Trumbull's Kennedy Center renames itself Kennedy Collective

TRUMBULL — The Kennedy Center has changed its name to the Kennedy Collective, hoping to better reflect its community-based approach to providing opportunities to people with disabilities. 

"A center is a place," said Rick Sebastian, Kennedy Collective president and CEO. "We're more than just a place."

The name change was announced in a press conference Thursday morning, at its 2440 Reservoir Ave. headquarters. Kennedy service staff and clients, as well as local leaders, all gathered for the event. Sebastian said changing the branding to the Kennedy Collective is product of how the program has evolved over time.

"We're a part of the broader community," he said. "We're part of the national community."

What is now the Kennedy Collective was founded in 1951 with the goal of supporting and empowering people with disabilities.

It was the brainchild of Evelyn Kennedy, the mother of a young boy with intellectual disabilities, who was encouraged to institutionalize him. Instead, she and a group of other parents worked together to build a support system for children with disabilities. Today, the program supports roughly 2,000 individuals with disabilities a year and provides a variety of housing, social and employment services. 

Sebastian said the program has 35 sites in Fairfield and New Haven counties, and assists people throughout the state and even in parts of New York. Thus, he said, it's more than just a "center" — it's a whole network of collaboration and support.

Congressman Jim Himes, D-Conn., echoed those thoughts when he spoke at Thursday's event. "A center is a place that you go to," he said. "A collective is all of us working together."

Others who spoke at the press conference included state Sen. Tony Hwang. He praised Sebastian and others at Kennedy for their work helping others to meet their fullest potential.

"You are creating opportunities for many of those with intellectual disabilities to thrive," he said.

In addition, many local leaders submitted proclamations praising the name change, including Trumbull First Selectman Vicki Tesoro. Tesoro couldn't attend, but did issue a proclamation declaring Oct. 6 "Kennedy Collective Day" in Trumbull.

In addition to the new name, Sebastian also unveiled Kennedy's new logo,  an asymmetrical star with a hidden letter K, and a new sign. The sign had been covered with a tarp, and there was a slight hiccup when the workers charged with removing the tarp initially didn't hear Sebastian's order to unveil the sign.

"We didn't rehearse this," Sebastian quipped. "This is live TV."

For more about the Kennedy Collective, visit their new website,