Village Annual “Girl Within” Event Raises More Than $150,000 To Empower Women and Girls

December 3, 2021

The Village for Families & Children hosted a dynamic celebration today to honor the resilience of women and girls and raise money to support life-changing services.

The Village’s largest fundraiser of the year, the 2021 Virtual Girl Within Event raised more than $150,000 to support Village programs that help women and girls in Greater Hartford who have been affected by trauma to heal and become resilient, confident and independent. Now in its twenty-first year, the event has raised more than $1.6 million since its inception.

The event featured powerful stories from Village clients who experienced trauma and significant challenges but were able to find their inner resilience with The Village’s support. Village President and CEO Galo Rodriguez, Village Medical Director Dr. Laine Taylor, Village Board Member and event emcee Jeanmarie Cooper, and The Hartford Financial Services CFO and Village Board Member Beth Costello also shared remarks.

“This event, at its best, is about connection,” Rodriguez said. “We want to connect Village supporters with the people we help to see and feel what it’s like to transform someone’s life, to make the pain go away and turn it into love, acceptance and growth.”

The Village named Paula S. Gilberto, President and CEO of United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, as the 2021 Girl Within Woman of the Year in honor of her decades-long service to the community, including efforts to advance grade-level reading, student achievement, and financial security for students and families.

Past honorees of this award include social justice advocates, environmental activists, philanthropists, non-profit and business leaders, actors and volunteers, including Racquel L. Santana, Dr. Estela López, Linda Carlson Hart, and others.

The Village also named Saher Ashraf, a first-year college student, the 2021 Girl Within Young Woman of the Year in honor of her work as a volunteer youth group leader with the Vernon ROCKS Coalition – an affiliate of The Village focused on youth substance use prevention efforts across Vernon and Manchester, Connecticut.

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

Other top sponsors included gold sponsor Cigna; silver sponsors All Waste, Arbella Insurance Foundation, Bank of America, Fairview Capital Partners, KeyBank, Max Cares Foundation, and Stanley Black & Decker; bronze sponsors Aspen, CohnReznick, Eastern Connecticut State University, Jean & Ed Cowles, Future Benefits, Gowrie Group, Hartford Hospital at Hartford HealthCare, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, KPMG LLP, Liberty Bank, Robinson+Cole, Rossmore, Smith Brothers Insurance, and Webster Bank; and patron sponsors Connecticut Health Foundation and The Toczydlowski Family.

To learn more about the event, make a contribution, or watch the full program, visit

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