A year and a half ago, Erica Rusczyk would never have imagined that she would be standing before an audience of 400 women and men at the Hartford Marriott telling them her turbulent and potentially tragic emotional journey.
“I was at my lowest point in my life before I went to The Village,” Erica said. “No one knew if my depression was going to finally take my life. Not even my therapists, doctors, friends, family or even myself. That changed because of The Village.”
Erica said, “It’s with the support of [the staff at The Village] that I made my way out of a very dark tunnel. If you had asked me a year before if I was ever going to graduate high school, be working, or be attending college, I would have said, ‘absolutely not.’”
But, Erica was able to finish her senior year of high school with her friends, and attend all her senior activities, including prom. “And above all, graduate! It felt so nice, to walk across that stage, take my diploma, and say to myself ‘I did it!’ Despite everyone telling me I wouldn’t, I did.”
Erica is now attending college and will pursue a career in social work, so that she can “help other teens and young adults learn to believe in themselves.” She is also learning about advocacy and politics so that she can “help improve the mental health system.”
“One thing is for certain though,” says Erica told the guests at the Girl Within Luncheon. “If I had never gone to The Village and gotten the support and encouragement that I did, I would not be standing here talking to you today. The Village has helped me see the girl within myself, and has truly allowed her to blossom.”
Pictured at top:
Over 400 women and men came together at The Village’s Girl Within Luncheon on December 5 at the Hartford Marriott, raising $135,000 to support life-changing programs for at-risk girls and young women in the Greater Hartford area. Shown here, from left to right are: Joanne Eudy, event chair and vice chair of The Village Board; Erica Rusczyk, freshman at Tunxis Community College and speaker at the event; Irene O’Connor, anchor of Eyewitness News This Morning on WFSB-TV, Ch. 3 and event emcee; JoAnn H. Price, co-founder and managing partner of Fairview Capital Partners and 2014 Woman of the Year; and Galo Rodriguez, president and CEO of The Village for Families & Children.