Period Poverty Takes Center Stage at Village Fundraiser Benefiting Local Women and Girls

Girl Within event raises one of its largest-ever totals for women affected by trauma

December 1, 2023

The Village’s largest annual fundraiser—Girl Within—returned on Friday to provide critical support to women and girls in Greater Hartford who have been affected by trauma and other mental health challenges, raising more than $200,000 to support a range of services that help them to heal and build resilience, confidence and independence.

Nearly 500 guests attended, including U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, to hear inspiring stories from Village clients who have overcome adversities, as well as this year’s honorees, both of whom have made extensive efforts to alleviate period poverty on a national and local scale.

The Village honored Jessica Zachs, Chair and CEO of Dignity Grows, as the 2023 Girl Within Woman of the Year in honor of her advocacy and philanthropic endeavors that uplift and empower women, girls and those who cannot always find their own voice.

As the leader of the local nonprofit with a national impact, Zachs works to ensure gender, health and economic equity for those who are unable to afford or access monthly comprehensive and menstrual hygiene products, all of which are basic human needs. Her work has inspired the creation of 59 additional chapters of Dignity Grows in 27 states, in addition to the flagship chapter in Hartford.

“At the heart of this event is the knowledge that the experiences of our early lives shape us in long-lasting ways. That’s why we are honored to recognize Jessica as our 2023 Girl Within Woman of the Year for her extraordinary leadership and advocacy for women, girls and all people in need, which has created a ripple effect that’s inspired others and helped people across our community and the country,” said Village President and CEO Galo Rodriguez.

Watch NBC CT video coverage below or click here to read more.

Rocky Hill High School senior Grace DiTunno was named 2023 Young Woman of the Year in recognition of her work in various leadership positions in her community. DiTunno serves as president of Girl Up, an international student club through which she annually raises over 1,500 period products for her town. She also created a panel for her peers to gain career insights from an inspiring, diverse group of women, and as captain of her cross country and track teams she led a dialogue for her teammates about eating disorders and healthy eating, a widespread issue in running sports.

Past honorees of the Woman of the Year award include social justice advocates, environmental activists, philanthropists, non-profit and business leaders, actors and volunteers, including Jennifer Steadman, Paula S. Gilberto, Dr. Estela López, Linda Carlson Hart and others.

Proceeds from Girl Within support a range of services at The Village that help women and girls to heal and build resilience, confidence and independence. Now in its twenty-third year, Girl Within has raised more than $1.6 million since its inception.

The Hartford was the presenting sponsor for the event for the eleventh consecutive year.

Other top sponsors included gold sponsor Fairview Capital; silver sponsors All Waste Inc., Arbella Insurance Foundation, Ares Management, Cigna, Beth and Rick Costello, Zachs Family Foundation, Liberty Bank, Max Cares Foundation and OneDigital; bronze sponsors Chubb, CohnReznick, Goya Foods, Hartford Hospital at Hartford Healthcare, KPMG LLP, Risk Strategies, Robinson & Cole, LLP, Rossmore Private Capital, Smith Brothers Insurance, and Webster Bank; and patron sponsors The Aegis Group at Morgan Stanley, CLA; Connecticut Children’s, Connecticut Health Foundation, Ernst & Young, David & Jan Klein, KeyBank and Morris Group.

To learn more about the event and its impact visit

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