Fairfield County Recognized at State-Wide Dinner

Three local leaders in Fairfield County were recognized Thursday by the Partnership for Strong Communities for their tireless efforts in addressing and raising awareness to end homelessness. Kathy Hunter (Deputy Director of Supportive Housing Works), Carmen Colon, (Vice-President of the Bridgeport YMCA) and Carla Miklos (Executive Director of Operation Hope) were awarded the Diane Randall Leadership Award by the state-wide policy and advocacy organization at their annual Reaching Home Celebration dinner in Cromwell.

The three were noted for their 60-plus combined years of service and advocacy for people in crisis and in developing innovative solutions to counter homelessness. Examples of successes included the creation of a Community Development Financial Institution for people with disabilities, restructuring the federal HOME program to advance the development of supportive housing projects, and providing oversight in retooling Fairfield County’s crisis response system by prioritizing the most vulnerable and restructuring the service delivery staff. Also highlighted was their collective work in launching the Greater Bridgeport Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness, spearheading a multi-agency housing first collaborative, and providing leadership for Opening Doors Fairfield County.

The Reaching Home dinner celebrates the statewide campaign to end homelessness and its collective successes. Recognition was also given to housing tenants who have made significant contributions to their community through The Carol Walter Supportive Housing Tenant Award. Awardees this year included Willie Thomas Miller, a resident in Bridgeport who has overcome major challenges and currently volunteers for the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery serving as a role model while working to becoming a physical therapist.

Willie Thomas Miller, proudly holding his Carol Walter Supportive Housing Tenant Award.

Willie Thomas Miller, proudly holding his Carol Walter Supportive Housing Tenant Award.

Ben Vereen, an accomplished entertainer who has appeared on stage, screen and TV, was the guest speaker at the Reaching Home Dinner. Vereen’s strong sense of social consciousness has taken him around the world lecturing on topics such as overcoming adversity.

Left to Right: Carla Miklos (Executive Director, Operation Hope), Carmen Colon (Vice President, Bridgeport Y's), Tony Award-winning entertainer Ben Vereen, Kathy Hunter (Deputy Director, Supportive Housing Works), and State Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey (Fairfield).

Left to Right: Carla Miklos (Executive Director, Operation Hope), Carmen Colon (Vice President, Bridgeport Y's), Tony Award-winning entertainer Ben Vereen, Kathy Hunter (Deputy Director, Supportive Housing Works), and State Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey (Fairfield).

Photos courtesy Partnership for Strong Communities and Gary Lewis Photography.