Lozada Park in Hartford's north end received a major facelift recently, thanks to a $5,000 grant and volunteer manpower - both provided by Pratt & Whitney. KNOX Parks Foundation, a Hartford-based environmental, non-profit organization, received the Green Power Grant and used the funds to purchase a number of mums, 19 trees plus mulch for the 2.8-acre park.
Lozada Park, located at the corner of Seyms and East streets in the Clay Hill neighborhood, was named after Julio Cesar Lozada, a then 12-year-old boy who lost his life on May 16, 1979 while playing with three friends in an abandoned 10-car garage that collapsed. Three boys escaped, but Lozada was trapped and died under the rubble. Language barrier was cited as a contributing factor to Lozada's death since none of the firefighters at the scene spoke Spanish, as neighbors tried to tell them of Lozada's presence under the collapse. His tragic death transformed public safety in the city of Hartford. Hartford's current fire chief, Edward Casares, Jr., was one of the first Latino firefighters hired as a result of the city's efforts to address the concerns raised following Lozada's death.
Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra and members of the Common Council Court not only proclaimed June 1, 2013 as "Fire Chief Edward Casares, Jr. and Julio Cesar Lozada Day," but they also attended the Oct. 18, 2013 revitalization event at the park. The event, which included volunteer manpower efforts from KNOX and the Pratt & Whitney Group Quality and EH&S organizations, was also attended by Pratt & Whitney's Operations Leadership Program (OLP) lead Nicole LaPointe; Mary Anne Cannon, vice president of Quality & Environment, Health and Safety; Graham Morast, director of Quality; Dave Smith, director of Global EH&S, and several employee volunteers from Group Quality and EH&S. Several members of the OLP team were also on hand, as well as KNOX Community Outreach Director Charmaine Craig.
"We are so excited to see Pratt & Whitney give back to the city of Hartford where their employees live and work," said KNOX Executive Director Ron Pitz prior to the event. "One of KNOX's main goals is to empower people to give back, and we do that through regular volunteer events with local corporations."
"I want to thank all the volunteers. What you've done today is to do something that shows that you care; that you care about Hartford, that you care about our community," Mayor Segarra said. "I think that's what this park represents. It's about caring ... what you've done here is invaluable."
In a playful speech that concluded the day's event, Charmaine Craig added, "Many, many thanks. This Green Power Grant has started a new tradition, and my fantasy is that Pratt & Whitney will adopt this park. Word!" Following a round of laughter and applause, the guests, which included Lozada family members, mingled, posed for photos and thanked the volunteers for their hard work.
Launched in 2008, Pratt & Whitney's Green Power Grant Program provides grant money to U.S. employee volunteers for clean-up, habitat restoration and environmental education programs. For more information about Lozada Park, visit www.juliolozada.com. For information about the KNOX Parks Foundation and their programs, visit www.knoxparks.org.
"Pratt & Whitney's Green Power Grant program was the tool that helped our UTC Operations Leadership Program (OLP) team create a sustainability project that will beautify the environment in Hartford for years to come. As OLP members, we are always looking for ways to give back to the communities in which we work and live," said Nicole LaPointe, UTC OLP associate and P&W Green Power Grant recipient.