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Christian council honored for its work


Chronicle Staff Writer

WILLIMANTIC — A Willimantic-based Christian para-ministry was recently recognized for its efforts to help the community at large.

It was honored for doing everything from food pantries to concerts and radio talk shows.

Willimantic’s Council for Christian Arts won a 2019 Northeast Marketplace Ministry Award in the Most Helpful Para-Church Ministry category through Northeast Christians at Work.

The council started in 2001 with just a few concerts a year, and grew over the last 19 years to multiple events a year, support groups, community services like thrift shops and food pantries and a radio talk show.

“The history of Willimantic has been very downtrodden,” co-chairman and co-founder Roger Bolduk said. “We wanted to change the face of Willimantic.”

Current board members and coordinators said no one had any idea at the beginning that the organization would grow as it has.

“We’re taking the faith of Jesus to the streets and introducing people to the Lord,” co-chairperson and co-founder Sara Sabo said. “We want to be out there not just once in a while, we need faces, hands and feet to show people we really care.”

Members from all parishes are welcome to attend and use the council’s events and services.

In fact, the board members alone come from over five different parishes.

However, many of the events are secular, like a “Recovering Hope” program for recovering drug users held every year at Memorial Park.

The organization is funded mainly by private individuals and business donations.

The council is also looking to increase funding through a thrift shop opening at its new headquarters at 120 Union St.

The thrift shop could fill a severe need for second-hand items following a vacancy left after the Salvation Army Family Store closed in 2018.

Board member and food pantry coordinator Paul Lanier said the organization’s food pantry helps about 70 people per year and is open Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.

The council is currently celebrating winning a regional award through the Northeast Christians at Work, an all-volunteer organization that connects Christianity through employers and employees across New England.

The organization is centered in headquartered in Vernon.

“CCA is a vibrant nonprofit Christian ministry that mobilizes local businesses, working Christians and others, to be a blessing to Willimantic and surrounding towns through a diverse mix of ministries and partnerships with local churches,” Northeast Christians at Work founder and President Drew Crandall wrote in an email.

“Their footprint includes a food pantry; thrift shop; automotive repairs; local Gospel programs on WILI 1400 AM radio; recovery ministries; an annual Praise Fest; finance and parenting classes; and inspirational trips to Sight & Sound in Pennsylvania,” Crandall continued.

Crandall said, since its foundation in 2000, the organization has distributed awards to 225 individuals and businesses from Pennsylvania and New Jersey and all the way through Maine.

“It was very unexpected to hear that we won, but it’s a great honor,” Bolduk said.

More information about the organization and how to get involved is available at

Follow Claire Galvin on Twitter - @CGalvinTC.

This article appears in our print edition and in our Chronicle e-edition (available at 4 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. Saturday) complete with all photos and special sections.