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Updated: Mar 24, 2022

Swift tenants collaborate to secure jobs for neighborhood residents.

Anthony showed up at 10 Love Lane saying Dr. Ghazi from Build a Better You, LLC (Our Grey House Tenant) sent him. I asked if he was actually looking for Dr. Ghazi. "No, Dr. Ghazi sent me down here to report to work," he said.

I knew he was convinced, so I checked in with the Swift Team to see if there are any referrals expected and received a text saying Chef Walter is actually starting a Spring Time Hiring Drive at Swift to scale his business into driving force behind efforts at creating community gathering space at Swift.

Chef Walt will be providing culinary ambiance to to our "Sundays at Swift" series being produced by Breakfast Lunch and Dinner. The event begins, March 27 at 12 Noon and will run until 3 pm.. This Sunday, Chef is hosting a "Sunday Brunch", adding flavor and the network his food brings to campus to a sit down dining experience, accentuated by music by Conway Campbell and Friends.

Yes, reserve your spot at this Sunday's event. Enjoy brunch, good music, and a great session with Kamora Harrington , bringing Kamora's Cultural Corner and community engagement activities to the event. The series could serve as a great post-church experience right here in the middle of Hartford's Northeast Neighborhood!

This week helps us realize so many community benefit opportunities in one event! We're activating the Swift Campus for the Arts, Entertainment, and Commerce and providing business operators opportunities to market and produce events that increase their bottom line and, in the case of Chef Walter, helping to increase the community bottom line by using the opportunity to market jobs at the same time he is marketing this week's Brunch!

Updated: Feb 21, 2022

Your One-Stop-Shop for all of your Home Services Needs!

Jessie and Charmaine Hardy stand on the shoulders of over 100 years of mechanical and building excellence!

This should be a simple profile of one of our new tenants highlighting their services. But, our tenants have amazing stories connected to them. I have to tell this one. Bear with me, I’m about to cover 3 generations of one family of Black Business owners..

Homeowners spend a lot of time and effort keeping their homes safe and retaining or increasing its value. But, most homeowners don’t have a concise picture of what they need to do to achieve that. It’s like a shot in the dark, constantly reacting to the obvious. But, according to one of our newest tenants, Jessie Hardy, Owner of Amos Home Inspection, it doesn’t have to be that way.

It’s true, lenders who require inspections to qualify for a mortgage and some HUD Homes whose financing criteria require inspection constitute the bulk of his business, but,Hardy says, current homeowners can benefit from his services as well.

“We serve prospective home buyers and sellers, but how many homeowners are looking to get a maintenance repair list on their current home?,” Hardy asked. “A good home inspector can deliver that for you. You can get ahead of the game and know exactly what you need to do to get the most out of your home’s value,”.

Amos Home Inspection provides home inspection services to evaluate your home, but also provides safety related inspections. “We do Radon Air Testing, Well Water Quality, and we detect wood destroying Insects,” Hardy said. “What sets us aside from others is that our service is honest, open, clear and concise. Indeed, Amos Home Inspection is accredited by the Better Business Bureau with an A rating.

And, the company is serving as an umbrella organization for two other businesses, the first of which brings clients full-circle as homeowners. “Hardy’s Home Solutions provides services for all your home needs. We repair major appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, stoves, and washer and dryers. Our technicians also are skilled in all the trades,” Hardy said. So, if Hardy identifies issues that detract from your home’s value or if safety is a concern, he can handle it all in-house.

You would think the home services Hardy provides through his businesses reflect his strongest skill-set. It’s true. He’s a liscensed Real Estate agent, HVAC and Radon testing certified, but, after only 3 months on campus, Hardy is stepping out on his true passion–music, Gospel music. And, he is looking to scale up his business at Swift.

“Our newest initiative is near and dear to me. We are currently rolling out phase 1 in providing piano lessons and registration is currently open. The idea is to ultimately become a music school that offers various after school programs,” Hardy said.

Roots: Bonafide Honest, Open and Concise Service

Now, this is where this profile could end. But, have you noticed? The business is not called Hardy Home Inspection Services and I’ve got to tell you why. Hardy explained that one man; a man who, when mentioned, caused him to straighten up in his seat, was all that he needed as an example to be a success. An involuntary smile cracked across his face as he dove deep into memory.

The man, he said, was Amos Washington, Jr.—his grandfather. “Had it not been for him, I would not be where I am today. He equipped me with all of my skills,” he said. Born in Sandy Bottom, AL, a section of Birmingham, Washington acquired his skills from his father, handed down for generations. As the eldest of “those Washington boys” as they were called, his father, Amos Washington, Sr., selected him to carry on the family trades. They were widely sought out in their area to build homes, perform mechanical work and finish carpentry.

His skill level flies in the face of the common held belief that Southern Blacks were unskilled workers suitable only for field work. In fact, a tradition of highly skilled tradesmen go as far back as far as slavery. Both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were world famous for what their slaves had accomplished.

But, Amos Washington, Jr’s. story poses a question. If he didn’t have to toil in cotton fields under the choking Alabama sun as a sharecropper. If things were good for him and his family, what made him come up North?

The answer lay in something he did have in common with all Southern Blacks–Southern Whites and their “peculiar institutions”. “My grandfather's family said, ‘We gotta get him outta here. He ain’t going to be around too long if we don’t,” Hardy said. His grandfather had problems getting into trouble with “White Folk”. First of all, because he had to endure the humiliation of Jim Crow, but he did it with dignity. And, Whites could sense that energy. To add to his troubles, he lived for revelry. In other words, Whites and Blacks had him on their social radar. Shortly thereafter, Washington’s family did what everyone else who could in 1950’s Alabama did in that situation. They sent him “up North''.

He soon found himself in Hartford with $11 in his pocket seeking a new life. Quickly securing a job at Waybest Chicken and setting out to live what he thought was his best life, working hard, but partying harder. “He went through the trials of life when he got here,” Hardy said. That was until forces greater than himself were making themselves painfully aware. “When his wife had enough of that lifestyle and they separated, then divorced, that was when he got delivered,” Hardy said .

By deliverance, Hardy means deliverance with a capital D. He had changed where he lived. But, as they say, “wherever you go, there you are”. And, according to Hardy, it was the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that saved him from the lifestyle that kept him in hardship.

“When he did get saved, he remarried and all of the negative connections he made on the streets of Hartford became opportunities for his new-found ministry. He knew where he had to go with the Gospel. He ministered amongst drug dealers, prostitutes, alcoholics and drug addicts. He called them the ‘Over the Hill Gang’,” Hardy said.

Filled with the Holy Ghost, Washington began to attend Christ Church of Deliverance where he learned to be led by The Spirit in all things–all things. “He told me that The Holy Ghost said that I would be his wife soon after we met,” said Pastor Betty Lockhart, Jessie Hardy’s grandmother and current Pastor of The Church of The Most High God. “We met through The Spirit”.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies,” Proverbs 31.

In 1975, and recently married, the couple opened up a church in their Elizabeth Ave. home in Bloomfield. Armed with his street experiences, The Holy Spirit and The Word of God, Washington built the church congregation beyond his humble home’s capacity.

He had to dig deeper into the well of the skills he acquired back in Sandy Bottom. His skills were already getting him better jobs. He left Waybest for a machinist job at GM in Bristol, CT where Hardy said he impressed his bosses immediately.

“They had a problem with the way a part was engineered when they made it in the shop. They were stymied. But, my grandfather would not give up. They did not believe he could solve the problem. He prayed on it and made the newspapers for resolving it,” Hardy said.

And his wife Betty proved to be the gem Proverbs advised of. They acquired something few churches of the day had–a charter bus–and opened up the W and W (Washington and Washington) Bus company, offering custom service at an affordable price for churches and organizations in the area. Betty became the administrative and training arm of the operation and much more. She was an equal partner with Washington.

“My grandmother was the 1st Van Driver, the 1st Missionary, and the 1st Musician. She trained me and the other drivers to drive a 45 passenger bus,” Hardy said. Indeed the church’s 3 bus fleet was sort of a landmark in the neighborhood back in the 1980’s and 1990’s. One of the last runs they made with the buses was to give relief to Hurricane Katrina victims down in New Orleans.

Washington acquired the former Petersen Meat Packing complex near the corners of Westland and Garden Streets into a church complex, a veritable home for his whole congregation, years before the first Mega Church popped up in the city's suburbs.

“We started in the house, but let the church acquire it and then demolished it to go with new construction,” Betty said. She soon became a familiar face down at the city’s Licenses and Inspections department overseeing every aspect of compliance.

And, when their original contractor began to cut corners, “Amos stepped in and took over the project and pushed it to completion. There was not anything he did not know about building. He maintained the buses. He did plumbing and electricity. He was gifted by God,” she said. Four years later, the stately frontage on Garden Street stood on the landscaped property, complimented by a complex of smaller structures. Jessie Hardy was born into this world formed by the protective, nurturing, and structured efforts of his grandparents. They raised him as their own and by 8 years old, Betty had trained a church organist. “I made him practice every day after school until he got really good,” she said. “I remember her telling me one day to get up in that seat and play. I was terrified. But, it all worked out,” Hardy reminisced.

Continued Patterns: Roots and A Virtuous Woman

As an 8 year old church organist, Jessie Hardy took center stage in the church as sort of a prodigy. Flourishing in the role, Hardy could hardly know the weight of the mantle his grandfather trusted him to bear. For, with all that came with his church position, Hardy was slated to receive the full legacy of Amos Washington Jr. and all his fathers had handed down to him.

Until then, the organist seat put the spotlight on him in every meeting, gathering, or service. The position commands attention in the Black Church. And, since the age of 9, a little girl named Charmaine paid Hardy supreme attention. “As you know I have been in the church since the age of 2. My wife joined the church when she was 9 years old. We are both currently active in the music department to this day. My wife is the church secretary, a youth worker and holds a host of other positions,” Hardy said.

The two grew into adulthood together and went off to college. Charmaine Hardy obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration. Jessie Hardy studied music at the University of New Haven for 2 years, then went on to drive buses, then work at the post office before his grandfather told him to “learn a trade so you can be a help, a blessing to somebody,” Hardy said.

Hardy then went on to Bristol Tech for HVAC and then on to work for various HVAC companies. Then a mixture of a life-long entrepreneurial urges and the glass ceiling he experienced working for mostly White men motivated him to follow in his grandfathers’ steps. His biggest push came from a large Home Inspection agency he went to work for. “I was told I was not articulate enough to do home inspections. They refused to train me for my license. They had me doing Radon testing for years expecting to get my license,” he said before saying the greatest insult came when they told him he had to learn patience. “I filed my business name under my grandfather’s name, Amos, while I was still working there. I didn’t want to be in a position to get laid off. I got a part time position teaching HVAC and took the leap”.

So, like his grandfathers before him, here we have Jessie Hardy, never looking back from his position as Owner of Amos Home Inspection and applying multiple skills to diversify his portfolio and potential income streams. Better yet, like his grandfathers, he has a “jewel” of a woman who is a bona fide business partner. And, in honor of his grandfathers, the couple have taken their business skills to the next level.

An Army veteran with over 11 years experience in Human Resources and achievements ranging from generating employee handbooks to mastering multiple payroll systems, Charmaine Hardy, especially, uses her skills to give the business its edge. “She is my business partner and she currently educates and trains our staff while holding a full time job as an educator in Windsor,” Hardy said.

Hardy says, with Charmaine’s leadership, that A-Rating from the Better Business Bureau will not drop. “Our goal is to create a culture in which our staff can thrive and grow. We are focused on engaging and building lasting relationships with our customers through events where we volunteer, or by participating in educational events and seminars,” Hardy said. And, if you are looking for piano lessons for your child, he’s taking applications for lessons. He expects to move into a larger office on the Swift Campus to accommodate his expansion.

So, call Jessie Hardy if you need services at your home. Because, when that Amos Home Inspection or Hardy Services truck pulls up in your driveway, over 100 years of black excellence is pulling up with him. He’s inherited a legacy that he takes seriously and is applying. And, take it from us, he’s articulate as you need him to be. His language is honesty. He is clear about the services he can provide. And, he troubleshoots the problems concisely. What more could one ask for?


We've got a warm reprieve today at 5 Corners!

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