Rotary Club of Meriden, Connecticut
 Meriden Buddy Bench
Rotary Club of Meriden


Local Residents Prove the Glass is More than Half Full


Editorial - Plainville Citizen

Those who maintain the world view that things are bad and getting worse certainly have an argument to make. But folks with a more positive mindset have plenty of evidence to bolster their belief as well. A few such feel-good stories appeared in these pages recently.

Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in Meriden received a pair of buddy benches last week, and students celebrated with an assembly, a pledge to be a good friend and a song. Students are encouraged to sit on a buddy bench if they are looking for a friend, and to ask kids sitting on the bench to play.

The Rotary Club collaborated with the school district to install the benches at all eight city elementary schools. The benches already have been presented to Hanover, Casimir Pulaski and John Barry schools.

“The benches are there for when you feel like you need a friend,” Rotary Club President Ty Bongiovanni told the Franklin kids. “It’ll always be there for you if you need it.”

On Sunday, people flocked to Serenity Salon and Day Spa in Wallingford for a cut-a-thon fundraiser. The event benefited Collin Reilly, a Cook Hill School first-grader battling brain cancer. The 7-year-old uses a feeding tube and is scheduled to start therapy involving a series of progressive steps to help him learn to eat again.

After learning of Collin’s story, Wallingford resident Neil Deschnow felt compelled to attend the cut-a-thon. “When I saw this story on Facebook I decided to come down,” Deschnow said. “The sole reason I came down was to donate for this family and child to help make sure he gets the care that he needs.” This was the ninth annual cut-a-thon at Serenity Salon and Day Spa for a child diagnosed with cancer.

“One of the great things is seeing how generous people can be when you ask them and when you tell them a heart-wrenching story like Collin’s,” salon manager Karen Poltronieri said. “Just to see the outpouring of love that people have.” Sunday’s cut-a-thon raised over $5,000 for Collin.

And the positive local stories kept coming. On Monday, about 20 girls at Meriden’s Washington Middle School learned about self-confidence during a after-school program presented by Cheshire Academy junior Tara Shaye Lynch.

Crowned New Haven County’s Outstanding Teen in October as part of the Miss Connecticut/Miss America organization, Lynch’s program is designed to help girls build self-confidence and character.

Sarah Stolfi, a seventh-grade teacher at Washington, invited Lynch to speak as a part of the REACH program, which Stolfi coordinates. REACH provides after-school academic support and enrichment activities for 64 Washington students.

“I struggled personally with my confidence before I started with the Miss America organization,” Lynch shared. Now, years later, the teenager does her part to empower young women.

Buddy benches, a well-attended fundraiser for a family in need, a speaker with an uplifting message. Yes, there is plenty of good out there.

Buddy Benches Arrive in Meriden Schools
Buddy Benches Aim to Help Lonely Kids

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