Norwich woman takes up father's work to honor 1930s conservation corps crews

Norwich - During the Depression, thousands of jobless young men took advantage of President Franklin Roosevelt's newly created Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC was a government-sponsored program that put people back to work planting trees, building parks, mitigating erosion and cleaning up the mess left behind by the Hurricane of 1938.

Connecticut is the only state that does not have a statue to commemorate the work of some 30,000 CCC workers who carved their own encampments at 22 sites across the state from 1933 to 1942.

Pam Brand of Norwich hopes to correct that oversight.

Brand has taken up her father's quest to raise $20,000 to erect a statue at Chatfield Hollow State Park in Killingworth, the site of the state's first CCC camp. Her father, Walter J. Sekula Sr. of Norwich had served in the CCC in Colorado.

Upon Sekula's retirement from the U.S. Postal Service, he volunteered as director for the Northeast CCC organization that founded a CCC museum in Stafford Springs. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection now runs the museum.

"My father was a strong advocate of building a statue in the state," Brand said. "He passed away two years ago, so I took on the project."

The Connecticut Parks and Forest Association has agreed to serve as the fundraiser host organization.

As Brand was spreading the word about the project, she was contacted by Tom Callinan, Connecticut's first official state troubadour and also a Norwich resident, offering to hold a fundraiser concert for the effort. Callinan's father also had served in the CCC.

The concert will be held at June 1 at the VFW, Post 594. Callinan has written numerous songs about Connecticut sites, events, history and people and also performs traditional songs playing several traditional instruments.

The statue prototype, titled "The Worker," depicts a muscular, shirtless man wearing jeans, boots and a brimmed hat holding an ax. The man is standing on a fieldstone pedestal with a plaque on the front explaining the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

For information about the fundraising effort or the concert, contact Brand at pamb48@sbcglobal.net or (860) 204-8114.

c.bessette@theday.com

Concert fundraiser for Civilian Conservation Corps commemorative statue

Sunday, June 1, 2 p.m.

Norwich VFW Post 594, 30 Connecticut Ave., Norwich.

Suggested donation: $10 for adults; $5 for children under 12 or for senior citizens.

Tickets at the door.

If you go

What: Concert fundraiser for Civilian Conservation Corps commemorative statue

When: Sunday, June 1, 2 p.m.

Where: Norwich VFW Post 594, 30 Connecticut Ave., Norwich.

Suggested donation: $10 for adults; $5 for children under 12 or for senior citizens.

Tickets at the door.

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