In addition to working, raising families and enjoying hobbies, many Hartford HealthCare colleagues give of their time and talents in a variety of ways. From coaching youth sports to holding elected office to tackling projects that enhance our world, you’re out there at night and on weekends giving of yourself. This new feature in Moments will highlight those efforts. If you want to let us know about the work you or a colleague is doing, please email Susan McDonald at

Need is Everywhere, so is Service

By William M. Jennings
President, Fairfield Region, Hartford HealthCare

Unless you have spent time in West Virginia, you likely are not familiar with Logan County. But if the Hatfield-McCoy feud or Buffalo Creek Flood of 1972 ring a bell, then you have heard of this area in the heart of Central Appalachia. It’s coal country where many residents live below the poverty line.

While I’ve been a New Englander much of my adult life, I was born and raised in Huntington, WV, about 45 miles north of Logan. For nine summers, I’ve had the privilege of returning home as part of the Appalachia Service Project (ASP) with 200 teens and 90 adults from Greenfield Hill Congregational Church in Fairfield. The ASP tagline is “Warmer. Safer. Drier.” Projects can range from fixing a leaky roof to building stairs — anything to make homes more habitable.

This summer, my crew was tasked with building a 30-foot wheelchair ramp for a middle-aged man named Bobby. Bobby lives in the colorfully named town of Man on Buffalo Creek and spent his whole life working in the coal mines, either as a laborer or at a desk job. Sadly, Bobby was permanently disabled when a mine collapsed, burying him alive.

Bill Jennings and some helpers work on a restoration project in Appalachia.

His house was not equipped with an egress that he could safely use — so our team got to work.

Even though I never called Logan County home, its residents were once my neighbors and, for me, ASP is about helping my community. Mission work has been a large part of my personal life but I am also fortunate that it has added a meaningful dimension to my professional life as well. Every November, St. Vincent’s Medical Center hosts a one-day Medical Mission event where hundreds of individuals from the Bridgeport area receive free medical care and other services such as haircuts and foot washings. Neighbors helping neighbors. You don’t need to travel far to find people in need; they are often in your backyard.

This year’s Medical Mission has expanded to serve our neighbors in every region. Every day, HHC colleagues see the great need of the people in the communities where they work and live. Every day, they serve from the heart and this is another opportunity to provide access to healthcare to those who need it most in the places they call home.

From rural Appalachia to our state’s own urban centers, the need is great. Thankfully, so is the drive to serve. I am incredibly grateful to share my profession — my calling — with so many selfless and caring people.