By JEN CARDINES
Standing among officials and his family, Jack Denorfia grinned ear-to-ear as he grabbed the giant scissors and cut the ribbon in Bread for Life’s new kitchen. Right beside him, Jack’s grandfather—local builder Tony Denorfia—cheered along with a group of Bread for Life staff.
Southington Bread for Life celebrated their grand opening on Vermont Avenue with community events last week to champion all of the people and organizations that aided in the building project, including Denofia who donated his time and effort to the building project.
On Friday, BFL officials invited a room full of donors to join in the ribbon cutting and tour the new facility. It was the culmination of a full day of activities.
Representatives from the Board of Education and Town Council were in attendance, along with Superintendent Timothy Connellan, Town Manager Garry Brumback, YMCA staff, and Lions Club members. Early Childhood Collaborative of Southington director Joanne Kelleher, who recently assembled a case with books and toys for young BFL clients, was also there.
Due to Thursday’s inclement weather, the event for donors was held Friday evening, but didn’t stop the dining room from being filled. While few officials were unable to attend because of the date change, BFL was still bustling with people that evening.
Local businesses and donors were invited to the new facility for a dinner provided by Smokin’ with Chris and an official ribbon cutting to symbolize the opening of what officials call the best looking soup kitchen in America.
BFL board chair Mike Soltys told the crowd that the organization opened their new doors debt-free thanks to the generosity of the community.
One individual in particular literally got the building on the ground. Tony Denorfia and his son Andrew (Denorfia Builders) did all the work that comes with being a general contractor…for free. In addition, they encouraged many of the subcontractors to donate time and materials as well.
A full list of donors can be found at www.southing-tonobserver.com.
“I can’t say enough good things about Bread for Life’s guardian angel Tony Denorfia and the whole Denorfia family for their amazing generosity,” Soltys said.
As a gesture of gratitude, the BFL staff fired up their pizza oven and held a “Denorfia Night” recently where the entire family came and made a pizza dinner in the new kitchen.
While Denorfia did the contracting work pro-bono, constructing a 3,200 square foot building has its price.
“This building is not here tonight without the grant that we got from the State of Connecticut,” Soltys said. “On Saint Patrick’s Day 2015, we visited Hartford to receive our state grant…and ever since then, we have certainly had the luck of the Irish.”
In March 2015, legislator Joe Aresimowicz, along with former legislators Dave Zoni and the late Betty Boukus (Plainville), all worked to secure the state funding for BFL. The three were recognized for their efforts on Friday.
“What we have in Southington is very unique,” Zoni said after receiving a framed photograph of the building. “We have a level of volunteerism that is matchless, as far as I’m concerned, with other communities.”
BFL executive director Donna Ayer championed the project for its effect on the everyday BFL clients.
“It’s beautiful,, and it’s a perfect example of how design can lift people’s spirits,” she said. “Our clients come here, and you can visibly see them brighten when they come through the door. We treat everyone who comes here with dignity and now we have a facility that matches that.”
After 30 plus years of using paper products, BFL now serves all their meals on dishes donated by the Aqua Turf. They have a professional kitchen equipped with an industrial dishwasher, walk-in refrigeration, and basement storage for dry food products. The upstairs holds executive offices and a conference room for organizational use. Since 1984, BFL has used various spots around town for storage and food preparation, and now they have a place to call their own.
On Sunday, BFL opened its doors to the community in their final grand opening event. The general public was offered tours of the new facility.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.
For a list of donors, click here: Bread for Life donor list
Photos by JOHN GORALSKI