Hoffman Employees Visit Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation

On Wednesday, April 16, Hoffman employees, Maria Garcia and Susan Lane, met with the wonderful people of Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation to tour their facility and get a glimpse into how the remarkable German Shepherd Guide Dogs are raised, trained and matched with blind clients.

Pictured from left: Susan Lane, Hoffman Auto Group; Macey, Fidelco Guide Dog in Training; and, Maria Garcia, Hoffman Auto Group

Pictured from left: Susan Lane, Hoffman Auto Group; Macey, Fidelco Guide Dog in Training; and, Maria Garcia, Hoffman Auto Group

Both Garcia and Lane had a first-hand experience to see what it is like to put complete trust in the dog.  Both women were given a blindfold walk with Macey, Fidelco Guide Dog in Training.  Macey navigated around obstacles on the course as well as up and over steps and curbs.  One of many fascinating aspects of the training is that guide dogs must be taught to think that they are 6’ tall and 3’ wide so as not to lead their client under a low hanging branch or other object simply because the dog would be able to walk underneath.  One of the obstacles was a bar set about 5’ high; Macey knew to bring Maria and Susan to the side rather than under the bar.  “I have a greater appreciation for people who are blind and the trust they must have in their dog while walking around. My five-minute trust-walk doesn’t even come close to the daily living experiences of individuals with varying degrees of blindness, but it certainly gave me the opportunity to understand the importance of a trusting bond between guide dog and client,” stated Susan. “They are truly amazing dogs,” she continued, “The stories of people who benefit from the devotion and service of guide dogs are heartwarming. More people need to hear them – but, be sure to bring tissues and wear waterproof mascara.”

Susan Lane, Reputation Management & Social Media Specialist, Hoffman Auto Group, is guided by Macey, Fidelco Guide Dog in Training, and her skilled Fidelco Trainer, Tommy Mourad.

Susan Lane, Reputation Management & Social Media Specialist, Hoffman Auto Group, is guided by Macey, Fidelco Guide Dog in Training, and her skilled Fidelco Trainer, Tommy Mourad.


Fidelco’s roots reach back to 1960 when Charlie and Robbie Kaman took their love of German Shepherd dogs a step further into the possibilities of helping people who are legally blind. With the mission to “promote increased independence and mobility to men and women who are blind by providing them with the highest quality guide dogs,” this internationally-recognized guide dog organization has trained and matched nearly 1,400 guide dogs across the nation, in 41 states, with over 280 of them in Connecticut. They have reached lives as far north as five Canadian provinces.

Fidelco is the pioneer of “In-Community Placement” whereby a trainer personally transports the guide dog to their new client and works with the team for 3 weeks to ensure maximum success and limited stress for both the guide dog and client.  Mutual trust is critical to success and having an intelligent and trustworthy dog is what Fidelco provides.  Volunteers who serve as “puppy raisers” assist in the beginning stages of caring for these loyal and trustworthy servants.  In partnership with the skilled trainers, the guide dogs of Fidelco reach the age of two with over 15,000 hours of hands-on training. Dogs learn to navigate through homes, streets, offices and more and are prepared to make decisions that will serve and protect their client.  A term called “intelligent disobedience” is learned by these amazing animals to know when to make the choice to “disobey” their client who, unable to see an approaching vehicle, gives the command to proceed across a street.  This exemplifies the amazing bond of trust.

Each guide dog serves an average of 10 years with clients.  Fidelco provides lifetime client service with annual follow-up visits and 24/7 issue resolution.  The direct costs in each dog is approximately $45,000 over the course of their training and service.  In order to achieve their mission, Fidelco relies solely on donations from individuals, organizations and fund raising events. Fidelco is very efficient: 81% of their expenses provide Core Program services. The remaining 7% and 12% of expenses cover fundraising efforts and general administrative expenses (salaries, office maintenance, etc.). So, what is the cost to the client? Nothing, other than the routine care and feeding of their personal guide dog.

The Hoffman Auto Group is proud to support such a well-run organization that provides a valuable service to people who are blind resulting from military combat or natural causes.

Maria Garcia, Marketing Events & Public Relations Specialist, Hoffman Auto Group, walks through a series of obstacles guided by Macey, Fidelco Guide Dog in Training, and her skilled Fidelco Trainer, Tommy Mourad.

Maria Garcia, Marketing Events & Public Relations Specialist, Hoffman Auto Group, walks through a series of obstacles guided by Macey, Fidelco Guide Dog in Training, and her skilled Fidelco Trainer, Tommy Mourad.

Maria commented, “In a world of immediate gratification and convenience it is very easy to forget what’s important and what we should be grateful for every single day.  What a reminder I got when I visited the Fidelco Headquarters!  After participating in the blindfold walk, I have a newfound appreciation for the guide dogs and the trust clients put in their magnificent dogs. I was surprised how challenging it can be to give total trust to a dog, but what an absolutely rewarding one it was. The many lives the organization touches is heartwarming to witness. It is an honor to be a part of what this organization stands for.”


We encourage you to come see for yourself at the Fidelco Open House on Saturday, May 3, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at their campus in Bloomfield.  This free event is ideal for families and people of all ages. Come tour the campus and enjoy the puppy, police K9 and Guide Dog demonstrations. Experience the blindfold walk with professional Fidelco Certified Trainers and Guide Dogs and learn what it means to “trust the dog.” Vision screenings by Lions Club members. Special Lions Club Appreciation reception to be held at noon. Event held rain or shine.  For more information, visit www.fidelco.org   Hoffman Auto Group, Fidelco, Macey and her “co-workers” look forward to seeing you there!

Two-year old, Macey, Fidelco Guide Dog in Training

Two-year old, Macey, Fidelco Guide Dog in Training

Free Dental Clinic in Hartford

CTMOMHoffman Auto Group is pleased to sponsor the Connecticut Mission of Mercy (CTMOM) Free Dental Clinic at the XL Center in Hartford on Friday, April 25 and Saturday, April 26. The doors open at 6 a.m. and patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis.

This clinic provides free dental care to individuals who are uninsured or underserved. Please SHARE this valuable information so they are able to reach everyone who needs the care.

CTMOM is funded entirely through corporate and individual donations, and staffed by approximately 1,600 dental/medical professionals and civilian volunteers, the program is the largest temporary dental clinic in the state.

Services provided include: cleanings, x-rays, fillings, extractions, root canals, and limited partial dentures. Oral health education and nutritional instruction are also provided as oral hygiene and making healthy food choices is a factor in good overall health.

For more details about this wonderful organization please visit Connecticut State Dental Association.

Spring Into Fun!

daffoldilSpring Break Activities

Middletown, CT: Daffodil DayWadsworth Mansion at Long Hill celebrates April with its annual daffodil day and kids fest Sunday April 13, 1-4pm.  This free, family event features guided tours of the mansion and gardens, entertainment and children’s activities, including a dress-up tea party for ages 6 and under.

West Hartford, CT: The New Children’s Museum: April 12 to 19. Explore the moon through story time and with hands-on activities, weekdays at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Planetarium show at Travelers Science Dome; new permanent exhibit “ElectriCity,” where future scientists and engineers can assemble their own circuits, trace the path of currents through switches and circuits, and become human conductors themselves. Schedule at The Children’s Museum.

Mashantucket Pequot Museum: Extended hours during Spring break and educational events for all ages, April 12 to 20. “Backyard Monsters: The World of Insects” exhibit runs through May 17; April 12, 1-2 p.m., Adam Harris, of Harris in Wonderland, talks about unique features of insects that make them perfectly adapted to survival in their environments; soapstone carving workshop April 12, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; April 18, noon to 3 p.m., create a buggy monster; April 14 and 16, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., wildlife rehabilitators bring their program on rescued birds of prey to Gathering Space. Go to Mashantucket Pequot Museum for admission fees and hours.

Hartford, CT: Connecticut Science Center: open daily April 14 to 20, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Four floors and 165-plus hands-on LostEgypt_calbannerexhibits including “Lost Egypt.” See 3D movies and participate in vacation exploration camps (April 14-18). Admission and information: 860-SCIENCE or CT Science Center

 Ansonia Nature Center: Spring Break Nature Days, April 14 through 18. Schedule: 4- and 5-year-olds meet 9 a.m. to noon; 6- to 11-year-olds meet from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Explore the 150 acres the park offers. Register in person. Call for availability and cost: 203-736-1053.

Niantic, CT: Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut: “Stories Galore and More” April 14 to 18, 10 a.m. Authors share their stories, how they get their ideas, and the process of writing books. Museum educators provide hands-on activities and crafts that relate to each author. Visitors leave with their own book. Special events include: Farmer Minor and Daisy the Pig visit April 14 at 2 p.m.; and April 15, at noon, FoxCT TV’s chief meteorologist Joe Furey visits for a ribbon cutting on the updated weather station exhibit. Included with museum admission: $7 per person, ages 1 and older. More information here

Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk: Spring vacation adventures, for ages 6-12, April 14 through 18. Age-appropriate activities exploring a watery world. 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. ages 6 to 9 get a different topic each day; sign up for one day, some days or all. Ages 9 through 12 do a five-day Junior Marine Biologist program. Advance registration required by going here

Canton, CT: Sur La Table: Kids Cooking Camp, April 14 through 18, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For ages 8 through 12. Call for cost and to register: 800-243-0852.

kidscookSo .Glastonbury, CT: Welles-Shipman-Ward House: April 15, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Ages 8 to 12 prepare a colonial style meal. Curator Lin Scarduzio will portray Jerusha Welles, wife of original owner of the 1755 CT Valley River mansion. Children prepare lunch, an ancient 18th century macaroni and cheese recipe. $15. Reservations required: 860-633-6890.

Berlin, CT: Kitchen Gadgets and Beyond: Make, Bake and Decorate, April 12, 10 a.m. to noon. Use baking molds, pastry bags and icings to make big 7″ puppy cookies and decorate them to look like their favorite pets. $35 (includes a 9″ puppy cake mold for kids to take home). Registration: 860-828-9601 and at ZandaPanda.

Hamden, CT: Eli Whitney Museum: Earth Week vacation programs, April 14 through 18, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Descriptions of the programs and images of projects are available at Eli Whitney Museum

Kensington, CT: New Britain Youth Museum at Hungerford Park: Vacation classes, April 14 through 17, 9 a.m to noon, for ages 6 to 8. Topics are April 14, animals; April 15, trail walk and plants; April 16, kitchen chemistry; and April 17 water discovery. $27 per class for members or $100 for all four days; $30 per class for non-members or $115 for all four days. Pre-registration required at New Britain Youth Museums.

Essex, CT: Connecticut River Museum: Programs run April 14 to 18, 9 a.m. to noon. Each workshop, for ages 6 to 12, includes exploration activities in the museum, time outdoors doing nature, science and history projects and arts and crafts. Programs are $25 per day, $110 per week for members ;$30 or $135 for nonmembers. Advance registration required, information at CT River Museum

New Haven, CT: Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History: April 14 through 17. Events include “Skeletons in the Closet: It’sdinostparktranspdilosm ID Day at the Peabody” April 14, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (included with museum admission: $5-9, under age 3 free) and “Family Day at the Peabody Museum,” April 16, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (included with admission). Also, visit the “Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies” exhibit. Information here.

Foxwoods Resort Casino: Kid’s Week, April 14-17, for children of all ages. Includes free movie screenings; face painting and airbrush tattoos; arts and crafts; and “Kiddie Game Lounge” where children are invited to test their skills at classic board games. Experience bungee jumping on the Grand Lawn, for $7. Dates and times may vary. Events schedule at Foxwoods, click on Kids Week.

Springfield, MA: “Disney On Ice”: Princesses & Heroes! April 16 and 17 at 7 p.m.; April 18, 3 and 7 p.m.; April 19, 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m.; and April 20, 3 p.m. Ticket information at  800-745-3000 and Disney on Ice.



Easter Activities

Middlefield, CT: Lyman Orchards: Saturday, April 12, at the Apple Barrel. Children ages 1 to 10. Schedule: 10:30 a.m. for ages 1 to 3; 11:15 a.m. ages 1 to 3; noon for ages 4 to 6; and 12:45 p.m. for ages 7 to 10. Search for apples hidden in a hay maze; visit with the Easter Bunny, face painting and a free magic show. Pony rides for kids and horse-drawn wagon rides. $5 per child. Registration required. Rain date is April 19.

Farmington, CT: Village Gate: Saturday, April 12, at 11 a.m. Traditional hunt for candy-filled eggs, refreshments, and Easter Bunny visit. Bring baskets for egg collection. Rain or shine. Reservations: 860-676-8626.

New Britain Youth Museum at Hungerford Park: Eggstravaganza, Saturday, April 19, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Easter story, visit with rabbits and hunt for Easter surprises. Egg hunt times: 10:45 a.m. for children 4 and under; 11:45 a.m. for ages 5 and older. Members free, non-members $5 per child. Information: 860-827-9064 and New Britain Youth Museum.

Norwalk, CT: Stepping Stones Museum for Children: Egg-straordinary Egg-stravaganza, Saturday, April 19, 10:30 .m. to 12:30 p.m. Egg painting table, egg flipping station, egg balancing competition, kid-friendly music and more. Information here.

Mystic, CT: Olde Mistick Village: Saturday, April 19, at 11:45 a.m. Two-year-olds and younger meet with Mr. Bunny in the gazebo from noon to 1 p.m.; 3-year-olds hunt for eggs at noon sharp in the apple orchard; 4-year-olds meet at 12:15 p.m.; 5 to 7 year olds meet at 12:30 p.m.; and 8 to 10 year olds meet at 12:45 p.m. Information at Olde Mistick Village.


April 2014 is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

One Text Cld Wreck it AllDistracted driving is becoming a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways.  Here, at the Hoffman Auto Group, we encourage all drivers- young, old, new and experienced- to be smart about their driving.

Thousands die needlessly each year because people continue to use their cell phones while driving, handheld or, yes, even hands-free. We encourage you to join the National Safety Council (NSC) this April in urging those you care about to:

Stop all cell phone use while driving- this includes both calling or texting

Recognize that hands-free devices offer no safety benefit

Understand the dangers of the cognitive distraction to the brain

Tell others about the dangers of cell phone distracted driving

No text or call is that important that it can’t wait for you to pull over or arrive alive!

Take the Pledge to Drive Cell Free

How many will it take? Thousands die needlessly each year because people continue to use their cell phones while driving. Make the decision to stop using your phone behind the wheel today.

NSC estimates almost 25 percent of car crashes involve cell phone use. Driving is a complex task that requires eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and the brain focused on the task of driving. Drivers engaged in cell phone conversations, handheld or hands-free, are cognitively distracted and can fail to see up to 50 percent of their driving environment including stop signs, pedestrians and red lights.

Pledge like a life depends on it. Because it does.

Hands Free is NOT Risk Free

Provided by The National Safety Council