Newington Bids Farewell to Long-time Human Services Director
NEWINGTON - Laughs, tears, and even a Town Hall staff orchestrated Gilligan’s Island theme song rendition marked a crowded farewell formal for Human Service Director Karen Futoma, who is leaving Town Hall after 32 years to take a new role with a quasi-public state agency.

       Mayor Roy Zartarian, state legislators Gary Byron and Paul Doyle, and members of the Town Council were among the audience of town staff, residents, and department heads that filled the Town Hall lobby to see Futoma off Wednesday afternoon.

       A series of speakers that included Doyle, Byron, Zartarian, and new Human Services Director Carol Labrecque-formerly a department coordinator-recounted fond memories of working with Futoma, while heaping praise on the Department veteran.

       “When I think of Karen, I think of hoarding,” Doyle said to chuckles from the audience.

       He was only partially joking-Futoma spearheaded an effort to bring the issue to the state’s attention, pushing for the newly formed task force expected to go to work soon. The effort actually originated here in Newington, where Futoma began mobilizing staff around the matter.

       “I’m sad to see her leave Newington, but goodness knows, we need help at the state,” Doyle said.

       Labrecque’s comments were the most emotional, with Futoma’s longtime colleague shedding some tears as she read her goodbye statement.

       “Karen is an outstanding force in the field, as can be seen by her unending enthusiasm to make Newington a great town,” she said.

       Staffers described her departure as “bitter sweet”-a sentiment echoed by Futoma herself, who said that while Newington Human Services was “the best job in the world”, the opportunity with the agency “just spoke to” her.

       She took the position in April.

       “It’s been an emotional 60 days,” Futoma said. “It gave me way too much time to review what I’m leaving.”

       Futoma began her career as a social worker, before moving up to Department Coordinator, and then Director. During that time she garnered the nickname “Skipper”, after the iconic “Gilligan’s Island” character.

       To honor that legacy, Department staffers presented her with a rendition of the theme song-complete with guitar work from Youth Worker Rick Huggard.

       “I had no idea they were doing that,” Futoma said after the ceremony. “They kept it a secret. I work with some of the most amazing people.”