Inspiration Abounds at Girl Within Luncheon


We are so grateful to everyone who attended our Girl Within Luncheon (nearly 500 in all) and to our sponsors (especially our presenting sponsor, The Hartford). Because of their generosity, we raised over $170,000 to support The Village’s life-changing programs for at-risk girls and young women in the Greater Hartford area.

Alana (second from left) is pictured with Melanie Michaud, who was her clinician at Alison Gill Lodge, Dr. Jennifer Lusa, who was the director of the group home, and her fiancé, Miroslaw Panek.

Attendees at the luncheon heard from Alana Farnsworth who, after several stays in hospitals, foster homes and other residential facilities, finally began the path to hope and healing while at Alison Gill Lodge, a group home for girls run by The Village. Alana relayed her story with poise and confidence, telling the audience of her current successes and future dreams. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Saint Joseph, Alana plans to attend law school and fight for socially just policies and laws at the federal level.

“So here I am now,” Alana said, “Feeling so empowered standing up in front of a crowd of 500 people sharing my story. Now, I am a grown woman, an educated one, and I am so much more than my past.”

Francine Christiansen, pictured with her daughter and husband, was named 2017 Woman of the Year by The Village. Francine has been a dynamic and effective nonprofit leader and community volunteer in Greater Hartford for over 30 years, focusing on helping young, at-risk women take charge of their lives. She was active with the Junior League of Hartford and its Friends of the Family – a teen parent resource program that later became part of The Village, and chaired The Village Board of Directors, among many other volunteer and philanthropic activities.

“It is all of us who in big and small ways are helping to make real change happen,” Francine told the audience.

Luncheon guests were also moved by the incredible story of Regina Louise, who was unwanted at birth and tossed around to over 30 foster and group homes and other facilities. She took us along her personal journey from being abused and discounted to  being adopted by the one woman who she trusted and loved along the way. She also demonstrated her own strength and resilience as she has become an successful author (of a best-selling memoir, Somebody’s Someone, which is in development as a movie with Lifetime television), and a national spokesperson for shifting the narrative of marginalized children’s lives, speaking out for children who have no voice.


Pictured: Galo Rodriguez, president and CEO of The Village; Alana Farnsworth, guest speaker; Jeanmarie Cooper, member of The Village’s Board and chair of the event; Regina Louise, author and keynote speaker; Irene O’Connor, anchor of Eyewitness News This Morning on WFSB-TV, Ch. 3 and event emcee; Francine Christiansen, 2017 Woman of the Year; and Sarah Morin from The Hartford, presenting sponsor.

Beth Bombara, chief financial officer for The Hartford, and member of The Village board of directors, also spoke, underscoring The Hartford’s commitment to the Asylum Hill neighborhood in Hartford. This includes support of The Village’s Community Life Skills for Girls program, which helps at-risk adolescent girls by providing them with the guidance they need to achieve educational success and build critical social networks.

Irene O’Connor, weekday anchor of Eyewitness News This Morning on WFSB-TV, Ch. 3, served as emcee.
“It is wonderful to be in a room filled with people who are committed to helping young girls and women become strong, confident and healthy,” said Galo Rodriguez, president and CEO of The Village. “I wish all of the girls we serve could feel your love and support. It would mean so much to them – as it does to me.”

Galo also thanked the Luncheon Committee, led by long-time Village Board member Jeanmarie Cooper, for their incredible commitment and many hours of hard work in planning this event.

View more photos from the event >


The Hartford





Fairview Capital
: All Waste, Inc., Cigna, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Eastern Connecticut State University, Travelers
Bronze: Hartford Hospital at Hartford Healthcare, Robinson & Cole LLP, United Technologies Corporation, Webster Bank, N.A.
Print Sponsor: KÔTA

For sponsorship opportunities or to become a table captain in 2018, please contact Matt Southward,, 860-236-4511 x3358.