Laura Soll-Broxterman has been involved with volunteer work her entire life.
Her dedication to causes that serve the greater good was established as a young girl when her father ran for Congress in the early 1960s.
That dedication and involvement continued to develop after graduating from Northwestern University when she started working for non-profits in Chicago (where she met her husband, former Windsor Town Councilman and current Windsor High football coach Paul Broxterman), and it flourishes today with her involvement in causes that range from recognizing veterans to working with a summer camp for kids in need.
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone every day with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
Soll-Broxterman has seemingly done it all. The list of organizations she has helped over the years reads like a who's who of Hartford County.
"I went into [the public relations] business about 30 years ago, and ever since that time ... I always think it's important for everyone, if you have skills to offer to others, that you use them for the good," she says.
As the owner of her own public relations firm, Laura Soll Public Relations, LLC, the Windsor resident currently represents a list of clients that includes companies like Cirque du Soleil and the Greater Hartford Convention & Visitors Bureau. But just as she preaches, her public relations skills go far beyond serving her clients.
Over the years, she has done work for the Greater Hartford Arts Council, created Bloomfield's International Drum Festival, serves on the board of the Connecticut Veterans Memorial organization, is heavily involved in Windsor's Congregation Beth Ahm, a synagogue that welcomes interfaith families, and more.
In 2003, Laura and Paul Broxterman were honored with a Bridge Builders Award by the Windsor Human Relations Commission for their work in the community.
Windsor Patch recently spoke with Laura about the work she's done in the community and what inspires her to give back:
WP: You've had a hand in so many different causes and organizations over the years. What has inspired you to give back?
LS: I was raised in a family that really felt that our purpose on earth was to help other people. There is a Jewish term called "Tzedakah" — it means to do what is right and what is just, and to leave the earth in a better place than when you found it...
I also think it's really important to mentor young people, especially young women, because I grew up in a time where there weren't as many opportunities for young women. I think it's really important to help give support to anyone whenever I can.
WP: Are there certain causes you've been involved in that you hold dear to your heart?
LS: The Connecticut Veterans Parade was very important to me because when we created it, in I think 1980, there hadn't been any recognition for veterans, no parade, in more than a decade. (It's purpose) was two fold: one was to thank people who gave their lives for our country, but also to educate the public about the value of these individuals and their service.
Channel 3 Kids Camp is hugely important to me. It started as a camp for only Hartford inner-city children, and now it has grown into a statewide program. Next year we are adding facilities to serve kids with special needs.
Over the years, I've volunteered for tons of stuff. I volunteered for stuff with (President Bill) Clinton, and I ended up driving George Stephanopolis around.
WP: How did that come about?
LS: This is kind of a funny thing: When the presidential debate was in Hartford... I called and said, "What can I do to help?" It started out making posters and it ended up driving around his top consultant because no one else wanted to do it, and I said I would.
I really do believe that all you need to do, if you want to do something, is just step forward and volunteer.
WP: As a public relations and community outreach professional, why would you say it's important for a company or organization to have a positive presence in the community?
LS: Well, what I do is help my clients get their message out to the audience that is important to them. In some cases that is the community... It goes back to using what I know to help my clients communicate to the people that they want to reach.
That's what I do for a living, so in doing this community relations stuff, I'm the person that has the media skills, but I'm also the person that ... will say "give me the worst job you can do. I can do it for you ..." So when I volunteer for someone, I just say give me the job nobody else wants to do and I'll do it.
WP: What do you enjoy about the work you do?
LS: I love the fact that my job is never the same two days in a row. I've been very blessed. One day I might be typing all day, the next day I might be writing a television spot. The next day I might be out hosting an event. I can do all the things I love: I can do the work with reporters; I can still run an event, and on my terms because I've had my own firm for 15 years; and I can choose my own clients.
That's really important. If there's an organization that really needs help communicating with the public, I can choose to help them. And if there's another one that I really don't want to work for because I don't believe in their message, I can say "No, thank you."
WP: What made you start your own firm?
LS: It's really funny. You know I worked for Channel 3, I worked for Travelers, I was loaned out to a governor's commission... Then I worked for a small firm and I learned a lot. I was there for nine years, and, very candidly, what happened was other professionals occasionally would call and say, "Hey, I want to pick your brain. I'm thinking of leaving my job... What should I do?" And I'd give them all this advice about "You can do anything. You can do anything. You can do anything." And I remember one day during lunch saying, "You know what Laura? You can do anything."
WP: When I speak to people about you, the one thing that I hear over and over again is that you're always smiling. No matter what's going on, no matter how busy you are, you always welcome people with a big smile. It's not an easy thing to do, so what's your secret?
LS: It's an adventure. I look at everything I do like it's another project. There are times when I don't (feel enthusiastic) and the I say "This will be fun. It's another adventure." Every thing is another opportunity. I also really like people.
WP: You've lived in Windsor for 30 years, and it's obvious Windsor is important to you. Can you tell me exactly what Windsor means to you?
LS: For me it's really always been a model of the rest of the world. The reason I moved to Windsor was in the early '80's there were, and still are, many, many civic organizations. [The town] was small enough where you could step in and get involved and shape things. And it really is a model of the rest of the world. It's like the United Nations — it sounds trite, but [it's true].
Most of my professional business is in Hartford so I also love the fact that when I go to the supermarket I can see five people I know. It really is home. I love that about Windsor.