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Chamber “mixer” held to boost coordination of town, nonprofits


KENT—The Chamber of Commerce, with co-sponsors Kent Memorial Library and Kent Affordable Housing, held an inaugural “mixer” with the town’s 38 not-for-profit organizations April 2 at the library.

Barbara Marcone of the Kent Quilters speaks Tuesday during a meeting of Kent’s non-profit organizations at the Kent Memorial Library. The Chamber of Commerce announced there are now 38 members of the chamber that are non-profits. Photo by Lynn Mellis Worthington

Charles Goldberg of Kent Affordable Housing greeted the attendees, saying that he hoped it would be the start of conversations among all the nonprofits about ways to increase coordination and cooperation. He noted that the organizations’ missions often overlap.

“Kent wouldn’t work without our nonprofits,” he said. “Imagine what would happen if we all went away.”

Chamber members have long contemplated a quarterly gathering of the leadership of the not-for-profits, as well as the selectmen and town clerk to share their missions, activities and calendars in hopes of boosting mutual support, coordination of events and collaboration. “We don’t want to meet every week, but you should continue the conversation outside the meetings,” Goldberg said.

He asked those present to identify themselves and to describe a little of their roles in Kent. The not-for-profits were concerned with just about every aspect of Kent life from arts and entertainment to land preservation, from boosting the role of tradespeople to preserving local history, and from religion to providing emergency funds to residents with unexpected needs. 

The Chamber itself is one of the not-for-profits, serving the business community, services industry and non-profits. 

Justin Potter, president of Kent Affordable Housing, spoke of the need for more housing for specific demographic groups, such as young families, local workers and seniors seeking to downsize, while Elise Cieplik, a member of the Kent Village Housing for the Elderly Board of Directors, said that its development, Templeton Farms, supplies affordable housing for seniors. She said KVHE just completed upgrades of all the kitchens in the complex. “It’s their home and they are very comfortable there,” she concluded.

Glenn Sanchez, who is both a Selectman and president of the Lions Club, noted that that group promotes health and well-being, especially in the area of vision.

New to the local nonprofits is the Kent Good Times Dispatch, which operates under the auspices of Kent News, Inc. President Karen Chase gave an update of the rapid growth of the newspaper, which is both non-partisan and nonprofit.

Kent Memorial Library Director Sarah Marshall termed that community hub as a “special kind of library built by bake sales and the people who love it … a fully functioning, tiny little nonprofit that gets a grant from the town but is supported by fundraising.” 

Speaking of fundraising, Barbara Marcone of Kent Quilters said her group is planning a Quilt Sale Trail, which will benefit the Kent Volunteer Fire Department this year. 

When the introductions were done, talk turned to synchronization of the different community calendars. The Chamber of Commerce has a comprehensive website and a demonstration was given of how each agency could list events there.

Town Clerk Darlene Brady said she hoped that the meeting would help to coordinate the different calendars “so we can nail it down and get the information out there.” In a phone interview following the meeting, First Selectman Marty Lindenmayer said he did not believe the town website should include community activities because the town government should not pick and choose which items to list. Instead, the town is seeking ways to link to the other sites so the information is easily accessible.

During the meeting, Lindenmayer said town government’s job is to work with the nonprofit agencies to encourage the growth of the town. “People who come to this town don’t expect it to be like where they came from,” he said. “They want to become part of this town and we have to look at what can do to bring in people. I want to continue to work with the different organizations to do that.”

Kathryn Boughton
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1 Comment

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    Charles Goldberg

    April 6, 2024 at 8:18 am

    Thank you, Kathryn, for the coverage!

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