CT Public Library Initiative Seeks to Close Local Digital Divide

Connecticut Public Libraries seek to address the growing digital divide between the state’s diverse communities through its CT Libraries & Partners for Digital Equity initiative, which participated in a series of Juneteenth events last month. 

The CT Libraries & Partners for Digital Equity Coalition oversees the new initiative that aims to provide computers, affordable high-speed broadband, and community digital navigators to local communities. Public Library staff and other community members formed the Coalition in January 2020 as a team dedicated to closing the drastic gap in digital access across Connecticut.  

“There are still families at home who don’t have internet access, who do not have a device, and who do not know how to use it,â€� said Dawn LaValle, Director of the Division of Library Development for the CT State Library. “So, the pandemic really shined a light on this problem and we’re just realizing the expanse of it.â€� 

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly amplified the lack of digital access among local BIPOC communities, specifically among Black and Latino households. LaValle explained that CT Public Libraries have been aware of a digital gap between CT’s diverse communities but most did not recognize the gap’s full extent until 2020. 

About 31 percent of Black residents don’t have computer access at home, while 34 percent of Black residents and 35 percent of Latinx residents lack wireline broadband at home, according to a 2020 Digital Divide in CT report. Data also showed that senior citizens, low-income households, and residents with disabilities are disproportionately affected by digital inequity. 

The Digital Equity Coalition saw Juneteeth as an opportunity to discuss the importance of digital equity among local Black communities. National reports have shown that a lack of internet access strongly correlates with COVID-19 death rates.   

“Over the last few years, researchers have started to see internet access, and in particular high-speed broadband, as a critical component of health — something vital for connecting people not only with health care, but also with food, housing, education, and income, all of which are considered social determinants of health,� according to Vox.

In 2020, state-wide efforts immediately focused on the digital needs of in-need youth to assist in providing the tools necessary for remote education. 

“Helping public libraries reach out to residents who have faced discrimination and need support to join the ranks of the digitally included is central to our mission,â€� LaValle said. 

Four CT Public Libraries are participating in the Digital Navigation Pilot Project, a program that trains members of the community to help residents set up affordable broadband internet, obtain electronic devices, and learn a variety of digital skills.

The East Hartford, Hamden, and Hartford locations, along with the Ferguson Library in Stanford have employed four navigators in each library.

“Basically, as digital navigators, we meet with clients and we work with them to achieve a goal,â€� said Aujahdai Ambrose, a digital navigator for the East Hartford Public Library. 

LaValle explained that navigators’ strong interpersonal skills have been crucial to the program’s success.

“It’s having someone with that empathy, that patience, but also the skills to be able to teach this…and make that connection with a person who’s never used a computer before,â€� LaValle said.  

Ambrose mentioned the value of having several bilingual navigators and libraries on staff. 

“We’re making a move so that we can be able to accommodate everybody,â€� Ambrose said. “We have a language line and we also have a Spanish speaker so that clients…can still get connected with our program…even if they don’t speak English.â€� 

Access to Broadband

Digital navigators have been most busy helping residents connect with the federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), Ambrose said. The ACP offers significant broadband discounts and one-time device discounts to eligible households, according to the Federal Communications Commission. 

Electronic Devices

Each library in the pilot program decided how much of their budget to allocate to devices; the East Hartford Library obtained roughly 100 devices—Chromebooks and Microsoft Surface Go Tablets—to give out to residents, according to Ambrose. 

Digital Skills 

Navigators have been trained to teach residents a wide variety of digital basics from learning to typing to navigating Microsoft software, but they aren’t the only ones picking up new skills. Ambrose has been learning to read Braille with a client who’s visually impaired so they can navigate their devices with more ease.  

“There’s one client…I’ve had them for a while because we’ve done so many things from filling out applications to learning zoom to organizing her email, we’ve done it [all],� Ambrose said. “So learning Braille is our last stretch.�

The Ferguson Library has already begun adjusting its upcoming budget to continue working with its navigators because of the pilot program’s early success, according to Ambrose.

“We want our community to know that there are resources, please come in and take advantage of it,â€� Ambrose said. “Our Black [communities] and [other] communities of color are the communities that are really being affected by digital inequity and that’s why we’re here to support them.â€�   

CT Libraries & Partners for Digital Equity meet on the fourth Tuesday of every month at 2 p.m., learn more at www.sites.google.com/view/ctlibrariespartnersdigequity/ 

Publisher’s Notes: CTLN is a proud partner of the Connecticut State Public Libraries.

It Takes A Village To Address The Youth Mental Health Crisis

Carolina Serna’s job as a care coordinator for the Clifford Beers, a behavioral health care provider based in New Haven, puts her in the middle of today’s mental health crisis for kids, teenagers, and their families. When Clifford Beers gets referrals for cases, Serna and other care coordinators become the face of the organization, helping children and families get the clinical care they need. But Serna and her colleagues do much more than that. In a sense, they’re the bridge between troubled families and the rest of society.

Take one of the many tough situations Serna handled during the COVID-19 crisis: A young Hispanic mother in New Haven had just lost her job. Her husband left. She was pregnant. Her son faced behavioral health and disability issues. And she was being evicted from her apartment. The first thing Serna did was get the mom a lawyer. Then she reached out to the school and social service agencies for help. “The mom didn’t know how to connect, so I connected the family to the help they needed,� says Serna, who is bilingual.

The story has a happy ending—at least so far. During the six months that Serna worked with the family, the eviction was stopped, the mom enrolled in a program for people reentering the workforce, and the son was placed in a school for kids with special needs and received the necessary counseling.

Across the nation, the number of adolescents reporting poor mental health is increasing. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2021 survey released in March showed that 37% of high school students experienced poor mental health during the pandemic and 44% said they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the previous year.

Separation from school and friends, the threat of becoming seriously ill, and family stresses—including lost jobs and income—sent kids to hospital emergency departments in record numbers. Other social stresses fuel crises, including domestic violence, gun violence and racism. The pain is most acute in disadvantaged communities.

The nation’s patchwork health care system isn’t built to handle this kind of crisis. There aren’t nearly enough behavior health caregivers and facilities to address demands for service, especially for poor people, says Dr. Andrew Ulrich, who is in charge of the EDs at Yale New Haven Health’s hospitals in New Haven. In addition, says Alice M. Forrester, CEO at Clifford Beers, Medicaid reimbursement levels don’t even cover the basic costs of the care organizations like hers provide, forcing them to depend on philanthropy to make ends meet.

The Connecticut General Assembly made a down payment on addressing some of these issues this session when it passed bills, which the governor signed into law recently, that expanded mobile crisis programs throughout the state and created grant programs to hire more school-based counselors.

Despite the depth of the crisis and dearth of funding, there is a glimmer of hope. In communities across the state, groups are collaborating and experimenting with innovative approaches to improving health and well-being. One example is how Serna of Clifford Beers helped the New Haven woman and her children. The idea is that when the social determinants of health are considered and community resources are coordinated, the well-being of individuals and entire communities can improve. The approach also involves families and neighborhood organizations in decisions affecting them.

Ultimately, these experiments could change how our society thinks about and delivers health care. Following this model, health care and social service organizations aren’t competing with one another or operating in isolation but are working together to achieve common aims. “We’re shifting from short-term self-interest to long-term shared interest,â€� says Rick Brush, the CEO of Wellville, a national nonprofit health advisory group that assists local collaboratives in five U.S. communities, including north Hartford neighborhoods.

The community-health-collaboration idea is taking hold in Connecticut. Just before the pandemic, Connecticut’s Office of Health Strategy (OHS) launched its Health Enhancement Community (HEC) initiative. So far, nine HECs have been established across the state. All are focused on community-led collaborations aimed at addressing social, economic, and physical conditions to improve general well-being. OHS is also encouraging the HECs to change the incentives in the health care system—from pay-for-service to paying for better health outcomes. “Our strategy is around driving community-directed and community-led initiatives to address specific needs in each community, reducing disparities and ensuring communities are engaged for the long game,â€� says Victoria Veltri, OHS executive director.

Rick Brush, the CEO of Wellville, supports the work being done in north Hartford neighborhoods to bring together residents and community organizations to improve their quality of life. Steve Hamm Photo.

In Hartford, for instance, a HEC was organized under the auspices of the North Hartford Triple Aim Collaborative, whose goal is to improve individual and community health while lowering health care costs. The group includes representatives from the city of Hartford, the United Way, Trinity Health, Connecticut Children’s, and Hartford Hospital, but it also invites community organizations and individuals to the table.

In addition, Connecticut Children’s has partnered with the City of Hartford, Hartford Public Schools, and other organizations to develop a signature new project, the North Hartford Ascend Pipeline. They landed a $30 million federal grant to be matched by local contributions that will fund an array of interlocking services to improve the well-being of young people from prenatal into young adulthood. “The key is getting to children and supporting families early,â€� says Dr. Paul H. Dworkin, director of Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health. “That way, we can achieve much better outcomes for these children as they grow to be adolescents and adults.â€�

Community health innovators in Connecticut aren’t shy about adopting and adapting approaches that have been piloted elsewhere. For instance, the community outreach program at Clifford Beers is based on the Wrap-Around Milwaukee model for coordinating social and health care services.

Clifford Beers plans to take its community engagement to another level with a resilience center it hopes to locate in New Haven’s Newhallville neighborhood, offering early childhood services, mental health programs, after-school programs, and community health and disease prevention activities.

Health experts say the closer these coordinated service programs get to neighborhoods and families—really listening to what people want rather than dictating to them—the more likely they will have positive effects.

When Cynthia Cruz, a bilingual coordinator serving the communities of northwest Connecticut for Wellmore Behavioral Health, gets assigned to a new youth behavioral health case, the first thing she does is visit the family in their home.

They discuss what’s going on and what they would like changed. Her program only lasts six months, so she also reaches out to others in the community to see if they can help on a longer-term basis, including pastors, sports coaches, and extended family members. Wellmore refers to these human networks as “natural resources.�

The North End of Hartford. Steve Hamm Photo.

Cruz recalls one situation involving a boy and his family in the far northwest corner of the state. Earlier in the COVID crisis, the boy had retreated to his room and spent much of his time playing video games. He withdrew from his family, barely talking to his mother. During sit-downs with the family, Cruz learned that the boy loved to watch football on TV, but he didn’t play the game. So, in addition to finding a counselor for him, she recruited his uncle to toss a football around with him once a week. That broke the ice. She got the family a membership at the local YMCA. The boy began socializing with other people. He and his mom reconciled. “You know what they say,� says Cruz. “It takes a village to raise a child.�

A program launched by a team at Yale’s Child Study Center, Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions (SPACE), puts parents at the center of their offspring’s care. Clinicians train parents to deal directly with children who have anxiety disorders, rather than depending on professional therapy sessions.

“There are young people who can’t or won’t engage with cognitive therapy, so we were driven to find another tool,â€� says Eli R. Lebowitz, an associate professor at the Child Study Center whose team developed the technique. Their approach has been adopted by therapists worldwide and really took off after Lebowitz published a best-selling book in 2021 about it, â€œBreaking Free of Child Anxiety and OCD.â€�

In one of Lebowitz’s cases, a 12-year-old Milford girl had developed such severe anxiety that she would not speak to anyone outside her home. Lebowitz helped the parents understand they were hampering her recovery by speaking for her in such situations. They changed their behavior, which gradually led to their daughter regaining confidence and speaking for herself once again.

COVID triggered the youth behavioral health crisis, but it has also encouraged innovative approaches that could help address the problems young people face going forward.

“It has been a deep, deep couple of years, and, for the clinic, it has been in some ways revolutionary,� says Forrester of Clifford Beers. “We have emphasized the outreach work in the communities. Now we’re seeing the aftereffects, and we know what needs to be done.�

To connect with the Anxiety and Mood Disorders Program at the Yale Child Study Center, where free care is available in certain circumstances, call (203) 737-4644.

Information on Wellmore is available here.

You can reach Clifford Beers, which is changing its name to Clifford Beers Community Care Center on July 1, here.

It Takes A Village To Address The Youth Mental Health Crisis was first published on Connecticut Health I-Team.

Publisher’s Note:  CTLN and c-hit.org collaborate to best serve the Connecticut Hispanic, Latino community.

Cover Photo: By Melanie Stengel


Meriden Students Protest Against Gun Violence and Discuss Its Impact on Latino Communities

Meriden students from Maloney and Platt High School organized separate student walkouts earlier this month to protest against gun violence and honor the victims of the Uvalde, Texas mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.

Several Maloney seniors organized a walkout on June 1 and three Platt students, including Junior Jocelynn López, hosted their walkout the following day. Students reflected on how the May 24 shooting has impacted Latino communities across the country.

“Being Latina myself, it was hard to hear that my community was hurt and is suffering during this difficult time,â€� López said. “Us Latinos stick together, and if one is hurt, then we all hurt and this felt like it hit so close to home.â€� 

López also pointed out that Platt has a diverse student body. About 60 percent of Platt students identify as Latino while Latinos make up around 90 percent of Robb Elementary School’s student population, according to Record-Journal.

“When Sandy Hook happened, we were in second grade, and I remembered my parents pulling me into their room to talk about it,� said Mikayla Bunnell, another organizer of the Platt walkout. “But this is different because we understood the gravity of the situation and now that we’re older we can be activists in our community.�

Publisher’s Notes: This story is an aggregate from the Latino Communities Reporting Lab.

CTLatinoNews partners with the Latino Communities Reporting Lab in best serving the Hispanic-Latino communities of Connecticut.

Cover Photo: By Daniel Corsetti

Vazquez Matos named Superintendent of Middletown School District

The Middleton Board of Education has unanimously approved, with a vote of 9 to 0, to name Dr. Alberto Vázquez Matos superintendent of schools.

Vázquez Matos is the first bilingual and biliterate Hispanic-Latino superintendent for the district. He had been acting superintendent since October, when Michael Conner took a leave of absence, and later resigned.

“In the nearly eight months that Dr. Vázquez Matos has been the Acting Superintendent, he has proven himself to be a leader that is able to bring about necessary organizational changes, all the while building relationships, restoring trust, and renewing the district’s commitment and focus on student learning, growth, and well-being,” a school district spokesperson told NBC Connecticut.

Hispanics-Latinos make up 17 percent of Connecticut’s population; 11 percent of them live in Middleton that has nearly 48,000 residents.

Vázquez Matos was born in the town of Naranjito, located in Puerto Rico’s interior. His mother relocated the family — he is one of four children — to the Bronx in New York City when he was young, and it was there that he grew up and began his career in education.

“Mom was a big influencer in our lives, in the sense of knowing that education was a way to break the cycle of poverty for us growing up,â€� he told the Daily Hampshire Gazette while schools receiver/superintendent of Holyoke Public Schools.

School officials said Vazquez Matos holds a doctorate of education degree and a doctorate of philosophy, along with having 25 years of teaching and 22 years of educational administrative experience.

Vazquez Matos started with the school district in July 2021 as the chief academic officer.

Cover Photo: Dr. Alberto Vázquez Matos, seen in his office, receiver/superintendent for Holyoke Public Schools. Daily Hampshire Gazette/Kevin Gutting.

CTLN Opinion+: Jose Lucas Pimentel

Welcome to another episode of Connecticut Latino News Opinion+, where we talk about major issues Latinx and underrepresented communities face.

This week we spoke with Lucas Pimentel, CEO of CT LEAD. 

Latinos for Educational Advocacy and Diversity (LEAD) officially began its operations on June 28, 2021, offering a variety of free services across the state since then. However, the idea was initially formed in 2019 by a group of CT Latino parents who sought to create more educational opportunities tailored to Latino and Hispanic students. The group’s four pillars include educational options, civic engagement, financial literacy, and Latino history and culture. 

“The Latino community usually has bigger challenges than traditional communities… and that only became worse during the pandemic when a lot of immigrant families had to try to navigate technology and faced so many other things that ended up making them fall [further] behind,â€� Pimentel explained. 

In Danbury, the headquarters of CT LEAD, about 50 percent of English Learner students have dropped out of school, according to Pimentel. The organization seeks effective educational opportunities for young Latinos across the state to create a future that is led and guided by Latinos. 

“We are losing many of our youth and many times their path ends up being low-income jobs or prison,â€� Pimentel said. “We really want to make sure that education becomes our number one pillar, so we can start finding solutions and we think the solution has to come from our own community.â€� 


Yoellie Iglesias: The Mother of All Mothers

“I really believe that for me to be able to keep Angel safe, the only way that I can do that is to build a stronger community,” Yoellie Iglesias, Executive Director, Madre Latina told the CT Mirror. “And every time that I help a family in anything that they need, I really believe that that family will also work to keep my child safe.” That inspired Iglesias to start Madre Latina, a non-profit organization created in 2011 to educate, connect and empower Hispanic women and mothers. 

Dubbed “The mother of all Mothers,� for assisting mothers like her in raising their children, Iglesias is known as the go-to person for help in the Waterbury community.

Yoellie with her son Angel, her inspiration for Madre Latina.

“Madre Latina is an organization that is committed to seeing young women realize their dreams,� William R. Rybczyk, President/CEO of New Opportunities, Inc., said. “Through the commitment and dedication of Yoellie Iglesias and her team, the organization has impacted countless lives in the Waterbury community. By empowering young women to reach their potential, they are committed to seeing the next generation of Latinas in the Waterbury area succeed and drive.�

Young Representative of Waterbury is one of those empowering programs. Alahannis Lopez-Zea, a sophomore at UConn, participated in the leadership and civic engagement skills curriculum as a high school student. “I apply all the skills and knowledge that I learned to my adult and college life,� Lopez-Zea said.

“I reached my dream because I had a community to support me,” said Iglesias. Originally from Puerto Rico, she believes Hispanic-Latino parents need support in educating their children, but they can’t just leave it up to the school system.

“You need to take responsibility and make sure that your child is successful. When I go to open house, I give them my card and I tell them, ‘I am going to be your best friend, but if Angel (her son) falls behind without me knowing, I am going to be your worst enemy. Because if Angel needs anything – anything – you need to call me and I will do whatever to make sure he gets the tutors.’

Iglesias is critical of an education system that is not reflective and inclusive of the community it serves. “You don’t see enough Latinos, you don’t see parent liaisons who speak your language. You don’t see teachers who can understand you or understand what is going on with you or your family. I know that they are trying to get more teachers who are bilingual. They are really trying.”

Struggling with the same staffing shortages faced by districts across the country, Hartford Public Schools (HPS) launched the Paso a Paso Puerto Rico Recruitment Program to fill teacher vacancies ahead of the 2022-2023 school year.

Suggestion: Hartford Public Schools Recruit Bilingual Teachers ’Paso A Paso’

Iglesias initially attended Naugatuck Valley College in Waterbury before enrolling at Springfield College. She went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in 1999 and a master’s degree in education in 2004.

When asked what advice she has for parents, Iglesias said, “To not forget that they are the first teacher of their children, and they need to remember that we are the first role model. By that, I mean that we, as parents, should always remember that our children are looking at us. I don’t want my son to imitate anyone else. I want him to say I want to be like Mommy.”

Cover Photo: Yoellie Iglesias at a Madre Latina event.

Publisher’s Note: This is story is in part, an aggregate from She helps Latina moms be more involved in their children’s education.

CTLN and CTMirror collaborate to best serve the Connecticut Hispanic, Latino community.

Providing a ladder to higher education in CT

Eastern Connecticut State University is partnering with the Hispanic Alliance of Southeastern Connecticut to offer scholarships to students from Hispanic-Latino backgrounds – students like David Galvez — who are in need of financial support. 

“It’s a blessing, because at this moment I definitely needed that amount so that I could keep going to school next year,� Galvez told CT Examiner. “It came to me at the right time.�

The alliance plans to offer scholarships of up to $2,500 each, which the university will match. University President Elsa Núñez said at a press conference on Monday that the $5,000 would cover tuition and fees. 

The alliance received a grant from the City of New London for $27,000 from the city’s coronavirus relief funds to go toward the scholarships. 

“Sometimes when new immigrant families and new Latina families arrive in the United States [and] they need to climb a ladder, there needs to be community providing that ladder,� Claudio Melendez-Cooper, executive director of the Hispanic Alliance, said.

David Galvez and Claudio Melendez-Cooper

Galvez says first-generation students like himself often don’t have someone to help them navigate the college application process. â€œI understand what it’s like to go through that. So the best I can do is help out those who I know what it’s like to be in their shoes,â€� he said about working with high school students.

Publisher’s Notes: This story is an aggregate from Hispanic Alliance Announces Scholarships, Partners with Eastern Connecticut State.

Cover Photo: MDS Architects

70-Hour Work Weeks, Sleeping In A Car: Personal Care Assistants Struggle To Care For Themselves

Dilliner Jordan works 62 hours a week taking care of two people who are too medically fragile to take care of themselves.

But she has no health insurance and often sleeps in her car because she can’t afford rent and a security deposit, even though she has been saving for months. She is fearful of staying at a shelter, which she believes will increase her chances of contracting COVID-19 for a second time.

“It does bother me,� the 63-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., native said. “It bothers me a lot. I don’t understand how I could work two jobs and still can’t afford an apartment. I either make too much money for help or not enough.�

At 61, Lucía Nunez, who also works as a personal care assistant, commonly known as a home care worker, is in the same position. Nunez, of East Hartford, works 70 hours a week, taking care of three individuals who need help with the daily activities of life, including bathing and meals. Still, she hasn’t had a mammogram in four years.

“I can’t remember the last time I went to the doctor for a regular visit,� said Nunez, who also has no health insurance.

Jordan and Nunez are part of a 10,000-member workforce taking care of 6,000 of the state’s most vulnerable residents in their homes, paid by the state Department of Social Services (DSS) and state Department of Developmental Services (DDS) through Medicaid funding.

They are mostly women—predominantly women of color—with no health care benefits, no paid time off, no paid sick days and no path to retirement even as the pandemic has worn on into a third year, said Diedre Murch, director of home care for the New England Heathcare Employees Union, SEIU District 1199.

Dilleener Jordan wipes Tracy Lamb’s face while caring for her in Lamb’s West Haven apartment, March 22, 2022. Jordan is a home health care worker who cares for Lamb four days a week. Photo by Cloe Poisson

“We are unearthing more and more stories like Dilliner’s and Lucía’s,� Murch said. “The pandemic was like pouring gasoline on the fire that was already burning.�

The workers can’t legally strike to get better pay and benefits because the state has no backup system to take care of their clients, Murch said. The union, DSS and DDS have been in talks for months, even as federal pandemic relief for community care was made available. After a meeting with Gov. Ned Lamont last week, the union is hopeful that a new contract is coming, Murch said, but an agreement has not been reached.

Nunez works Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 3 to 9 p.m. for two people and then every other weekend taking care of a third person. “I’m always working more than 70 hours a week, so I can survive, pay my bills and put food on the table,� she said.

She gets no benefits other than what she calls “holy day pay,� she said.

“If you work on the Fourth of July—that’s a holy day—you get paid time and a half. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid because we have no paid holidays unless we work.�

Lucia Nunez

She only took a few days off when one of her clients contracted COVID-19 because she couldn’t afford to stop working. Her boyfriend puts gas in her car so she can use that money for food, she said. “Everything is more expensive,� she said.

Jordan works Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. for Tracy Lamb, a 52-year-old West Haven resident with multiple sclerosis who is bedridden and needs help with bathing, dressing and chores around the house.

“She makes me happy every time,� Lamb said. “When she goes away, I’m miserable.

“We have a very good relationship. She bathes me, she leaves the room spotless, she cooks for me, she’ll clean up the house. She never stops. She’s like the Energizer battery.�

Sometimes the two watch television or movies together while Jordan folds the laundry. Lamb said Jordan will go to the store for her on her day off if she needs something. “She always goes above and beyond for me,� Lamb said.

Jordan also works 10 hours on Fridays and 12 hours on Saturdays taking care of a second client on oxygen.

Jordan will sometimes stay overnight at Lamb’s home if it’s cold out. On the other nights, she’ll sleep in her car, she said. She cooks for herself when she cooks for her clients, leaving foods that need to remain cold in their refrigerator.

“I never hide my situation from them,� Jordan said. “When I cook for them, I cook for myself.�


Jordan said she was raised by a mother who believed that people should help their older neighbors or people in need. “I think that’s why I went into this,� Jordan said.

“My mom would send us to go help people. Even though I work six days a week, I spend Sunday going to see a lady who has nobody. I talk to her. We were the help for the elderly when I was a kid.�

She worked for a nursing home in 1987 but found that the job didn’t provide enough time to take care of people the way she felt was necessary, she said. “You need to make sure they are clean. You want to make them happy,� Jordan said. “There were so many residents you couldn’t give them the attention they needed. When I’m doing private duty, I’m able to do that for every one of my clients.�

After working in home care for nearly 30 years, she had moved to South Carolina before the start of the pandemic to spend time with her son and his family, she said. She was able to work less because she lived with his family and was enjoying life, until tragedy struck.

Her son went to the store one day and never returned, she said. He had been shot and killed by the store manager who mistakenly believed he was trying to rob the place, she said. “It was a shock. He just never came back from the store,� Jordan said. “It was very traumatic. He left nine kids. You come to the point where you can’t feel. I was in trauma.�

She sought the help of a therapist through telehealth and then came back to Connecticut to escape the memories of their time together, she said. “I couldn’t stay. I kept seeing him everywhere,� she said.

Since then, she’s been working with Lamb and her other client while trying to avoid catching COVID-19 for a second time. Her first bout in November 2021 left her with lung problems and fatigue, she said. She lost two weeks’ pay while quarantining because, by that point, federal sick time pay for home care workers impacted by COVID-19 had ended.

Jordan said she makes it a point to tell her clients that they still make life worth living even if they are bedridden or have physical challenges. Some days she tries to motivate them even as she’s exhausted from the workload, she said.

“Everybody has a calling,� Jordan said. “It takes a special person to take tender loving care of people. I try to give them a better quality of life. Everyone should have a better quality of life.�

Jordan covers Lamb with a comforter after helping her get back into bed.

70-Hour Work Weeks, Sleeping In A Car: Personal Care Assistants Struggle To Care For Themselves was first published on Connecticut Health I-Team.

All photos by Cloe Poisson.

Publisher’s Note:  CTLN and c-hit.org collaborate to best serve the Connecticut Hispanic, Latino community.


CTLN Opinion+: Maritza Bond

This week, Connecticut Latino News Opinion+ had the opportunity to speak with Maritza Bond, the current Director of Health for the City of New Haven and Secretary of State Candidate of Connecticut. 

Bond became the first Latina health director for a major city in Connecticut in 2016. She says that “rompiendo barreras� and being a woman leader have been challenging, but that she’s happy to serve the community. She hopes to inspire other Latinas to pursue roles in which they aren’t currently represented as well.

“Listen, a woman like me has been able to be in the position that I am in now, and I want to be able to extend that further and be able to bring hope to others that are in a similar situation that I grew up in, to be inspired to be able to fulfill your passions. There are no barriers to stop you from achieving any goal. I’m so grateful to be in the primary and to be able to run for secretary of state. I’ve never dreamt that this could be possible for a Latina like me,� she said.

Encouraging voter turnout is important to Bond, who says that if she were elected, she would bring early voting to the state because she understands that issues like scheduling time in between work, long wait times at the polls, and transportation insecurity make it difficult for some communities to participate on Election Day.

Martiza says that equity is important to her and that she hopes to help minority-owned businesses by certifying them, maintaining records to make their businesses more visible to larger firms, and offering technical support to help owners with language or literacy barriers overcome those challenges and fully take advantage of the resources available to them.

She invites everyone to vote, stating, “The Secretary of State should have a diverse ticket. Latinos have not served in this constitutional office; we are well overdue. It is ‘el momento de nosotros’. So we have an opportunity to do this, but I cannot do this alone.â€�

Resources mentioned in this video:



Mortgage Relief Program for Connecticut Homeowners 

Governor Ned Lamont announced on Monday the launch of MyHomeCT – a new State of Connecticut program that is providing mortgage relief to homeowners who have experienced financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, many families have fallen behind on their regular housing payments, placing them at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure. According to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, more than one-third of Connecticut homeowners have lost employment income and more than one in nine have fallen behind on housing payments at some point during the pandemic.

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Connecticut has been awarded approximately $123 million to establish MyHomeCT, a program funded by the Homeowner Assistance Fund. The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) will be working in collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Housing to administer the program. 

“The public health crisis that we’ve experienced over the last two years has had a significant impact on the ability of many homeowners to pay for the costs of their housing, which is why we are dedicating this funding to provide much-needed support,� Governor Lamont said. “Thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act and the support of our Congressional delegation, MyHomeCT will ease some of the financial burden that homeowners have faced during this pandemic and will help ensure that their housing situation remains stable. I encourage any homeowner who has come across difficult times since the pandemic to learn more about the program and consider applying.�

50 percent of Hispanic-Latino homeowners lost income by the first quarter of 2021, the highest among any ethnic group. As a result, 16 percent of Hispanic-Latino homeowners were behind on their mortgage payments. That is more than twice the 7 percent share of white homeowners.

MyHomeCT Overview 

The program will be able to help eligible homeowners who have suffered financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic by offering reinstatement, up to 12 months of forward payments, or a combination of both. The assistance is meant to cure and/or prevent mortgage and housing-related delinquencies and foreclosure.

Eligibility requirements include:  

  • Applicants must live in the state of Connecticut and occupy the property as their primary residence.
  • Applicant/household member must have experienced a COVID-19-related financial hardship after January 21, 2020, or experienced a financial hardship before January 21, 2020, which was then exacerbated by the pandemic. Assistance for delinquency prior to January 21, 2020, is capped to three months.
  • Property must be an owner-occupied 1-to-4 unit house, condominium, townhouse, or manufactured home.
  • Homeowners applying for mortgage assistance must have a mortgage that had a principal balance at or below the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s conforming loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the time of origination.
  • Household income must be equal to or less than 150 percent area median income (AMI), adjusted for household size.

Kristin’s Story

Like so many others in Connecticut, Kristin’s family fell on hard times. With two young children at home and only one income, it was becoming difficult to keep up with housing expenses:

“…I got a call one day that saved everything. My mortgage servicer called to tell me about the MyHomeCT program and encouraged me to apply. The application process was easier than I expected, and the amazing relief the program provided was more than I could have ever hoped for. It gave my family a second chance, and we are beyond grateful. Thank you so much to CHFA for keeping my family in our home and our mortgage current!� 

“Due to many unforeseen circumstances, such as job losses or the need to care for loved ones, thousands of Connecticut homeowners are now in the situation where they need assistance or they will be in danger of losing their homes,� Seila Mosquera-Bruno, commissioner of the Department of Housing, said. “The MyHomeCT program will address a great need in our state by providing direct assistance to cure or prevent mortgage delinquencies and pay for other housing-related costs.�

How to Apply: If you are a Connecticut homeowner that has faced financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for the MyHomeCT program. Visit: www.chfa.org/MyHomeCT to learn more and to apply.

If you need help with your application, you may call 877-894-4111 (toll-free) or visit one of the MyHomeCT Resource Centers.

The list of resource centers can be found at www.chfa.org/MyHomeCT.

Publisher’s Notes: This article was written in part by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority.