This Is My Hartford is a series from the MetroHartford Alliance where we connect with local business owners, community drivers, residents, and employees to find out how the Hartford Region has shaped them throughout their career, and what they have done to shape our city and region.
By Nan Price, Content Manager, MetroHartford Alliance
Next in our series, retired police sergeant of the Hartford Police Department, Karla Medina, Owner and Founder of Sudor Taino Fitness Studio.
KARLA MEDINA: I was born at Hartford Hospital and growing up, we moved to different places in Hartford mainly on Maple Avenue and then the Sheldon Oaks projects. I went to high school in Hartford and commuted from Hartford when I was in college.
So, why Hartford? I think my mom saw it as an opportunity. She was always involved in the community in Hartford, which is where she worked. So, we grew up here and we stayed here.
HOW HAS HARTFORD BECOME A PART OF YOU?
KARLA: Hartford is a part of me because it’s my home. I feel indebted to the community to keep coming back, leading by example, and showing that Hartford is still in my heart. To me, it’s more about showing how I got to where I am today. So, it’s more about the process than the end result. I want to show others that it’s possible to come from Hartford and use what you learned for good—and then keep serving with that narrative.
HOW HAVE YOU BECOME A PART OF HARTFORD?
KARLA: Growing up in Hartford helped me develop an alliance to Hartford. But, at the same time, I knew it was my responsibility to make it out of the circumstances I was in and create opportunities for myself. Becoming a police officer in Hartford was instilled in me very early because I had a knack for serving and I wanted to serve the community where I grew up.
I’ve always been involved with the community in Hartford. I worked with inner city youth with the Hartford Police Activities League (PAL) and did many projects while I was a police officer. Once I retired from the police force, I continued my community involvement.
I have a contract with the City of Hartford in which I lead fitness and wellness workshops for their employees. I’m involved with schools in Hartford doing workshops with kids and teachers. I was involved with the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) Hurricane Relief Center. I sit on a board for Hartford Hospital. I’m involved in a lot of different things because I believe in staying connected to Hartford through meaningful, results-based projects.
HOW DO WE TELL THE STORY OF HARTFORD?
KARLA: We need to focus on the re-cultivation. For me, it’s important that many people I grew up with still claim they are from Hartford because we have an allegiance to the city. We need more of that because the perception is that nothing good comes out of Hartford. We stand strong to show that successes do come out of Hartford—even for those who grew up in challenging circumstances.
I believe Hartford needs to be re-cultivated in the realm of giving back by having people who lead by example explain the process or show that it is hard work but there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s different than showing the end result without providing any action steps or hope or faith in others being able to pull it off.
We can’t lead by example by just saying, “I pulled it off.” We need to show the process. People come back in the community and try to do this, but a workshop or a motivational speech provide the tools to re-cultivate people into a different mindset and show them it’s hard work, but you can do it.
In terms of telling our story, I think we need to focus on sharing stories about people who made it and really emphasizing the process. We should be working hard to show the emergence of people who made a conscious choice and decision to defy the odds.
If we are going to be truth warriors, we have an obligation to funnel that positive information. We can show good examples and then the public is also seeing the same thing. That can create a snowball effect and start to drain the swamp.
People can start to really see there are thousands of people who came out of Hartford and they are successful. When you really look at what we have here, we have a lot! Things are being done now to revitalize and re-cultivate Hartford. Telling our story in a positive realm is another effort to do