary source of heat. May 15, 2018 is the last day a utility heated household with a shut off notice for its primary source of heat can apply for benefits.

Another protection for Connecticut's struggling families is the utility moratorium, or winter hardship, which provides protection for eligible households against heat source shut-offs between November 1st and May 1st. Gas and electric utilities cannot be shut off (summer or winter) if lack of the utility creates a life-threatening situation. If a customer is having trouble paying their utility bills during the winter moratorium period, Community Action Agencies will work with them on affordable utility payment programs, including the Matching Payment Program (MPP) and Below Budget Payment Plans. MPP is a payment incentive program that allows eligible utility customers to maintain year-round electric and gas service and pay an agreed-upon amount each

month to pay down the balance on their heating bill. If customers cannot afford the utility payment plan, CAAs work with the customer and can submit a Below Budget Payment Plan based on the household income and expenses.

A CEAP benefit to a household automatically makes that household eligible for weatherization services. So, in addition to heating assistance, CAAs will refer customers to those agencies providing weatherization services, which helps minimize energy-related costs and fuel usage in homes through retrofits and home improvement measures. Additionally, there are funds available this year through the CAA for heating system repair and replacement if such services are deemed necessary and as the amount of funds allocated allow. Lastly, when a customer comes to a CAA for energy assistance, the agency will also assist customers in accessing other benefits for which they may be eligible including SNAP and other food programs, financial counseling, child care, and case management.

Connecticut's poorest families struggle each and every year to heat their homes in this a state with one of the highest utility rates in the country; customers many times having to choose between heating and eating or heating and paying for their medicines. CEAP allows them to not only cover high home energy costs and keep warm during the cold winter months, but gives low-income families the opportunity to address other critical, basic needs, rather than having to choose between them. Any resident who needs help paying their heating bill this winter should contact their Community Action Agency immediately.

For more information on Connecticut's Energy Assistance Program, how to find your local CAA to apply, or to make a donation, visit www.cafca.org or contact the Connecticut Association for Community Action (CAFCA), 144 Clinton Street, New Britain, CT, 06053, 860-832-9438.

Bolton Lakes Forum

VERNON — At 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, the Friends of Bolton Lakes will sponsor a forum where Professor Timothy Ku and his Wesleyan University Environmental Geochemistry class will present their research on plant and sediment samples collected from Middle and Lower Bolton Lakes.

The event will be held at Camp Newhoca Lodge, 185 Grier Road. Email friendsofboltonlakes@comcast.net with questions.

Their findings will highlight nutrient cycling and historical records of the lake environment, perhaps going back hundreds of years. The Friends of Bolton Lakes is an organization dedicated to protecting the Bolton Lakes which are located in Bolton, Coventry, Tolland and Vernon.

Write Out Loud Open Mic Nights

MANCHESTER — Come take part in youth-led poetry and hip-hop dance workshops and then close your night with performing and/or cheering on others who display their talent and creativity at Eastside Neighborhood Resource Center, 153 Spruce St., from 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 15, Jan. 26, Feb. 23, March 30, April 27 and May 25.

The open mic nights are for performers ages 13 through 19. No registration is required. Call 860-647-3089 for more information.

NAMI Meetings

MANCHESTER — The National Alliance for Mental Illness support group will hold their regular meeting on the third Thursday of every month. The location of the meeting will be held at the Center Congregational Church, 11 Center St., from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

This meeting is open to all families and friends of people with mental illness and focuses on sharing experiences and information. All information is confidential. For more information on the meeting or becoming a member of NAMI, call Karen at 860-649-5659.

MCC Winter Intersession Classes

MANCHESTER — Registration is now open for Manchester Community College's winter 2017-18 intersession. Applications are now being accepted for new or returning students who want to enroll during this session, which begins Dec. 26 and runs through Jan. 11, 2018.

Courses include topics in accounting, art, astronomy, biology, business, communication, computers, criminal justice, digital arts, economics, English, health, history, humanities, philosophy, psychology and sociology. Online and traditional classroom sections are available.

In addition, the credit-extension program is open to all non-MCC students who want to accelerate their studies and transfer the credits they earn back to their home institutions. Students looking to do this must check to make sure the credits are transferable back to their institution, as there are no refunds past the allowable drop period whether the course is transferable or not.

Students who have not taken a credited course at MCC or any of the Connecticut community colleges must pay a non-refundable $20 application fee. An MCC application for admission is required. Visit www.manchestercc.edu/catalogs for more information.

Jewish Life

MANCHESTER — Beth Sholom B'nai Israel invites people to come and see its community, be a part of Jewish life in Manchester and meet the clergy. Religious School is tuition free for members; the school is open to all Jewish children. For more information, visit www.myshul.org or call 860-643-9563.

Pet Food Drive

MANCHESTER — Bennet PTSA representatives are holding a pet food and supply drive to benefit Manchester residents through Manchester Animal Control. They are collecting crunchy and canned dog and cat food, used tennis balls and waste bags. Email bennetacademyptsa@gmail.com for more information.

Yoga Classes

MANCHESTER — Morning and evening yoga classes for people of all levels will take place at the Meetinghouse of Unitarian Universalist Society: East, 153 Vernon St. West. For more information, visit www.uuse.org or 860-646-5151.

Cost to attend is $40 per eight-week session or a $6 drop-in fee. Guests are asked to bring a yoga mat or large towel and wear loose clothing. First-time students are asked to arrive 10 minutes early.

Poets And Writers

MANCHESTER — The Wit & Wisdom Poets and Writers Club in Manchester is looking for new and established poets and writers. Club meetings are held at the Arbors, 403 W. Center St., on the second Saturday of each month, between 1 and 3 p.m. For more information, contact Charles Gilbert at 860-647-7348 or email Debbie at wwpoetryclub@gmail.com

MCC Library Goes Live

MANCHESTER — As part of the Integrated Library Project, the Raymond F. Damato Library at Manchester Community College has gone live with a comprehensive online search tool that will find and deliver materials stored not just at MCC but also at the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) libraries and the Hartford-based Connecticut State Library.

Any state resident of high school age or older with valid ID is welcome to register as a borrower at MCC's Library. To use the new search tool, visit www.manchestercc.edu/library and enter keywords.

Youth Mini Grant Program

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Youth Commission is requesting proposals for mini grants. Applications for the Manchester Youth Commission Mini Grant Program are available at townofmanchester.org. Contact Heather at 860-647-5215, or heatherw@manchesterct.gov for details.

Hoopla Digital Content Available

MANCHESTER — Manchester Public Library card holders can download the free Hoopla digital mobile app on their Android or iOS device or visit hoopladigital.com to begin enjoying thousands of titles. Once registered patrons can borrow up to 10 items each month and Hoopla digital's automatic return feature eliminates late fees. Hoopla allows multiple simultaneous downloads so there is no wait to borrow. Titles are available for instant streaming or temporary downloading. To learn more about this exciting new offering click on the "Online Databases" link at library.townofmanchester.org.

MS Support Group

MANCHESTER — The Manchester MS Support Group meets at the Presbyterian Church, 394 Lydall St., at 10 a.m. on the first Monday of each month. Contact Nancy at 860-742-5155 or Karen at 860-746-4247. Visit ctfightsMS.org or call 800-FIGHT MS.

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