Plainville Man’s Legacy of Service, Gardening Memorialized through Demonstration Kitchen, Nutrition Program

A Plainville man’s legacy of health, gardening and community service is now memorialized through a demonstration kitchen that will assist thousands of families to maintain wellness through better nutrition.

Raymond Corsini served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Plainville-based Wheeler Clinic for 27 years. He passed away on November 24 at the age of 85. In early January, Wheeler memorialized his legacy by naming a demonstration kitchen for him at their new Family Health & Wellness Center at 43 Woodland Street in Hartford. The Corsini Kitchen will serve as the hub for nutrition programming and services at the federally qualified health center and will be supported by a philanthropic gift from the family. Corsini’s widow, Lorraine, and daughters Lori (Brantner) and Mary (McDonald) were on hand for the commemoration. Lori Brantner herself also served as a trustee of Wheeler.

This summer, individuals and families that Wheeler serves in the Hartford area will have even have access to fresh vegetables at the kitchen, thanks to an agreement with Holcomb Farm's Fresh Access Program (link).

“Our family is thrilled that the legacy of our father is honored by an organization he believed in and a cause he cared so deeply about,” said Lori Corsini Brantner.

“Ray’s life was devoted to growing: friendships, organizations, communities, and—dear to his heart—nourishment from the soil beneath our feet,” said Susan Walkama, LCSW, Wheeler’s president and CEO, in her remarks at the dedication. “The Corsini Kitchen carries on Ray’s legacy for compassion, health, hard work, and community.”

A Korean War veteran, Ray Corsini grew up in the Bronx in a large extended family. The Corsini family often did not have enough to eat; Ray’s first exposure to gardening was planting vegetables in nearby vacant lots, which sustained the family in the summer and provided canned food for the winter.

He was an avid gardener. He became a Master Gardener through the UCONN Extension, and freely shared his knowledge, volunteering to teach gardening at Wheeler’s Northwest Village School, initiating community gardens, spearheading a parish potato-growing project to raise funds for housing in Central America, assisting neighbors and friends in their gardens, and giving away his own harvest to others in the community.

Ray devoted himself to providing for the Plainville community in many other ways. He served on and led boards of numerous organizations, seeking to expand human services and social justice for the homeless, the poor and those without access to health care. During his time as a trustee for Wheeler, he oversaw tremendous institutional growth through additions and renovations in Plainville, New Britain, and many other locations across the state.

A parishioner of Plainville’s Our Lady of Mercy Church for more than 50 years, Corsini convened the churches in Plainville to create Castle Apartments, a HUD-supported housing project. During his decades of managing the property, he worked to connect tenants to the supports they needed to thrive in the community. In the 1990s, Ray helped launch a homeless shelter in Plainville, and he was a key force in establishing St. Philip House, a residence for persons living with HIV/AIDS. With the encouragement of the town, in 1990 Ray again brought together Plainville’s churches and other organizations, including Wheeler, to launch Plainville Affordable Housing Corporation (PAHC). In two projects over the next 10 years, PAHC created 32 homes for low-income first-time buyers at Cassidy Commons and 21 homes for low- and moderate-income buyers at Bruce and Franklin and Burnham streets in Plainville.

“Ray leaves a legacy of service to the community that is profound and meaningful,” Walkama says. “His hard work and dedication lives on in the hundreds of thousands of individuals and families we served while he guided Wheeler. Ray’s humble nature left an impression on everyone he met; we do not get to meet many people like him in our lives.”

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