On December 11, 2014, Community Solutions, Inc. celebrated the retirement of John Russell, the Manager of Food Services for the past twenty-four years.
At the time of his retirement, John was CSI's longest-tenured employee, beginning his career with the organization on September 24, 1990. During his time at CSI, John was instrumental in making Food Services an integral part of the agency. The department opened modestly, with staff cooking 153 meals a day in the kitchen of Watkinson House, a residential reentry program in Hartford. Over the years, it has grown into an entity that serves roughly 1,000 meals a day from a state-of-the-art kitchen in Bloomfield. Food Services has consistently achieved high scores in federal and state audits, with all staff certified as Qualified Food Operators and ServSafe Food Handlers.
In addition to growing his department, John took it upon himself to embody CSI's mission by creating a volunteer work program for clients. For over fifteen years, John selected clients to work alongside him, teaching them a variety of skills that prepared them for positions in the food service industry. As part of the program, John helped clients job search, providing them with letters of recommendation and valuable insight from his years of experience. Many of John's proteges have gone on to work in restaurants, diners and kitchens, helping them reenter their communities with crucial employment secured.