Thanksgiving Survey

This year, Thanksgiving celebrations may look different than in the past. With the current Coronavirus situation, public health officials are encouraging caution. While this may be challenging, there are many things to be thankful for and many traditions will hopefully continue.

We have created a survey to learn how Thanksgivings in our community may be different this year.

Click HERE to see the results

 

If you haven’t responded yet, we still want to hear from you. Tell us about your thanksgiving experience:

Mold the Future for Stratford Education: Stratford Education Fund

by Tom Dillon

What skills will be required for Stratford’s students in the years to come?  What will make them successful in their careers?  What knowledge do they need to make the greatest impact on their lives and the lives of others? The answers to those questions are the focus of a community led initiative being implemented by The Stratford Education Fund.

Bob David, a community member and one of three facilitators for the Barr Foundation, is looking for community volunteers throughout our community to participate in a structured workshop for the next several months.  Three groups composed of educators, parents and local business people that will collaborate to create an outline for programs and priorities required for students to become successful in life and the workplace.

The Barr Foundation’s mission is to invest in human, natural, and creative potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts. Based in Boston, they are guided by core values defined by their founders. “These values are fundamental to who we are and what we believe constitutes effective philanthropy.”

Volunteers are needed to kick the program off starting in December and will be meeting through March. The groups will share ideas and develop specific programs that will be presented to the Barr Foundation and the Stratford Board of Education by the Summer of 2021.

A few dozen communities have been selected across New England.  The Barr Foundation is not only providing the funds to conduct the initial community collaboration, but a handful of communities will be awarded a grant each year for four years in a row to implement the programs that they created.

Diversity Matters

Over 50 languages are spoken in Stratford homes and our community is made up of an incredible diversity of people.   Bob is urging every Stratford resident with an interest in the success of our youth to consider getting involved with the project to ensure that it represents our community in the broadest possible sense.  Based on current conditions with the pandemic, meetings are currently expected to be virtual and will meet numerous times per month.  There is even a small stipend available for participants.

The Stratford Education Fund is an outgrowth of the Stratford Chamber of Commerce’s oldest running program the Business and Education Support Team (BEST).  The BEST program has run for more than 30 years as a public private partnership between Stratford’s business community and the public schools.  The BEST program continues to provide “mini-grants” between 50 and 500 dollars which are put directly into teachers’ hands for small programs that go straight to Stratford’s classrooms. Every year awards are presented to teachers and students for being the “BEST” of Stratford.

The Stratford Education Fund was created to create more opportunities by going through the full process of registering as a IRS recognized 501(c)3 charitable foundation.  That long process was completed with extensive support of many community businesses, including the Milford Bank.

This is your opportunity to get involved and share your experience and perspective on the future of our students and community!  Anyone interested should reach out to Bob David at bobbydavid999@gmail.com.

The Unique Nature of Stratford’s Suffrage History

by David Wright, Editor of The Cupheag Corner

As we enter a year of remembrance celebrating the passage of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920, a look at how women’s suffrage originated, and evolved, in Stratford seems most noteworthy. Secretary of State, Denise Merrill, has established a Connecticut Suffrage Centennial website which you may view at https://votesforwomenct.com/. Many towns are marking the centennial with special events and observances which are, or will be, posted to this website. In order to celebrate the centennial in Stratford, it’s important to recognize just how differently Stratford experienced the suffrage movement.

Unlike many other towns in the state and the nation, there is no sign of visible opposition to the suffrage movement in Stratford. There was no organized “anti” suffrage movement in town. The most prominent, powerful, politically connected, and wealthy women in Stratford all affiliated with the Stratford suffrage movement. It’s very possible, in the face of such powerful women suffrage supporters, that anti-suffrage women, if they existed, found it impossible to challenge the Stratford suffrage leaders.

Stratford’s suffrage movement also appears to have been supported by, or, at a minimum, not opposed by, the powerful men of the town. Businessmen, doctors, lawyers, political leaders, and land owners all had wives, sisters, and/or daughters active in Stratford’s suffrage movement.

Red Men’s Hall on Church Street was demolished in 1957 to make way for I-95.

Stratford’s first suffrage organizational meeting was held in Red Men’s Hall on October 16th, 1912. The Red Men’s Club (or tribe) was comprised of the most influential, powerful, and wealthy men in Stratford. The “Red Men’s” organization in America has a long history as a post-Revolutionary War successor to the original Sons of Liberty. Stratford’s Red Men’s club was founded in 1889. Red Men’s Hall was located on Church Street, behind the Congregational Church, and sat, basically, where I-95 crosses Church Street.

The first suffrage conference of Fairfield County was also held at Red Men’s Hall in June 1916. (Red Men’s Hall played a pivotal role in suffrage activities in Stratford. As a side note of interest, Red Men’s Hall became the Polka Dot Playhouse in 1954). Stratford suffrage leaders were well-known throughout the county, state, and nation which would have been one compelling reason for the Fairfield County suffrage association to conduct its first meeting in Stratford.

It seems ironic that the suffrage movement in Stratford would have been drawn to a meeting location so infused with “maleness” and, ordinarily, opposed to suffrage activities. In order for the suffragettes to feel comfortable at Red Men’s Hall, it would have required the tacit, if not implicit, support of the leading men of Stratford. The Stratford women frequently invited Stratford men to their monthly suffrage meetings as speakers and as participants.

Lastly, once women obtained the vote in 1920 in Stratford, they stood fairly united in voting to change Stratford’s form of government (in 1921) to a Manager-Council form. Without the support of the Stratford women, the vote to change government forms would have failed.

Stratford’s suffrage movement was indeed unique. Through the coming months, we’ll periodically revisit this topic by spotlighting Stratford suffrage leaders. In their stories resides the explanation as to why Stratford’s suffrage experience defied state and national trends. Once again, Stratford’s history proves to be a Connecticut standout.