Acquired by HRA, Bristol agency wraps up

CAFCA | January 18, 2017 |

 

Yellowed files, stationery with letterhead, holiday decorations and pamphlets, were tossed into large gray garbage barrels Friday, on the last day of operations for the Bristol Community Organization.

The agency’s acquisition by the Human Resources Agency of New Britain is official on Tuesday.

BCO Executive Director Tom Morrow’s official last day was also Friday, although he said he’ll be in sometime during the next week to aid with the transition and clean out the cluttered office he has occupied since 2004.

“It’s the last day of the BCO as the BCO,” Morrow said, looking around at the mostly empty cubicles in the office area. “We’ve given HRA the codes to access the buildings and hopefully, the majority of the programs we’ve offered here will continue.”

While all administrative functions will be handled in New Britain, the two programs that will definitely continue in Bristol are the energy assistance program, and Dial-A-Ride for Bristol and Plainville, Morrow said.

The BCO employs about 50 staff members, a half dozen or so full time. Most of them will be moving under the HRA umbrella, he added.

“It’s kind of sad,” said Diana Vega, as she cleared out dust-laden file cabinets.

Vega will be staying on with HRA as the front desk receptionist in Bristol.

“Someone just asked me on Tuesday if things are going to change,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll have the same services, and have it just be a name change.”

Two of the programs not being picked up under the acquisition of the agency are the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the Homemakers Program, Morrow said.

RSVP supplied about 200 volunteers 55 and older to local nonprofits and schools and to Bristol Hospital.

“All coordination will be gone January 1. We’re hopeful the volunteers will stay on at the places they’re stationed,” Morrow said. “And, hopefully, it will only be a six-month hiatus, if they go for the funding.”

The Homemakers Program provided people to the elderly to aid with occasional light housekeeping, meals and other services, Morrow said.

The program, too, will have to re-establish funding, and get security clearances for the workers in order to get up and running again.

In March, the two agencies initially planned for a merger, when state social service funds were slashed due to the state budget deficit, which now looms at $1.3 billion.

Because of federal and state regulations, they had to change that to an assets transfer, a sales agreement whereby the New Britain agency will take on all of BCO’s assets and debts, including the $1 million mortgage on the BCO building.

The BCO started out 51 years ago as the Economic Opportunities Commission, as an arm of the city of Bristol. In 1971, the agency officially became the BCO, a nonprofit agency devoted to providing services, opportunities and assistance to the needy in five towns, Bristol, Burlington, Plainville, Farmington and Plymouth. It operates with an annual budget of $3.5 million.

The HRA of New Britain was founded in 1964. It has a budget of $18 million. Like the BCO, its goal is to help impoverished individuals and families through its programs.

Both agencies offer children’s services, emergency assistance, employment and training, health and wellness and financial consultations and connections.

“We’ve had a relationship with them for a couple of years now,” Morrow said.

“People shouldn’t see significant difference. There will be a different name on the door, maybe the phones will be answered a little differently. Hopefully, not much else.”

Eve Britton can be reached at ebritton@bristolpress.com or 860-973-1801.