This is Us

Hartford HealthCare might be where we work, but when we asked you about where you find fun, relaxation or deeper meaning in your lives, we were astonished at the variety of hobbies and avocations you pursue in your spare time. Here are a few of those stories, and we’ll have more in upcoming issues of Moments. To share your hobby, email

Gary Havican


Photo by Rusty Kimball

MidState Medical Center and The Hospital of Central Connecticut New Britain and Southington campuses are buzzing with activity around the clock. So, there’s a bit of sweet symmetry in the fact that the region’s president enjoys beekeeping in his spare time.

Gary Havican and his wife, Meghan, are proud stewards to more than 20,000 bees at their home.

Moments paid a visit to the apiary, where Gary suited up, gave us a look inside the hive and answered a few questions.

How did you get started?
We were inspired by a beekeeping friend, and decided to give it a try. We loaded up the car with 20,000 bees, along with all the necessary supplies, and made a spot in the backyard.

Is beekeeping a difficult or time-intensive hobby?
Beekeeping doesn’t require a lot of time or effort — the bees do the work! We will be harvesting twice this year — once in July and again in October. We do a well-check on them every couple of weeks year-round.

Do you feed the bees?
In the winter, bees remain huddled in the hive until temperatures climb to the 50s. During that time, we provide them with a brick of fondant containing lemongrass essential oils, which supplies an ample source of sugar for the bees. We supplement that with a sugar water and minerals mixture in a feeder in the late fall and early spring.

Did you alter or plant your garden to accommodate pollination?
Not really. Did you know that bees can travel up to two miles? Everything they need is within that radius.

Are there any unexpected benefits of beekeeping?
For Meghan and me, this has been a collaborative effort, and we’ve enjoyed beekeeping as a team. We’ve learned a lot about the health benefits of local honey — nothing is more local than our backyard! I have annoying seasonal and environmental allergies, so I look forward to finding out if honey may improve the symptoms.

How much honey do you expect to harvest this year?
Since this is our first year, we’ll be happy with more than a gallon.

The latest buzz: Gary and Meghan extracted the first batch of honey in July and the yield surpassed their wildest dreams. Their busy bees provided nearly five gallons of honey, which translated into four dozen jars and three candles!

—Brenda Kestenbaum

Dawn McKnerney

Yoga teacher

Photo by Rusty Kimball

As the director of the HHC Finance Department Content Management Group, Dawn McKnerney spends her days integrating new business partners onto the PeopleSoft Financial system and ensuring the application is balanced and effectively working for users.

In the evenings, the Southington resident and mother of two teenage sons helps her yoga students find balance in the mind-body connection of poses and breath that combine to help practitioners achieve serenity, and ultimately inner and physical strength.

How did you start practicing yoga?
I discovered the benefits of yoga about 10 years ago, while recovering from a skiing injury. It healed my body and my mind, and taught me to meditate, slow down and get things in balance.

Now you teach?
I went on to earn certifications as a yoga instructor and now teach at least two classes a week.

What are your classes like?
I gear my classes to people like me, who spend too much time sitting at a desk and wind up with tight necks, hips, shoulders and hamstrings that can lead to aches, pains and even injuries. I try to promote a sense of peace and calm in the class, put the body and the mind at ease so they’re ready to go back into the world with a sense of calm in their hearts.

—Hilary Waldman

Sherri Vogt


Photo by Chris Rakoczy

Sherri Vogt, the veterans’ liaison with Hartford HealthCare At Home (HHCAH), spends her days helping patients who are military veterans access the care and social services they need.

In her spare time, she’s been able to share a love for parachuting from planes with Vietnam veterans who have listed skydiving on their “bucket list.”

She organizes tandem jumps for small groups of veterans in eastern Connecticut and enjoys the smiles on their faces when they have landed safely.

When did you start jumping?
How many jumps have you done?
I started in 2017. This year was our third jump.

What’s it like?
The first jump, I screamed the entire way down. It was an adrenalin rush! The second one was very peaceful, and by this year, I was so relaxed, he let me pull the chute cord!

How did you start jumping with Vietnam vets?
One of my favorite Vietnam vets said it was on his bucket list, as he was a grunt in Vietnam, not a paratrooper. I asked him if he and his friends in Waterbury at the VFW would jump in Danielson and I would join him. Then others joined us and we had three planes full!

What motivates you?
The bond veterans share is deeper than family, spouses, with our children. This jump demonstrates that we can and will do whatever it takes for a fellow veteran here or on the battlefield. After a few months at HHCAH, I totally live life like I am dying because we all are.

—Susan McDonald