From the desk of Marilyn Rossetti,
Executive Director of The Open Hearth

What an experience the past 16 months have been for all us! As life is getting back to normal, I find myself able to take some time to reflect on what I’ve learned while leading The Open Hearth through these unprecedented times.

  • Generosity comes in many forms. From phone calls and emails of support to gifts of food, homemade masks, and cleaning materials when supplies were scarce, to the most generous donations, you, our loyal supporters of The Open Hearth, showed the depth of your caring for people in need.

Because of your generosity, The Open Hearth NEVER closed throughout the pandemic. We are currently housing over 100 men safely at our facility on Charter Oak Avenue in Hartford.  Men who were with us prior to the start of the pandemic were able to remain housed and men experiencing homelessness throughout the pandemic continued to find a safe home here at The Open Hearth.

  • Partners matter. The Open Hearth could not have successfully navigated the pandemic without the support of its many community partners.

A special thank you to Hartford HealthCare and Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.  These two partners played a significant role in our ability to keep the men of The Open Hearth safe, housed, and fed.

Working in partnership with Hartford HealthCare, The Open Hearth became the first mobile coronavirus testing site in Hartford in April of 2020. And then became the first mobile vaccination clinic in Hartford HealthCare’s pilot program vaccinating over 100 residents and staff in January 2021.  Access to testing and vaccinations was and continues to be key to keeping the men residing in our homeless shelter and residential programs safe.

Critical grant dollars for COVID relief played a vital role in The Open Hearth’s ability to continuously operate throughout the pandemic.  The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving granted more than $100,000 in COVID relief and reopening funding to cover ongoing costs increases for food, supplies, PPE, and staffing.

  • Community is the cornerstone of The Open Hearth’s success. We have always known that the community built within the walls of The Open Hearth is vital to the recovery process and future success of the men of The Open Hearth.  By remaining open and housing men experiencing homeless at our facilities, clients continued to live in and maintain a supportive community. The men continued to participate in daily chores such as cooking meals, cleaning the building, and doing laundry as well as many working as essential workers at area businesses.
  • Zoom is here to stay! We all learned new ways to stay connected and do our work. Virtual meetings became a regular part of my work day, a way to keep in touch with staff, funders, colleagues of other organizations, board members, volunteers, and donors.  On a personal level, I learned to embrace Zoom to stay connected with family and friends.  I also watch the clients of The Open Hearth do the same. The men learned new technology related skills to complete online job training courses and online certification tests.  They even learned to interview virtually for jobs.

I am amazed at how resilient we have all been.  And most of all, I continue to be grateful that The Open Hearth has so many caring friends like you who remain committed to giving men experiencing homelessness hope for a better future.

With deepest regards,


Marilyn E. Rossetti
Executive Director