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Reforming the 'Hooker'
an article by Taryn Porzio

The Hooker Hotel, named after General Hooker, has been taken over by Common Ground in Willimantic CT. The hotel commonly referred to by the locals as the “Hooker” Hotel is now the safe haven for the recovering drug addicts and reforming homeless. The hotel has received a face lift from its once dilapidated walls and needle infested ceilings, to hallways with newly painted walls and security cameras.

Common ground, a successful pilot project originating in New York, has joined force with the local soup kitchen and Connecticut Works to revitalize Willimantic, CT. Willimantic in the past has had a large problem with their town population abusing drugs. The town’s addiction started after the main factory in the town closed and many found themselves without jobs. After the job loss Willimantic saw a down spiral of their economy and a population with costly drug addictions and no way to support them. The locals turned to lives of drug addiction and crime, which was often, was run out of the hotel conveniently named the Hooker hotel.

There were several occasions where overdose and gun shot cause death of the tenants. The town tried several different avenues to solving the problem of the traffic of prostitution and drugs that happened in the hotel. After no such luck Common Ground was contracted to some to the rescue. Common Ground began an aggressive and active route into rounding up applicants for housing. Once the tenants are in they receive assistance in finding and maintain jobs.

Common Ground along with several service groups (Strive, UNESCO, CT Works) in the area have started build a bond of trust between the local applicants. There have been several events where the coordinators from common ground and students from UNESCO’s student ambassador program at university of Connecticut have gone to the soup kitchen and open lines of communications with the homeless population. Julie Friedlander, a student ambassador, felt that “The meeting which took place at the Covenant soup kitchen enables representatives of various groups interested in offering their services to collaborate in order to provide bare necessities for those who need it most. It was a very meaningful experience that provided to be a successful beginning step of brainstorming.”

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Question(s) related to this article:

How important is community development for a culture of peace?,

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Latest reader comment:

Community plays a important role in developing culture peace. We should promote our cultural values by interacting with each other and making these values part of our daily lives. A good example of this would be raising our children according to beliefs and values which are important for us and our cultural peace. We can also promote cultural peace by making small commuinties within big community and share different ideas and bring new ones in.

This report was posted on December 4,2004.