Learn more about in-home care options for your loved ones

Given the choice, most of us want to stay in our homes. Sometimes, people need help to remain at home. That's where Always Best Care Senior Services comes in.

Personal Care Consultation


“I’ve been a nurse for over 40 years, and I am currently a nursing professor. When my mom was recently in the hospital, I knew it would not be possible for her to be completely on her own right away. She loves where she resides and enjoys all of the activities that are offered. My goal was to get her back into her apartment as soon as possible with the support she needed to increase her strength and return to her prior level of wellness she had before she went into the hospital. She was used to walking a couple miles a day. When I reached out to ABC I made it clear that my mom would need somebody who would be willing to walk with her in the morning, and in the evening enabling her to get back to her baseline. I would like to complement all of the staff at ABC who provided my mom such wonderful support after two weeks she returned to her baseline and remained in her apartment. She really enjoyed all of the staff that were with her , they were professional they encouraged her to walk, drink fluids, eat and were instrumental in assisting her to reach her prior level of independence. I would strongly recommend ABC to anybody who is in need of support for their loved one.”

Robin Y.

“Mom’s care needs have been progressing over the past month - increased difficulty standing. walking, decreased appetite, increased incontinence. (Part of the expected declining process per her Dr.) Tara has been wonderful in adapting to Mom’s changing needs as they develop and a very helpful partner in troubleshooting. brainstorming how to adapt to best support Mom. It’s also been helpful in my regular communication with Mom’s Dr, to let her know in detail what has come up and how we have approached. Thank you (again) for your talented staff!”

Jeremy H.

“Outstanding personal service from this company. All of the caregivers were personable and provided outstanding care to our aunt. I would highly recommend them to anyone who has an elder family member in need. Also, the staff that helped to set up their services was outstanding as well. They made the decisions easy to understand with no hidden agenda. Thank you again to "ABC!"”


“You can't go wrong with this crew. Extremely patient and caring.”

Daniel S.

“Caring for family can be difficult and challenging at times. It's so nice to know that Always Best Care Senior Services is there to help!”

Cathy K.

“Taylor, John, and Kristine and their crew are the best. They are patient, understanding, and a joy to work with.”

Daniel S.

“Sabina always has a pleasant, caring, and respectful attitude. I feel she treats me as she would as her own mother. She treats me the way she would like to be treated. We are a good “team” together.”

Tracy H.

“Diana has a total commitment of compassion, empathy, and respect for myself and my family. My daughters feel she is truly a tremendous caregiver. They know I am in good hands. She acknowledges with commitment of my physical, emotional, and practical needs, my quality of life has excelled due to Diana’s help. I look forward to her presence everyday her attitude is exceptional, Diana comes to work daily with a smile on her face. She enters the front door, singing softly ready to work. She has never taken a day off, I have had many caregivers, but Diana is truly the best!”

Anne H.

“Tina has been with us since the start, caring for my mom. Tina has nothing but my mom’s best interest at heart. She continues to go above and beyond to care for my mom, and ensure anyone else who may be there also understands my mom’s needs. Tina has even gone so far to rearrange her schedule or give up her free time to stay with my mom to avoid her having someone that doesn’t know her. I can see that she genuinely cares for my mom, and treats her as if she was her own family member. That also goes both ways, my mom lights up when she sees Tina. We consider Tina part of our family.”

David L.

“Always Best Care helped our family get through a very difficult time with my mother's care. Kristine and Taylor are a pleasure to work with. They are very knowledgable and had the answers to all our questions. They were able to help with all aspects of the care we needed. I highly recommend them.”

John S.

“Kristine and John are extremely caring and compassionate about helping their client's and family and making sure they receive the best care available. Highly recommended!”

Greg G.

“We needed some home care services for Dad who has dementia, and we made the right decision to trust ABC Senior Services for this support. Dad was lined up with a caregiver who was attentive and helpful, and she and Dad really hit it off. The management and administrative staff from ABC were also very effective and professional. You'll make a good decision to go with ABC Senior Services...”

Liam M.

“I approached Kristine regarding care for my elderly father. Even though he was outside her service area, she helped to find resources for us. Her commitment to providing outstanding care is only surpassed by her desire to help others. Thank you Kristine!”

Matt B.

“I have known Kristine Lajeunesse for many years now through business networking and she and her Team at Always Best Care are very caring and professional and exactly who you would want on your side if you have a loved one who needs help!”

Ann B.

“The client care at Always Best Care Senior Service is outstanding”

Kimberly O.

“Rosemary has many great qualities. She is a hardworker, sensitive, has a giving nature and has an immense desire to help my father. Reliability is vital trait in Rosemary. When my father was in the hospital and came home she immediately wanted to be by his side. My father has come to rely and depend on Rosemary. She is always on time whether it is giving medication or administering food and often encourages my father and helps my father maintain his dignity”

Denise D.

“Always Best Care provides caregivers to our building on a regular basis when we are short staffed. Due to our licensing, we can only have CNAs on the floor and Always Best Care has provided excellent CNAs every time we need some extra help. All of their CNAs have been helpful, willing to go above and beyond for our residents and we always have great responses from our own CNAs and supervisory staff. I am so thankful to Michelle and Wilda who will always staff a shift that I need, even if I call 30 minutes before the shift starts. You’ve been such a huge help!”

Kaytee S.

“I have known John and Kristine Lajeunesse for almost 20 years and when my dad needed care following a diagnosis of dementia, I knew there wouldn’t be anyone better to call than them. The caregivers that have worked with my dad have been wonderful. They are true saints to my family, allowing us the knowledge that Dad is okay to stay at home. They have navigated all of the changes in his cognitive state with grace and kept my father’s dignity in place. He was always a very active man and the caregivers have managed to keep him active, even as his health declines.”

Belinda F.

“Always Best Care helped me to get care lined up for my uncle, after I received their information from a close friend of mine that also used their agency. My uncle was a very proud man and did not want help from anyone, including family. Taylor met with me and spent time getting to know the ins and outs of my uncle’s care as well as his personality. She asked about his background so that they could look for a caregiver with similar interests. Although he took a turn for the worse rather quickly, the short time care was provided was wonderful. Thank you for your help and compassion.”

Karel O.

“My dad’s caregiver is great. He is a man of few words, but she is able to get him talking about all aspects and experiences of his life. They go out regularly and she encourages my dad to participate in the activities put on by the community he lives in. They run errands, go out for meals, or go for a drive just to get a change of scenery. I was nervous at first about how my dad would take having a caregiver come in to help him, but he seems so happy and has great things to talk about after his time spent with his caregiver.”

Martin F.

“Thank you, Kristine - I am very appreciative of the professional manner with which you and your organization operates. From the initial phone and in-person conversations with Taylor, to the ongoing support of my mother's care - it's been thorough, timely and well managed. I am also struck by how the home-health employees conduct themselves. They are reliable/responsive *and* responsible, and making every effort to work through the challenges day to day with my mother. Thanks for the great job you and your organization are doing. It means a lot to me, especially during this trying time! Best Regards”

Anna T.

“I wanted to take a moment to thank you and your staff for all of your hard work and dedication to their clients. When my parents finally realized they needed help in their home, I chose ABC as the company I felt would be the best fit. Yes, we have had some ups and down, but when you paired Leah with my parents, it was truly a blessing. My parents love her. She genuinely cares for them and they speak highly of her work ethic. As my mom says, “she is too good to be true”. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your working with me to find the right fit. Well on our end, Leah fits like a glove and I hope she feels the same. She is a special person so I wanted to acknowledge her hard work and dedication to my parents. It makes me feel more at ease knowing there is someone coming to the home to properly care for them. Again I want to thank you all and encourage you to keep up the good work.”

Craig F.

“My family provides the care to my mother 24/7, we called Always Best Care to provide respite care to my mom while we took some time to ourselves for a weekend. Mom’s caregiver, Gloria, was great and she had the perfect disposition to work with my mom. She was attentive and kept mom well fed and engaged during the time we were away. We would definitely call Always Best Care again when we need some time away.”


“The caregiver that helped my husband and I were so kind to us both, especially to my husband while I spent some time in the hospital and rehab. Our caregiver brought my husband to see me every day while I was at the hospital and at rehab, I knew he was in excellent hands and I could focus on getting stronger again.”

Heather R.

“i really like my caregiver, Victor very much. Victor is a very patient and observant aide who knows when I need his help. I knew from the first day meeting him that we would get along very well.”

Johnson L.

““I want to give a huge thank you for the care that Always Best Care provided over the last year and a half. They started out assisting just my dad since he was wheelchair bound and then began providing care to my mom as well who had advanced dementia. The two ladies that helped them both did an amazing job and gave me the confidence that they were being well cared for since I live on the other side of the country. Up to my dad’s passing, his caregivers were there for him to provide comfort and companionship while managing my mom’s emotions as well during the difficult time my dad had. Being a nurse myself and in the healthcare field for a while, I had high expectations which were exceeded by the caregivers and office staff of Always Best Care.”

harry B.

“Both of Mom’s caregivers are exceptional. They are always professional, calm and extremely patient with my mom. They know how to keep her calm and to manage her anxiety. My whole family is very grateful, knowing that Mom is getting really competent care, great meals and friendly companionship. Thank you.”

Kathleen F.

“My husband had care from Always Best Care until he passed away. Thankfully he is on his "next journey" and finally pain free, while he was here with us, his caregiver, Craig, did an amazing job caring for him and was here to help us from our first day of services. Craig always managed to get my husband to share stories from his time in the war that even I had not heard before. It was a great way to get to know more of my husband so his memory can continue with others around him.”

Beth F.

“I am very pleased with the care that Craig gave to my husband. My husband enjoyed having another man to talk to instead of conversation only between him and I. Craig managed to keep him occupied and safe so that I could go and get some time to myself, allowing me peace of mind that my husband was in great hands”

Sonia T.

“I hired Always Best Care to help my mom who was living with me at home. She was diagnosed with dementia and within 3 months she could hardly do much for herself anymore. I was able to continue working full time while my mom received care from Always Best Care. We had the same caregiver from day 1 and she was absolutely amazing. She kept everyone in the loop with any changes my mom experienced and the regular in person and phone check ins were a great added support to myself and my family. Thank you ABC for all the help and compassion that you showed my mom until her passing.”


“They are very caring and easy to deal with. They work with the family and the patient to see that the patient has what is needed for their care. In all we had a good experience with Best Care.”

Elaine G.

“Our caregiver is the absolute best, you all got lucky finding her.”

Bob G.

“Anything from Always Best Care is good to have. The care from them has given me my life back. I wasn’t expecting a perfect match on the first caregiver, but Always Best Care did a very good job.”

Claudia B.

“We have been using the services of ABC for almost three years, and I have worked personally with John, Kristine, Taylor, Michelle and Wilda, as well as the many wonderful caregivers who have attended to my mother’s needs with great care and attention. Throughout this time, my mother’s care needs have changed many times, and they have always been very responsive to any requests, including the directives of the hospice nurses that work in concert with all of them. Taylor and Michelle are incredibly diligent about keeping on top of issues that arise day-to-day, and running their questions and concerns by me. I remain a loyal customer to ABC because I feel that my mother is getting really great care, and will continue to see the warm, friendly faces she has come to know and trust today and every day. At 94 yrs old, my mother is quite dependent on the care providers for almost all her needs, and they always show up and make her feel safe and secure.”

Rachel C.

“It has been a true pleasure working with you and your organization. You all demonstrate empathy and compassion in caring for frail elderly family members and insure distant families are comforted knowing you are there.”

Steve S.

“Mom’s caregiver is a part of the family, we absolutely love her!”

Joe L.

“Always Best Care has done a fantastic job in providing us with at-home care for my step-mother while we prepared for her transition to move permanently to a skilled nursing facility. With their help, she was able to spend a full six months at home before moving. We would not have been able to do it without them. All the caregivers we have met and used have been kind and attentive, frequently going the extra mile, whatever that may be on any given day. The office staff is friendly, empathetic and very diligent in keeping all parties informed of all aspects of day-to-day care. They are knowledgeable, respectful and efficient. I would not hesitate in recommending them to anyone who is looking for help in keeping their loved one at home for as long as possible.”

Sarah C.

“I appreciate that they always accommodate me and have someone here to drive me, even if I only call them the day before. I’m so glad I was able to find them, because I didn’t know what I was going to do. I just lost my sister and she helped me out a lot.”

Donna .

“I appreciate that they always accommodate me and have someone here to drive me, even if I only call them the day before. I’m so glad I was able to find them, because I didn’t know what I was going to do. I just lost my sister and she helped me out a lot.”

Janey B.
 In-Home Care Middle Haddam, CT

How does In-home Senior Care in Middle Haddam, CT work?

Home is where the heart is. While that saying can sound a tad cliche, it's especially true for many seniors living in America. When given a choice, older adults most often prefer to grow older at home. An AARP study found that three out of four adults over the age of 50 want to stay in their homes and communities as they age. When you begin to think about why, it makes sense. Home offers a sense of security, comfort, and familiarity.

The truth is, as we age, we begin to rely on others for help. When a family is too busy or lives too far away to fulfill this role, in-home senior care is often the best solution. Home care services allow seniors to enjoy personal independence while also receiving trustworthy assistance from a trained caregiver.

At Always Best Care, we offer a comprehensive range of home care services to help seniors stay healthy while they get the help they need to remain independent. As your senior loved one ages, giving them the gift of senior care is one of the best ways to show your love, even if you live far away.

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 Senior Care Middle Haddam, CT

Aging in Place: The Preferred Choice for Most Seniors

While it's true that some seniors have complicated medical needs that prevent them from staying at home, aging in place is often the best arrangement for seniors and their families. With a trusted caregiver, seniors have the opportunity to live with a sense of dignity and do so as they see fit.

In-home care makes it possible for millions of seniors to age in place every year. Rather than moving to a unfamiliar assisted living community, seniors have the chance to stay at home where they feel the happiest and most comfortable.

Here are just a few of the reasons why older men and women prefer to age at home:


How much does a senior's home truly mean to them? A study published by the American Society on Aging found that more than half of seniors say their home's emotional value means more than how much their home is worth in monetary value. It stands to reason, that a senior's home is where they want to grow old. With the help of elderly care in Middle Haddam, CT, seniors don't have to age in a sterilized care facility. Instead, they can age gracefully in the place they want to be most: their home. In contrast, seniors who move to a long-term care facility must adapt to new environments, new people, and new systems that the facility implements. At this stage in life, this kind of drastic change can be more harmful than helpful.

Healthy Living
Healthy Living

Institutional care facilities like nursing homes often put large groups of people together to live in one location. On any given day, dozens of staff members and caregivers run in and out of these facilities. Being around so many new people in a relatively small living environment can be dangerous for a seniors' health and wellbeing. When you consider that thousands of seniors passed away in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, opting for in-home care is often a safer, healthier choice for seniors. Aging in place has been shown to improve seniors' quality of life, which helps boost physical health and also helps insulate them from viral and bacterial risks found in elderly living facilities.


For many seniors, the ability to live independently with assistance from a caregiver is a priceless option. With in-home care, seniors experience a higher level of independence and freedom - much more so than in other settings like an assisted living community. When a senior has the chance to age in place, they get to live life on their own terms, inside the house that they helped make into a home. More independence means more control over their personal lives, too, which leads to increased levels of fulfillment, happiness, and personal gratification. Over time, these positive feelings can manifest into a healthier, longer life.

Cost and Convenience
Cost and Convenience

More independence, a healthier life, and increased comfort are only a few benefits of aging in place. You have to take into consideration the role of cost and convenience. Simply put, it's usually easier to help seniors age in place than it is to move them into an institutional care facility. In-home care services from Always Best Care, for instance, can be less expensive than long-term solutions, which can cost upwards of six figures per year. To make matters worse, many residential care facilities are reluctant to accept long-term care insurance and other types of payment assistance.

With Always Best Care's home care services, seniors and their families have a greater level of control over their care plans. In-home care in Middle Haddam, CT gives seniors the chance to form a bond with a trusted caregiver and also receive unmatched care that is catered to their needs. In long-term care facilities, seniors and their loved ones have much less control over their care plan and have less of a say in who provides their care.

Empowers Seniors

Affordable Care Plans

In-home care is a valuable resource that empowers seniors to age in place on their own terms. However, a big concern for many families and their loved ones is how much in-home care costs. If you're worried that in-home care is too expensive, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that it is one of the most affordable senior care arrangements available.

Typically, hiring an Always Best Care in-home caregiver for a few hours a week is more affordable than sending your loved one to a long-term care facility. This is true even for seniors with more complex care needs.

At Always Best Care, we will work closely with you and your family to develop a Care Plan that not only meets your care needs, but your budget requirements, too. Once we discover the level of care that you or your senior need, we develop an in-home care plan that you can afford.

In addition to our flexible care options, families should also consider the following resources to help offset potential home care costs:

Veteran's Benefits
Veteran's Benefits

Attendance and aid benefits through military service can cover a portion of the costs associated with in-home care for veterans and their spouses.

Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-Term Care Insurance

Many senior care services like in-home care are included in long-term care insurance options. Research different long-term care solutions to find a plan that provides coverage for senior care.

Private Insurance
Private Insurance

Home care can be included as part of a senior's private insurance plan. Read over your loved one's insurance policy carefully or speak with their insurance provider to determine if in-home care is covered.

Life Insurance
Life Insurance

Depending on the life insurance plan, you may be able to apply your policy toward long-term care. You may be able to use long-term-care coverage to help pay for in-home elderly care.

Respite Care Middle Haddam, CT

During your Care Plan consultation with Always Best Care, your Care Coordinator will speak with you about in-home care costs and what options there may be to help meet your budget needs.

Compassionate Care. Trusted Caregivers

When you or your senior loved one needs assistance managing daily tasks at home, finding a qualified caregiver can be challenging. It takes a special kind of person to provide reliable care for your senior loved one. However, a caregiver's role involves more than meal preparation and medication reminders. Many seniors rely on their caregivers for companionship, too.

Our companion care services give seniors the chance to socialize in a safe environment and engage in activities at home. These important efforts boost morale and provide much-needed relief from repetitive daily routines. A one-on-one, engaging conversation can sharpen seniors' minds and give them something in which to be excited.

At Always Best Care, we only hire care providers that we would trust to care for our own loved ones. Our senior caregivers in Middle Haddam,CT understand how important it is to listen and communicate with their seniors. A seemingly small interaction, like a short hug goodbye, can make a major difference in a senior's day. Instead of battling against feelings of isolation, seniors begin to look forward to seeing their caregiver each week.

Understanding the nuances of senior care is just one of the reasons why our care providers are so great at their job.

Unlike some senior care companies, our caregivers must undergo extensive training before they work for Always Best Care. In addition, our caregivers receive ongoing training throughout the year. This training ensures that their standard of care matches up to the high standards we've come to expect. During this training, they will brush up on their communication skills, safety awareness, and symptom spotting. That way, your loved one receives the highest level of non-medical home care from day one.

 Caregivers Middle Haddam, CT

Taking the First Step with Always Best Care

The first step in getting quality in-home care starts with a personal consultation with an experienced Care Coordinator. This initial consultation is crucial for our team to learn more about you or your elderly loved one to discover the level of care required. Topics of this consultation typically include:

An assessment of your senior loved one


An in-depth discussion of the needs of your senior loved one to remain in their own home


Reviewing a detailed Care Plan that will meet your senior loved one's needs


Our caregivers are trained to spot changes that clients exhibit, like mental and physical decline. As your trusted senior care company, we will constantly assess and update your Care Plan to meet any new emotional, intellectual, physical, and emotional needs.

If you have never considered in-home care before, we understand that you and your family may have concerns about your Care Plan and its Care Coordinator. To help give you peace of mind, know that every team member and caregiver must undergo comprehensive training before being assigned to a Care Plan.

When you're ready, we encourage you to contact your local Always Best Care representative to set up a Care Consultation. Our Care Coordinators would be happy to meet with you in person to get to know you better, discuss your needs, and help put together a personalized Care Plan specific to your needs.

Latest News in Middle Haddam, CT

Developer Meets Unanimous Opposition at Contentious Middle Haddam Historic District Meeting

EAST HAMPTON — Despite warnings from the attorney for the developer, the Middle Haddam Historic District Commission will oppose a proposed zone change for a property located in the historic district at the April Planning and Zoning meeting.Developer William Wayne Rand, under the name Long Hill Estates, LLC, has proposed a zone change from R-2 to commercial for a new 1.5-acre lot that is currently part of 53 Long Hill Road, a 17.6-acre parcel that he purchased on Nov. 20, 2020. The proposed new lot is next to Sports on 66 at 265 ...

EAST HAMPTON — Despite warnings from the attorney for the developer, the Middle Haddam Historic District Commission will oppose a proposed zone change for a property located in the historic district at the April Planning and Zoning meeting.

Developer William Wayne Rand, under the name Long Hill Estates, LLC, has proposed a zone change from R-2 to commercial for a new 1.5-acre lot that is currently part of 53 Long Hill Road, a 17.6-acre parcel that he purchased on Nov. 20, 2020. The proposed new lot is next to Sports on 66 at 265 West High St and is expected to be used for parking.

At Thursday’s commission meeting via zoom, Chair Charles Roberts said the commission held a responsibility to the property owners in the historic district, which was formed in 1977 by a 79 percent approval of 151 landowners. He said property owners in the district are required to apply for a certificate of appropriateness when making exterior changes that can be “viewed from a public way, whether that be road or river.”

“The current property owners expect the Middle Haddam Historic District in the Town of East Hampton to protect these homes and the entire district because they’ve given up some of their rights,” he said.

But Timothy Furey, an attorney with Furey, Donovan, Tracy and Daly, P.C. in Bristol, who represented Rand, said the commission had no jurisdiction or appropriate role in subdivision nor the proposed zone change that the Planning and Zoning Commission will consider on April 7.

“If you do [proceed], and you do act in an ultra vires manner, beyond your role as a commission, and if it damages us, we will explore what our rights are,” said Furey.

Furey said that according to the statute, the commission can comment on an application for a variance or a special exception but not on a subdivision of land or a zoning change of land. The commission can comment on the preservation or changing of structures, he said, but there are no structures proposed as part of the subdivision or zone change.

Furey also disputed the boundary of the historic district and said the property was not included in the original map. He warned the commission members to stop the proceedings.

“You can go forward but you go forward at your own risk and depending on what is said here, we will protect our rights,” he said. “I’ve read the statute and I understand it, and I think you’re way outside of your lane.”

Roberts responded that the commission represents the owners and residents of Middle Haddam and opened the discussion to the commission members and the public.

Ann McKinney of Long Hill Road said she gave up some rights to her home and property when the historic district was drawn.

“Have I always been happy with the Middle Haddam Historic District? No, because there are restraints, but the restraints have proved important to keep this historic district, a historic district,” she said. “Mr. Rand should have been quite aware of the fact that he was purchasing — and I’m sure he is — in the historic district.”

Resident Margaret McCutcheon Faber said the map of the historic district was filed in 1977 and the boundary has not changed. She also said that the State Historic Preservation Office determined that the historic district commission has a statutory right as a fellow land use board to weigh in on the issue in an advisory capacity.

Faber said she had been present when Rand submitted proposals in the past.

“I’ve been on the Middle Haddam Historic District commission before and Mr. Rand has a history of sending his attorney to these meetings and threatening to file suit if things don’t go his way and I think that tactic is underhanded, and I don’t think that the commission should tolerate it,” she said.

Resident Peter Parker commented that Furey “seemed rather angry.”

“I don’t understand why — it’s a perfectly normal thing in this country and in this town for us to discuss any changes that are coming up and sometimes that can lead to a better outcome for everyone involved and I certainly hope that they would take that attitude going forward,” Parker said.

Furey responded that he was sorry if he sounded aggressive or mean-spirited.

“It is my nature, fortunately or unfortunately, but the charge of protecting my clients rights is something that people sometimes take as a threat. I’m sorry,” he said.

Furey said he believed everyone has a right to be heard and urged residents and commission members to speak as individual citizens at the Planning and Zoning meeting.

“I apologize because I think people have a right to speak their thoughts about their property … but I think it’s also important that various commissions do stay in their lane, stay within their statutory authority,” he said.

The commission members voted unanimously to allow Roberts to represent them and to oppose Rand’s proposal at the April 7 Planning and Zoning meeting.

To attend the April 7 meeting, use this recurring link.

Cate Hewitt is a reporter and Associate Editor for CT Examiner. Hewitt covers planning and zoning issues.

[email protected]

East Hampton painter Tom Swimm known for his mastery of color and light

This is a carousel. Use Next and Previous buttons to navigateEAST HAMPTON —Middle Haddam painter Tom Swimm has never owned or sailed a boat, yet is drawn to painting coastal scenes populated with colorful vessels.Tracing his family lineage one day, he discovered most of the men in his family have been fishermen or seafarers, including several U.S. Navy sailors. “I think it’s something in my DNA,” Swimm said.Although he has p...

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EAST HAMPTON —Middle Haddam painter Tom Swimm has never owned or sailed a boat, yet is drawn to painting coastal scenes populated with colorful vessels.

Tracing his family lineage one day, he discovered most of the men in his family have been fishermen or seafarers, including several U.S. Navy sailors. “I think it’s something in my DNA,” Swimm said.

Although he has painted New England barns, street scenes, winter scapes and landscapes, his passion lies in marine scenes. “My subject matter is mostly things that have to do with water: coastal scenes and boats,” he said.

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“I just find it very inspiring as a subject matter," Swimm continued. "The small boats sitting there on the reflected waters are always an inspiration because the reflections are always colorful, especially at certain times of day.”

He prefers to capture scenes in the light of early morning or late in the afternoon, when the light is most interesting. His paintings are well-known for his mastery of color and light. “What I try to always capture in my work is a sense of light and luminous quality, and the water,” he said.

“Water can be challenging, but it’s very fun to paint because it’s always different, always changing, and it’s reflecting all the things that are around it,” the artist added.

Originally from Troy, N.Y., Swimm grew up drawing as a child and started his career at a newspaper right after high school. “I had always wanted to be an artist,” he said. “As a child, it was really what I aspired to do.”

After a few years at the paper, he joined an advertising agency in Albany.

“I worked my way up through the ranks, and when I was 23 years old, I left to open my own advertising agency in Albany. I was on the creative side. I was designing ads and illustrating and doing things that were artistic, but were not necessarily in the fine arts, which is what I’m doing now.”

Tiring of the snowy winters and looking for a change, at 33, he had his wife and their 4-year old son decamped to the sunny shores of Laguna Beach, Calif. The self-taught artist soon exhibited his work in the Festival of Arts, an annual event for artists in the southern part of the state.

In his first year (1988), he sold quite a few paintings, and connected with several art galleries that started showing his work. “It just kind of snowballed from there. I did the festival every year and my career just started taking off after that,” he said.

Eventually, he was showing in about a dozen galleries around the country: from Hawaii and California to Boston and Florida as well as doing commissioned paintings. He's been a professional artist for about 40 years, making a living as an oil painter.

His art has brought him around the world. He has traveled Europe extensively, finding artistic inspiration there, such as in the fishing villages of Italy and Greece. “When I came back from a trip, I would do a body of work from the trip, do a gallery show and it was very successful,” Swimm said.

“At a typical gallery opening, I would have 25 to 30 new paintings, and we would sell half of them the first night of the show,” he continued.

Two years ago, during the pandemic, the Swimms bought a house online, and settled in Connecticut to be closer to their grown son in New York City, as well as get back to their East Coast roots. Now semi-retired, he is no longer creating the body of work he did at the height of his career, but is still traveling and painting.

He works in his home studio using reference photos he takes when he travels. “I like the control of a studio, because it’s my own environment and it doesn’t change,” he said.

“I always take photos, even when I already have like a couple thousand photos of a place. I’m constantly documenting things and I use the photo reference for all my work that I create,” Swimm pointed out.

“What I try to bring to the painting is what I felt when I was there, to try to put the viewer where I was, and give them the same feeling that I had when I was in that place — the smell of the ocean or the wind or the sun,” he noted.

In addition to finding new favorite places to paint in Mystic, at the Comstock Bridge near his house or Devil’s Hopyard State Park, he enjoys whimsical works such as pet portraits. Swimm started doing the latter for friends while living in California, and has continued them here.

“Everybody here has a dog. It’s kind of a fun thing to do, and I enjoy it because I love animals,” he said.

For information, visit tomswimmfineart.com and tomswimmfineart on Instagram.

Middle Haddam Picnic Honors WWII Vets

Middle Haddam — Twenty-one World War II veterans gathered with family and friends to share memories at a special picnic held in honor of D-Day, which was June 6, 1944.Now in its eighth year, the event was organized by Pierre Faber and his wife Margaret McCutcheon Faber at their residence at Highveld Farm in Middle Haddam.Charles Alex, age 99, of New Britain, who was the oldest veteran at the picnic, served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. At the end of 1940, he joined the Army as an infantryman in the ...

Middle Haddam — Twenty-one World War II veterans gathered with family and friends to share memories at a special picnic held in honor of D-Day, which was June 6, 1944.

Now in its eighth year, the event was organized by Pierre Faber and his wife Margaret McCutcheon Faber at their residence at Highveld Farm in Middle Haddam.

Charles Alex, age 99, of New Britain, who was the oldest veteran at the picnic, served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. At the end of 1940, he joined the Army as an infantryman in the 43rd division, serving in the Pacific in New Guinea and the Philippines for three years. In 1944 and 1945, he served in Germany and France.

“I got out of the service for four years but I stayed in the National Guard and got called back to active duty in 1949,” he said. He served in Korea and was later called to serve in Vietnam. He entered the military service as an “E1” and retired 29 years later as a Lt. Colonel.

This year was the third time he had been at the Fabers’ picnic. “I got an invitation from a friend.”

Alex said he admired Pierre Faber for putting the event together.

“Anyone who’s doing what he’s doing has to be truly American,” he said. “It’s terrific that he would go through all of this expense and time to recognize the veterans.”

George Ruhe, 93, who sat near his wife, Helga Ruhe, said he joined the Army and went to World War II when he was 18 years old. He grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Ruhe said that when saw destruction “like I had never seen in my life” during the war.

“We knew we were moving up close to where there was activity. The artillery and the flashes in the sky made it obvious that something was going on, but we didn’t know what. We approached with trepidation and at that point I said, ‘God, don’t let me be a coward, don’t let me be a coward.’”

He said his most shocking experience was seeing the concentration camp at Flossenburg.

“Getting in there and seeing the depravity man can commit against man, we saw bodies lying all over the place,” he said.

Ruhe met his wife, Helga, in Germany where she was working in an American Post Exchange, known as a PX. After he left Germany in 1946, the two wrote numerous letters to one another until he proposed in January 1947.

Now married for 71 years, Ruhe smiled and said they hope to die together and that “they put us in one big casket.”

Angelo Bartolotta, 94, of Middletown, joined the Army when he was 18 and fought at Omaha Beach and in the Battle of the Bulge as an anti-aircraft artilleryman.

“It was quite an experience,” he said. “I was lucky, I was never wounded.”

Pierre Faber said he and his family started the event eight years ago to honor WWII veterans after he got to know a few veterans in Middle Haddam.

“I come from a background where WWII veterans are held in very high esteem and great honor, so finding WWII veterans was a big deal for me and an amazing opportunity. I thought why not get a bunch of them together.”

The event gathered 11 veterans from the area the first year and grew from there to about 50 or 55 people a few years ago.

“The more people heard about it, the more people wanted to be part of it,” he said.

As the veterans are aging, the number who come to the picnic is diminishing.

“We’re fighting a losing battle and we know that,” he said. “And that’s just the nature of what we do, it’s going to get smaller and smaller.”

Even though the memory of World War II is fading, Faber said he wanted the general public to remember the war and how it affected the United States.

“Maybe 10 or 15 years ago a lot of people still had grandparents who were involved in the war but more and more people are losing that connection and forgetting — it’s sad. The people who are conscious of history and study history are always going to understand it, but the general population is losing touch,” he said. “I want people to remember how important it was, how big it was and what this generation did for us and the extent to which the rest of us are benefiting from the sacrifices they made and the triumph that they achieved.”

Cate Hewitt is a reporter and Associate Editor for CT Examiner. Hewitt covers planning and zoning issues.

[email protected]

Middle Haddam Couple Tailors One-of-a-Kind Safaris in Africa

MIDDLE HADDAM — “It’s almost like you’re on a different planet. The fact that the animals are in charge, you’re a guest there and you realize that pretty quickly. This is their habitat. This is their world, and you’re visiting,” said Pierre Faber, co-owner of Classic Africa, a safari company that custom designs trips to southern and eastern Africa.“That’s a very different feeling from what you’re accu...

MIDDLE HADDAM — “It’s almost like you’re on a different planet. The fact that the animals are in charge, you’re a guest there and you realize that pretty quickly. This is their habitat. This is their world, and you’re visiting,” said Pierre Faber, co-owner of Classic Africa, a safari company that custom designs trips to southern and eastern Africa.

“That’s a very different feeling from what you’re accustomed to if you’ve grown up in the developed world so it’s a very powerful experience,” he said. “People fall in love with it. A lot of our clients are very well traveled and almost all of them will tell you that it’s the most amazing trip they’ve ever taken so far.”

Some clients have come back 10 times or more and the company continues to find new places for them to explore, said co-owner Margaret McCutcheon Faber.

Their clients have no shortage of destinations — the company offers safaris in nine countries: Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Rwanda, Mozambique, and the Seychelles.

Most want to see the wildlife, Pierre said, and the predominantly savannah habitat in southern and eastern parts of Africa supports the highest level of mammalian diversity on earth.

Pierre said he and Margaret work to tailor the experience to the client’s desires, which can also include an urban experience, perhaps in Cape Town, or a beach experience in Seychelles or Mozambique.

“But broadly the majority of people that we work with are going first and foremost for safari and it’s those countries of southern Africa and East Africa where we focus on where they go to see the wildlife,” he said.

“From an early age I developed a love for the African version of wildlife,” said Pierre, who grew up in South Africa and whose family vacationed by traveling into the bush.

He became a wildlife veterinarian and planned to specialize in wildlife fishery medicine, but his path diverged when he won a Rhodes Scholarship to attend University of Oxford, where he earned his doctorate in business administration.

“At that point, this is in the early 90s, South Africa was just emerging from apartheid and there was a whole emerging concept of ecotourism globally … It was just a very, undiscovered part of the world,” he said. “There were phenomenal natural resources there and ecotourism was this emerging industry and so I thought I have this scientific background and I’ll get a business degree and then come back and work in this emerging ecotourism industry in southern Africa.”

Margaret grew up in Middle Haddam about a mile from where the couple lives with their two sons. She attended Connecticut College and transferred to New York University where she studied cultural anthropology and art history. A few years later, while managing a field station in Yungaburra, Australia, she received news that she had been accepted to Oxford where she earned a Master of Studies in ethnology and museum ethnology and a PhD in cultural anthropology.

Margaret was a rower but the athletics team at Oxford needed discus throwers for an upcoming varsity match versus University of Cambridge.

“They needed throwers, and I was strong at the time so they recruited me and Pierre was my coach, so he had to teach me how to throw the discus in two weeks,” she laughed. “I decided he was kind of nice so I gave up rowing and transferred over to throwing events in athletics. We became weightlifting partners and the rest of that was history.”

For her field work, Margaret traveled to Madagascar a number of times and Pierre visited her from South Africa.

“I was planning to become a professor of anthropology incorporating history into it and archaeology, so I had a different path in mind. But we started and I knew he was interested in ecotourism and I was certainly interested in the cultural aspects of Africa and so we thought it might be a good match,” she said.

Pierre said it was obvious to both of them that they had a strong connection to Africa.

“We both had an interest in different elements of Africa and we wanted to do something together. We wanted to follow our passions but also do something where we could work together and create something together. And that’s where Classic Africa was born,” he said.

The biggest challenge of a safari is traveling to Africa, which can entail 16 or 17 hours of flying time on a direct flight, Pierre said.

“Once on the ground, there are very few challenges particularly because of the types of places that they stay. When you arrive at the airport, someone meets you and from that point you’re hosted every step of the way,” said Pierre. “It’s expensive. You’re paying a lot of money, but you’re very well cared for, you’re very hosted.”

The level of dining is a highlight for many clients, said Pierre.

“The chefs put a real effort into the food and the presentation, the wines. Farm to table is popular right now and especially with safari camps in more remote areas. It’s a much more sophisticated experience that people are expecting. A lot of people have in mind sort of eating over fire, but most of the camps have their own gardens and they have highly trained chefs often with international experience,” he said.

Safaris are expensive, Pierre said, but some of the funds go toward conservation.

“For the governments of Africa, the natural resources are a very valuable asset from which they generate revenue. For the local people, it’s important that the wildlife is a benefit to them because when you’re living alongside things like elephants and lions, it is very hazardous and it’s very difficult to be a farmer adjacent to a wildlife area,” he said. “So it’s important that the animals being there is worth more to the farmer than the animals not being there.”

He said there are a number of stakeholders in support of conservation in African countries and it was important that the local people benefit as well as the government of the country.

“That’s something that we have to help people understand in terms of why safari is so expensive, that there are a lot of constituencies that depend on safari and conservation, and the contribution that your trip is making towards conservation,” he said.

Pierre said he travels twice a year to check on the safari sites.

“For example, in a few weeks, in April, I’ll be heading over to South Africa and Botswana on a reconnaissance trip. It’s important that we have experienced all of the innovations and all the properties because whatever we recommend to our clients, it’s important that we’ve personally experienced it and seen what it’s like so that we can match people to places,” he said.

Before the pandemic, the company worked with about 400 clients a year and business is slowly starting to return.

“Basically, pretty much around this time last April, all the countries of Africa shut down or went into lockdown. They started emerging in July or September. So, from the second half of last year, the countries were open for people who wanted to travel,” he said. “We’ve had a handful of people who have traveled since then.”

The abrupt shutdown last year was difficult and most clients wanted to postpone. This year a handful of new bookings have appeared and the company is now working about two months in advance.

“For the first time since the pandemic began, we have more clients that may want to travel. We’re starting to see that, barring unforeseen circumstances, we’re turning a corner,” he said.

As more people are vaccinated, countries may drop testing requirements, which will make travel between countries in Africa easier.

“Hopefully by the peak of summer season we won’t be dealing with these challenges so much, but right now every time you move from one country to another, you’ve got to get a test,” he said. “It’s definitely an additional complication that we’ve never had to deal with before.”

“Our philosophy with conservation is basically summed up with ‘conservation for education’ so most of the projects that we support are focused on resource research or educating the local people,” said Pierre. “The strategic thinking there is that the more people that recognize the value of wildlife, the more likely they are to protect it.”

The company donates a portion of annual profits to conservation and community projects in Africa, focusing currently on elephant migration in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.

Classic Africa also offers a scholarship program to help high school students in Zimbabwe pay for their education since high school there is not free. In addition, the company funds four annual postgraduate scholarships for African students at Oxford’s Linacre College.

Over the next five or 10 years Pierre said the company will continue to offer the same high quality trips it has been known for since 1999, with some potential for expansion.

“More and more people have heard about the forest becoming a more established type of vacation so I think there is definitely growth potential,” he said.

Margaret said she has worked to create a handmade experience for guests and plans to maintain an individual level of attention to detail.

“We create their travel documents with leather bound books and I’m tying everything up with raffia and using a fountain pen, so everything is curated and has that handmade kind of approach,” she said.

She said she is hoping to stay small and hands-on enough that the client is always dealing with the owner.

“We spend a lot of time with it because attention to detail is extremely important, so everything has to be perfect,” she said.

For more information, call 888-227-831, email [email protected] or visit www.classicafrica.com.

All photos are courtesy of Classic Africa

Cate Hewitt is a reporter and Associate Editor for CT Examiner. Hewitt covers planning and zoning issues.

[email protected]

Haddam official declares emergency as colossal ice jam clogs Connecticut River

This is a carousel. Use Next and Previous buttons to navigateHADDAM — The town’s top official declared a state of emergency Wednesday night, acknowledging she has exhausted all resources dealing with the repercussions of a massive, six-mile-long ice jam...

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HADDAM — The town’s top official declared a state of emergency Wednesday night, acknowledging she has exhausted all resources dealing with the repercussions of a massive, six-mile-long ice jam backing up the Connecticut River.

“I want to be more proactive than reactive,” said First Selectwoman Lizz Milardo, considering the weekend is coming and that the town has a non-paid fire and EMS force. “Everyone in this town is a volunteer.

“It gives me the tools to put everyone on notice to say, ‘This is what we have to do.’ If I have to force any evacuations, I can. If I need to close roads, I can.”

Her appeal to the governor cited “a condition of danger to life and property.”

Temperature fluctuations are the culprit. The river froze, then melted with the rain last weekend, then froze again, Milardo said. “We don’t really know how thick it is or how deep it is.”

The U.S. Coast Guard cutters Bollard and Hawser are working in tandem to penetrate the fields of broken-up blocks of ice after meeting in Essex Thursday at 10 a.m., Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier said Thursday afternoon.

With temperatures hovering around freezing, crews “got underway assessing the river to see if there are any major pockets of ice, and to look for debris,” he said.

Wednesday morning, the Coast Guard deployed the tug Hawser from New York to relieve its 60-foot cutter Bollard, which was turned back Tuesday at Essex.

The vessels attack the ice together, Strohmaier said.

“It got to the point where the capability of the cutter itself maxed out and there was a lot of debris and unknown objects in the river,” he said.

The weather is a big factor in Coast Guard operations, he said. “If the temperatures get cold again, it is possible that could create a return of ice, so they’re trying to cut a path so the ice can proceed downriver and eventually proceed down to the (Long Island)Sound.”

Their mission has become more urgent with warmer weather anticipated for the weekend, Strohmaier said.

The ice is jammed up in two locations, said the hobbyst photographer and Higganum resident Eweather, who declined to give his real name due to his vocation. He’s been documenting weather in his area along the Connecticut River for a decade.

Since Tuesday, Eweather has provided images, videos and time-lapse footage of what nature can do in winter on his Twitter account and Facebook page.

Numerous meterologists and reporters have cited the social media posts he’s pieced together from his observances and others’ on social media.

“When we originally went through that cold spell, the river froze, so it was one big sheet of ice across. It reminded me of when a pickup truck drove across the ice in Haddam,” he said. “When the rain came, it warmed up.”

Then the river levels rose, ice chunks broke up, began to flow downstream, and got caught in places like the East Haddam Swing Bridge, he said. “They all pushed together.”

The ice originally formed Saturday. “Sunday, it broke loose and we saw a lot of damage,” he said, destroying docks, retaining walls and some houses.

The river rose and it was warmer when we got the rain, he said. “There are still big pieces, chunks, of ice a foot thick moving down the river.

“The power is incredible. It takes out anything in its path,” he said, noting his mother’s yard sustained damage to part of her patio terrace. One of his videos shows giant slabs of “very, very, heavy rocks, splitting within seconds from the enormous pressure.”

The sound left him dumbstruck, he said.

Eweather said there’s a smaller ice field in Essex, just north of Hamburg Cove, and the colossal one just north of the swing bridge, which spans through to Pratt & Whitney in Middletown.

Milardo said she’s concerned and frustrated at the situation of not knowing what is happening with the ice.

“Today it’s a little better,” she said Thursday afternoon. She’s hearing from residents that low-lying areas in town and across the river in Haddam Neck — both sides of the Connecticut River — are experiencing significant flooding in spots.

“It’s getting to the point, ‘Where is all the ice going to go?’ The water line is coming up pretty far considering we’re in winter,” said Milardo, who was reassured a bit Thursday afternoon after a conference call with the Coast Guard.

“Even the snowfall we just got would only cause a half-inch to an inch of additional water” in the river, she said marine officials told her.

She’s encouraged that the cutter seems to be making progress. That, combined with rain expected to come Tuesday, could help unclog the channel, she said.

The tugs are plodding along, making headway, Milardo said, cutting a little bit at a time, then watching where the ice is going. “They, they go back to make sure it’s stacking on the shore.

“They don’t expect (the cutters) to get to the Swing Bridge until Saturday then move up toward Middletown after that. They’re moving very slowly, but they sound hopeful. They’re chipping away at it little by little, following the deep part of the channel. I’m hoping that’s going to do it.”

Milardo said she’s consulted selectmen from surrounding towns, fire chiefs and staff at the Region 2 Department of Homeland Security for their opinions.

“The big if is ‘what’s going to happen?’ The question for me is — and time will tell — if they’re able to break through, how much water is going to come?”

Meanwhile, the Connecticut River at Middle Haddam is under a flood warning through 6 a.m. Saturday, according to the National Weather Service, which expects river levels to slowly recede through Saturday morning.

Managing Editor Cassandra Day can be reached at [email protected].


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