Senan Gorman picked up a new hobby in March at the beginning of the pandemic -- carving tikis in his Farmington backyard to stay busy.
“So I never really picked up a chainsaw before,” Gorman said.
The graphic designer caught on quickly and started selling the tikis to raise money for healthcare workers.
“Been carving not only tikis but expanding out into different things like owls and horses,” said Gorman. “It’s been an evolution.”
His backyard is now a workshop for the Tiki Task Force, which has grown to include students at Farmington High School. Like Gorman’s skill set, the mission has also evolved.
“This summer our Farmington High School athletic director suddenly passed,” Gorman said.
“It’s just a huge hole that’s never going to be filled in our Farmington community,” said senior Albi Simeone.
Jack Phelan, who also coached basketball at the University of Hartford from 1981-1992, rarely missed a game during his 17-years as Farmington’s athletic director.
“It was hard to actually realize how he’s not going to be seen again,” said sophomore Gavin Diver.
“Coach Phelan was always the one never losing hope on our team, always saying 'let’s go boys, we can come back boys, we got this,'” Simeone said.
Phelan’s kind and encouraging spirit has rubbed off on the students at Farmington High School. They organized a raffle of a special Farmington tiki with 100% of the money benefitting the Jack Phelan memorial scholarship fund.
“Us trying to help other people get their best selves out with the Tiki Task Force is great and it really shows his personality in this,” said Diver.
Each student has taken on a role to make it all possible. They are proud to be a part of something positive in what has been a difficult year, even before Phelan’s passing.
“This kind of added on top of everything but the raffle and everything really brought together the community,” said sophomore Christian Norwood.
“It’s a huge honor to be part of something like this to honor his legacy and his memory,” said Simeone.
“Participating in this has been a really great way to honor his legacy and kind of prolong it for the considerable future,” added senior John Guerrera.
“It’s very humbling to give back to our community that has supported us for so long,” said Gorman.