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Thrift Shop in Winsted Gives $3,000 to Norfolk Ambulance

Director asks for donations of clothing and household items


By Wiley Wood

The thrift store is behind a modest shop front on a side street in Winsted. The contents are the familiar assortment of men’s and women’s clothing on racks, children’s toys, hardback books, slightly battered sports equipment and delicate knickknacks. On a weekday morning, a number of shoppers are already prowling the aisles, and several staff members are walking to and from the sorting tables in the back.

This is the public face of the Auxiliary for Community Health, a Winsted nonprofit that donates funds to local hospitals, police forces and emergency services to buy health and safety equipment.

In January, the organization awarded the Norfolk Lions Club Ambulance (NLCA) a $3,000 grant to upgrade its defibrillator.

The new model has the feature of providing feedback as a person gives cardiopulmonary resuscitation. “Good compressions are the most important thing you can do for a patient in cardiac arrest,” says Christopher Little, the NLCA’s chief of service. “This defibrillator has an audible metronome, and it gives feedback on the depth of your compressions. A voice will say ‘good compressions’ if you’re doing it right or ‘push harder’ if you need to go deeper.”

The newly acquired defibrillator, often called an AED (automatic external defibrillator), also meshes with the system used by local paramedics. This simplifies the transition from the Norfolk ambulance crew, who usually arrive at the scene first, to the paramedic who eventually takes over such cases.

Last year, the Auxiliary for Community Health gave $12,000 to the NLCA to set up an exercise room in the ambulance building. Little explains that the room is for joint use by the fire and ambulance services. “It’s meant to encourage on-duty personnel who might live farther away to hang out in town,” says Little, who also hopes it will act as a recruitment and retention tool.

And in 2014, the same organization gave Norfolk Ambulance $21,000 to buy a power-lift stretcher. “It’s been fabulous,” says Little. “It’s a terrific system that’s saved the aging backs of our corps members from injury.”

Milly Hudak, president of the board of directors of the Auxiliary for Community Health, tells the following story: “I read about it in the paper, how in Norfolk they were fundraising to buy a stretcher to save their ambulance volunteers’ backs, and I thought, I’m going to call someone up there to tell them to put in a request, because they’re part of our community.”

Little confirms that a call from Hudak led to the grant application that secured a $22,000 Stryker power-lift stretcher for Norfolk.

This year, the Auxiliary for Community Health also gave the Winsted police department $12,000 for four speed-radar signs to slow traffic through the downtown area; $3,500 to keep the anti-drug-abuse program D.A.R.E. in regional schools; and $6,000 to the fire department in Winsted for a new thermal-imaging camera.

The organization has three sources of income, according to Hudak. It conducts an annual membership drive, at $10 per year, and counts about 60 members. It has the sales from the thrift shop. “Every penny we take in goes back out to the community,” says Hudak. “We’re 100 percent volunteer.” And it has made what Hudak calls wise investments “with money left to us when the hospital went bankrupt.”

The website NonProfitFacts.com puts the organization’s assets at close to $1.5 million.

But Hudak says most of the money donated by the Auxiliary for Community Health comes from the thrift shop. She urges everyone in the local area to make donations of clothing and small household items. “If we can’t fill our shelves, we can’t get the money to give back to our communities,” says Hudak.

The Auxiliary for Community Health Thrift Shop is at 120 Willow Street in Winsted, near the intersection with Case Avenue. It is open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to noon. The telephone number is 860-379-1997.

Photo by Gerry Brodnitzki: The president of the board of the Auxiliary for Community Health,, Milly Hudak, center, behind the counter of the Winsted thrift shop, flanked by two board members.

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