More than 330 women (and a few good men) showed their commitment to helping young women and girls who face challenges in their life at The Village for Families & Children’s 13th annual The Girl Within Luncheon, held Dec. 6 in Hartford. Nearly $110,000 was raised from the event to enable The Village to provide life-changing support for young women and girls in the Greater Hartford area who need the guidance and inspiration to become more resilient, confident and independent.
Attendees at the luncheon heard from young women whose lives have been impacted by The Village, including Tiffany, who took the podium with confidence and conviction to tell her story. She said, in part, about the staff at The Village, “Together they created an atmosphere where residents could feel safe and grow to all that they could. The staff believed more in us than we believed in ourselves. Sometimes that is what people need. It’s what I needed.” Tiffany is now attending college with a goal of pursuing a career in forensic psychology.
Luncheon guests also heard from several professional women who have gone above and beyond to share their skills, talents and resources to help young women succeed. These included former actress Linda Carlson, who was named Woman of the Year by The Village, and Laura Schroff, New York Times bestselling author of An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny, the beautiful story of her mentoring relationship with a young boy in New York.
Linda had worked as an actress in theater, film and television from 1970 to 2003 when she left Los Angeles for northwestern Connecticut. She has written four plays, and had essays published in the New York Times magazine. But to several young women in Greater Hartford she is known for helping them realize their dreams.
According to Kim Burris, who nominated Linda for the Woman of the Year award, “Linda embodies the spirit of generosity, inspiration and motivation that are the hallmarks of the award.”
On the West coast, Linda created a scholarship fund to help young people achieve their dreams of a college education. When she came to Connecticut, she learned of the work being done by The Village. “I immediately knew that the girls served by The Village were the girls I wanted to support because they had overcome many challenges and had the discipline to succeed,” Linda said.
This past Spring, four young women received an Abbott-Carlson Scholarship and were paired with a mentor from the business, nonprofit or volunteer community. “I felt these young women could benefit from a person who would support and guide them during their college careers,” Linda said.
Kim says that Linda personally follows each girl’s progress and is invested in their success. “She provides them with emotional support and encouragement beyond the financial support. That means the world to these young women,” says Kim.
“The Woman of the Year award is given to a woman who is a strong advocate for at-risk girls and young women, who motivates and inspires young women to realize their potential, and whose efforts have a transformative effect on a young woman’s life,” says Joanne Eudy, Village board member and chair of The Girl Within Luncheon.
Other women who spoke at the luncheon were Beth Bombara, president of The Hartford’s Talcott Resolution business and vice chair of the board of directors for The Village. She underscored The Hartford’s commitment to “creating opportunities for young women and to helping set them up successfully for their futures.” She noted that The Hartford has donated more than $300,000 over the last three years to The Village for the Center for Family Life and programs to help at-risk adolescent girls (ages 11-19) achieve educational success. The Hartford was also the presenting sponsor for The Girl Within Luncheon.
Andrea Barton Reeves, president and CEO of HARC and chair of The Village board, welcomed attendees of the luncheon, reminding everyone that no matter our age, we still can connect with our own “girl within” and understand what young girls, especially those with many obstacles and life challenges, need to build their confidence and ability to succeed.
Tina Martin, weekend anchor and reporter with WFSB-TV, served as emcee. Also a recipient of many awards, Tina was named one of the “Most Powerful and Influential Women in CT” in 2012 by the National Diversity Council, and in 2010 was awarded the Jacque Minnottee National Health Reporting Fellowship from the Radio Television Digital News Foundation. She was chosen as Best Local TV Reporter by readers of Hartford Magazine in 2011, and her Tina Around Town series was honored by the CT Society of Professional Journalists in 2010. Known for her smile and warm personality, Tina is a big proponent of building self esteem among young people.
About The Village: For more than 200 years, The Village for Families & Children has been working to build a community of strong, healthy families who protect and nurture children. We fulfill this mission by providing a full range of children’s behavioral health treatment, foster care and adoption, and community support services for children and their families in the Greater Hartford region. For more information, visit www.villageforchildren.org or call 860-236-4511.