Regina Barall, Executive Director of Circle of Life – Arts for All, Inc.
Circle of Life is the idea and project of one woman: Reggie Barall. If you ask Reggie, she will look you straight in the eye and tell you “I had no choice. It is my destiny. I wanted to give back to the community. I wanted to create a safe haven for children of all ethnic backgrounds. I wanted to include special needs children because I have a special needs son…
I would have been lost without a safe place to discover what I could become in life. I wanted to pass on to the new generation what I have learned over the years. The arts transformed a very shy girl into an outgoing woman who enjoys life and looks forward to what life has to offer each day. We never stop growing if you have a positive attitude and embrace the beauty and opportunities around you.
Reggie was born in the depression years. There were six children. Four were born in Canada and Reggie and her brother Arthur were born on Bond Street in the South End of Hartford, Connecticut. At age 10, the family decided to move to Lawrence Street in Hartford, known as Frog Hollow, to be near her married sister who was expecting a child. Reggie was devastated. She had to leave her school, her friends and her security blanket. She now attended the progressive Burns School, but missed her friends and life at her old school.
Fortunately, her new best friend, Gloria, realized how shy and frightened she was. Gloria took Reggie to The Michelle House on Park Street. Slowly Reggie began to discover the Arts. She discovered music and dance. She joined a singing group, began writing articles for the school newspaper, wanted to learn how to dance and discovered she liked to act and perform.
In 1965, after raising a family, she began her long exploration of finding her self-identity. She began her life long pursuit of education. Reggie received a Bachelor of Arts, Summa Cum Laude and Master of Arts in literature, Writing Communication and Drama at the University of Hartford. She is a member of Alpha Thi Honorary Society. Reggie holds Connecticut State Certification to teach in grades 9-12. In 1975, she was adjunct professor of Writing and was instrumental in developing the Learning Lab for minority students at the University of Hartford. She worked successfully with a large diversity of students because she understood what it meant to be poor.
Reggie found her niche developing programs for the town of East Hartford after being appointed to the Fine Arts Commission in 1976. Her next career challenge was to become Major Gifts Director for the Salvation Army for Connecticut and Rhode Island. This program, created and run by Reggie, helped the Salvation Army to continue running other programs important to the community and kept many of their shelters open and in operation.
Upon retiring in the summer of 2002, she decided to put into action everything she had learned. The Producing Guild, a well known drama company, was vacating its space in the East Hartford Community Cultural Center. No time was wasted in Reggie exploring the possibility of forming a non-profit dance and art center. The mayor of East Hartford gave her the go ahead. Family and friends helped to empty the space and build the studio, and Circle of Life opened for its first class in September of 2002. The rest is history.
Each year programs are added and molded to meet the needs of those Reggie serves.
Judge Herbert Barall, Treasurer of Circle of Life – Arts for All, Inc.
Helping Reggie in her dream and mission is her husband, Judge Herbert Barall.
Judge Barall is a Superior Court Judge Trial Referee. He has served as Chief Administrative Judge for Juvenile Court for the State of Connecticut. He was presiding Judge of Major Criminal Matters in Hartford, presiding Judge for the Civil Division in Hartford, and presiding Judge of the family court in Hartford.
Judge Barall holds a Doctor of Laws Cum Laude from Harvard Law School and a Bachelor of Science from New York University. Herb was a member of Tau Alpha Omega Honorary Fraternity. Herb attended East Hartford High School where he was a member of the National Honor Society and the East Hartford Basketball Team.