Chamber's Leadership Class Renovates Madonna Place Spaces

Participants to hold June 14, 2017 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Eastern CT – Participants in the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT’s Leadership Class of 2018 announced that they have completed renovations of the shared family spaces for Madonna Place in Norwich as part of their class project. The renovations took place in May 2017. An official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to celebrate the closure of the project will be held June 14, 2017, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at Madonna Place’s 240 Main Street Norwich facility in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT. Admission will be free and open to the public.
Established in 1987 to expose promising up-and-coming leaders to a wide variety of issues that affect eastern CT communities, businesses, and the public, the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT’s Leadership Program helps participants understand the needs and concerns of non-profit organizations, educational institutions, the criminal justice system, military, and many other industries and organizations. The program spans a two-year track in which participants learn about issues and work on a project in their first year, and then in their second year plan sessions for the following year’s class.
Participants in every Leadership Program class choose a class project to undertake which will benefit a local non-profit organization and make best use of the talents of Leadership participants.
The Leadership Program’s Class of 2018 chose to work with Madonna Place in Norwich as their class project. Madonna Place is a non-profit agency dedicated to providing services that strengthen families, promote health, and prevent child abuse and neglect. The class project consisted of renovating the family kitchen area in Madonna Place’s Norwich facility, as well as improving restroom facilities for Madonna Place’s clients and staff.
With these enhanced facilities, clients will have a more conducive environment in which to strengthen their family skills and encourage good eating habits, as well as bolster their morale and dignity.
Leadership Class of 2018 participants used their accumulated skills to perform their project. Its 32 future leaders represent a spectrum of industries across eastern CT, coming from the banking/finance sector, higher education, culture and creative fields, social services, and various business organizations. Three members are employees at General Dynamics Electric Boat.
Participants split into sub-committees to perform the work necessary to design the improvements to Madonna Place, secure funding, procure materials, and publicize/secure long-term sustainability for the project upon completion. Participants volunteered for their committees based on interest and ability to positively contribute their resources. Members of the class performed the physical renovation work and installed new furniture and appliances during the weeks of May 15 and May 22, 2017.
“Undertaking this renovation project has been very rewarding,” said Daniel Brandl, Co-President of the Leadership Program Class of 2018. “Our class was excited by the opportunity to help Madonna Place and their clients any way we could. By devising a refresh of Madonna Place’s shared facilities, we hope to give their clients the dignified spaces they need to connect with each other as families as well as promote good health. We look forward to the positive impact our work will make in the Norwich community and beyond.”
“It's been our pleasure to work with Madonna Place to complete this project that impacts the well-being of their clients,” said Kayla Hedman, Co-President of the Leadership Program Class of 2018. “Fundraising; constructing new shelving, countertops, floors, and light fixtures; painting; installing new appliances; and much more will go a long way towards Madonna Place’s work of establishing a safe and comfortable space for families and children in need. Undertaking this project is one way we are able to apply what we’ve learned in our class sessions to benefit the wider community.”
“The kitchen remodel at Madonna Place has done amazing things for the agency,” said Nancy Gentes, Executive Director of Madonna Place. “The kitchen is a place where our families come together to share a meal, make connections, discover community resources and receive informal counseling. It is the nucleus of our agency. Ninety-nine percent of our families fall well below the poverty line and have not shared a meal with their children in a beautiful, comfortable space. Now, when our families walk in they have big smiles. It is humbling to see.”
“The work performed by the participants in the Leadership Program is essential to the Chamber’s mission of securing and enhancing the economic vitality of eastern CT,” said Tony Sheridan, President & CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT. “By pooling their talents and coming together across many industries, these promising leaders form a model of what happens when we all work together to accomplish a common, positive goal. The Chamber is very proud to support them.” 
Funding for the Class of 2018’s renovations came from individual donors and businesses. Business contributors include the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative (CMEEC), Chelsea Groton Bank, General Dynamics Electric Boat, Ocean Blue Catering, Charter Oak Federal Credit Union, the Coastal Gourmet Group, Digital Insurance, Dime Bank, Arborio Corporation, CorePlus Credit Union, Tucker Mechanical, Savings Institute Financial Advisors, and Total Impressions.
Total funds raised were $8,590, as of press.
A formal Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the completed project will be held on June 14, 2017, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Madonna Place. Leadership participants, staff from Madonna Place, and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT will join to recognize the Leadership class’ work and celebrate the refreshed spaces for Madonna Place’s clients. There will be no charge to attend and no need to RSVP.
For additional information about the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT’s Leadership Program and for application information to be part of the Class of 2019, visit or call (860) 701-9113. 
The Leadership Program is made possible through the generous support of Eastern CT State University and Connecticut College.
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About the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut:
The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut is a collaborative of business and community leaders dedicated to securing and enhancing the economic vitality of eastern Connecticut. The Chamber works to create value for its members and the region by providing forums for business networking, leadership and discussions of issues that affect the region; providing opportunities for members to showcase their products, services and accomplishments; helping small businesses succeed through educational programs; and working to reduce the costs of doing business in Connecticut.  For more information, visit