Thank you to those who participated in the virtual Reaching Home Awards on
Thursday, September 10th, 2020
We appreciate your support and hope to see you next summer!
Each year, Partnership for Strong Communities (PSC) invites people to come together to celebrate, and to present the prestigious Reaching Home Awards (RHA). The awards are presented to individuals and groups that have demonstrated exceptional commitment to preventing and ending homelessness in Connecticut. This year's virtual RHA was held on Thursday, September 10.
We joined together over Zoom with distinguished awardees to celebrate their accomplishments and the work of so many to prevent and end homelessness in Connecticut. We also welcomed Amanda Andere from Funders Together to End Homelessness as our keynote speaker.
Although we were not be able to come together in person, we remain united. Now more than ever, we are committed to the vision that no one should experience homelessness; that everyone should have a safe, stable place to call home. While we hope to host the next Reaching Home Celebration in the summer, we know now from experience that neither pandemic nor distance are strong enough to separate us.
We are stronger together, for that we truly have reason to celebrate. Thank you to all those who participated in the RHA including our partners, speakers, award recipients, sponsors, friends, and family. The recording of the awards can be found HERE.
Wishing you all the best from the Team at PSC!
Save the date for the 16th Annual Reaching Home Celebration on June 16, 2021!
The 2020 Reaching Home Awardees
Diane Randall Leadership Award
This year, we recognize Dan Shetler, Manager of Quality Assurance at Connecticut Mental Health Center for the Diane Randall Leadership Award. This award recognizes an individual or group who demonstrates exemplary leadership in the public or private sector by promoting systems change, policies, and funding that create solutions to prevent and end homelessness. Dan has been a true visionary and pioneer in the development of the homelessness response system and project performance dashboards at CTCANDATA.org, which has led to unprecedented data transparency and accessibility. His ongoing leadership in creating a vision for how we use data has been instrumental in our effort to ensure that homelessness is rare, brief, and a one-time experience in Connecticut.
Reverend Richard Schuster Advocacy Award
Advocacy is a central part of the work to prevent and end homelessness in Connecticut. As such, Sarah Fox, Director of Advocacy and Community Impact at the CT Coalition to End Homelessness, exemplifies the values of the Reverend Richard Schuster Advocacy Award for her ongoing commitment to raising awareness about the needs of individuals, families, and youth who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming so. She has dedicated over 11 years of her life to advocate for critical housing resources. Sarah, herself, was homeless when she was a child and she uses that expertise and her training as a social worker to build strong relationships with stakeholders, remind us of the stark reality of homelessness, and emphasize the importance of empowering those with lived experience in this work.
Click HERE to read the blog about Sarah.
Carol Walter Housing Tenant Award
Housing transforms lives and gives individuals the opportunity and resources needed to thrive. Ronald Buxton has been recognized for the Carol Walter Housing Tenant Awards. This award recognizes two housing tenants who show commitment to advocacy for permanent housing solutions, exhibit exemplary leadership skills, and actively work to make their community a better place. Ronald Buxton, Residential Coordinator at South Park Inn in Hartford and Veterans Inc., was a homeless veteran of 13 years and a victim of identity theft. He was sleeping on streets, under bridges, and doubling up with others. At South Park Inn, under the guidance of Janette Aquido, he was connected with the Veterans Affairs for housing support services and was able to secure a HUD-VASH. Over the past 15 years, Ronald has been working to provide essential support services to veterans and civilians. At the Inn, he ran the Veterans Drop-in Center where he helped to counsel many individuals about housing, employment, and food resources - and even saved the life of a veteran in crisis. He now works at Veterans Inc. in New Britain, where he supervises 18 veterans and ensures that each passes their room inspection, drug and alcohol tests, and maintains good hygiene. His dedication and hard work have made the VA facility as a showcase for all other VA facilities in the state. Lastly, if you are a veteran and you are interested in learning to fish, Ronald has you covered. He runs a Take a Vet Fishing Program in his free time.
Click HERE to read the blog about Ron.
Barbara Geller Lifetime Achievement Award
We are honored to award the Barbara Geller Lifetime Achievement Award to Richard J. Porth, President and CEO at the United Way of Connecticut. This award recognizes an individual who has worked tirelessly throughout their lifetime or career to help people experiencing homelessness to find housing and support, reconnect with family and friends, and reach their full potential. Rick’s first volunteer experience was working night shift at a youth shelter, which propelled his future work around addressing anti-poverty and systemic issues and ensuring that individuals and households in need can get connected to necessary services. Throughout his 12-year tenure at the United Way of Connecticut/2-1-1, he has been a tireless advocate for strengthening and expanding the network of services and partnerships that comprise the social safety net in our state. His leadership has been integral to the successful creation of a statewide coordinated entry system that resolves housing crises. Moreover, as Executive Director of the Capitol Region Council of Governments, he worked with mayors and first selectmen of the Hartford region and the cities and towns they represent. He collaborated with business, civic, and government leaders to advocate and implement regional solutions to local challenges. An area of particular focus for Rick was promoting better access to opportunities for people living in low-income neighborhoods. He is a graduate of Yale University and holds an MPA from Pennsylvania State University.
Click HERE to read the blog about Rick.
Richard J. Porth
Amanda Misiko Andere has spent over fifteen years working in the nonprofit and public sector as a leader committed to racial and housing justice through advocacy for systemic change. Prior to joining Funders Together to End Homelessness as their CEO, she served as the CEO of Wider Opportunities for Women, a national advocacy organization. Currently, she serves as a board member of the United Philanthropy Forum and Equity in the Center. Amanda is a founding member and on the leadership team for the National Racial Equity Working Group on Homelessness and Housing. She also serves on the Leadership Council for the DC Partnership to End Homelessness. As a former Co-Chair of A Way Home America, Amanda is a co-conspirator in their work to end youth and young adult homelessness rooted in racial equity.
The Carol Walter Housing Tenant Award:2019 - Joe White and Cathy Kriss
2018 - Faith Mack & Carla Witmer
2017 - Willie Thomas Miller, Jr. & Natalie Garcia
2016 - Joseph "Gypsy" Grillo & Joseph Sicilia
2014 - Shumra Chambers & Anastasia Chamiec
2013 - Michael Rose & Ray Spur
The Diane Randall Leadership Award:2019 - Anne Foley
2018 - Middlesex County Community Care Team & Terri DiPietro
2017 - Kathy Hunter, Carla Miklos, & Carmen Colon
2016 - Frontline team to end Veterans homelessness
2015 - Adam Bovilsky & David Rich
2013 - Betsy Crum
The Reverend Richard Schuster Advocacy Award:
2019 - Leigh Duffy
2018 - Caitlin Mongillo & Justin Williams
2017 - Paula Crombie
2016 - Lydia Brewster
2014 - Helen Lavin
2013 - Dave Martineau
The Barbara Geller Career Achievement Award:2018 - Sharon L. Castelli
2017 - Allison Cunningham
2016 - Kellyann Day
2015 - Barbara Geller