Alliance for Community Empowerment held their Annual Meeting on Wednesday, May 25th, 2022 at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, their neighbor on Park Ave in Bridgeport. Alliance Staff & Community Partners reflected on last year’s successes and recognized the importance of building a community together.
Lamond Daniels, Alliance Board of Directors Secretary, and Chief of Community Services for the City of Norwalk served as emcee. He celebrated the 58th year of Alliance for Community Empowerment and honored Dr. Monette Ferguson’s unwavering leadership. A moment of silence was then held in honor of the victims of the recent Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, TX tragedies.
This year’s Keynote Speaker, Dr. Dwayne Smith, CEO of Housatonic Community College (HCC), gave a moving speech about the importance of education and individualism. He talked about the demographics of this year’s HCC graduates, many of whom were the firsts in their family to go to college and they were only able to attend due to financial aid.
Dr. Smith also shared his family’s story. Many of whom were slaves in the US South before the Civil War, and how his brother was the first in the family since then to graduate college. The Smith family now has 10 degrees between them and includes a doctor, lawyer, and college president.
“If I can do it, guess what, you all can too,” explained Dr. Smith to the recent high school graduates in the crowd. “When I get discouraged, I think about my elders and what they went through to bring me here… You have the love and support to do anything.”
Additional comments about Alliance for Community Empowerment’s 2021 achievements were included live and in person by Mayor Joe Ganim and as videos from Senator Chris Murphy, Congressman Jim Himes, and Department of Social Services Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford, MD, MPH.
Alliance’s Annual Meeting recognized the positive impact the organization and its employees have achieved over the past year and shared the spotlight with community partners. This year four individuals were honored for their contributions.
This year’s Community Awardees were Liz Golden, Emergency Response Team Member at Norwalk Health Department, Rev. Nancy Kingwood, President & Executive Director of GBAPP Inc., Mollie Melbourne, President & CEO of Southwest Community Health Center, and Alex Ramos, President & Executive Director of Square Up for Others. These four individuals are the embodiment of Alliance’s Mission of ‘Serving the Underserved,’ and although don’t do their jobs for recognition, they definitely deserve it.
Without these individuals and the organizations they represent Alliance would not be able to help as many people as they do. These relationships are important at Alliance because partners help inform the public of the resources available through Alliance. Also, a special presentation revealed the new name of the next Stratford Early Learning Center. Earlier this year, it was announced that Alliance had to find a new location for the South End. Dr. Ferguson honored the woman who once cared for her when she was a child by naming the new center the Alterine Johnson Early Learning Center. Alterine Johnson, loved by students she cared for the last 47 years was shocked and pleasantly surprised by the honor.
Another tradition for Alliance Annual Meetings is the presenting of scholarships to local high school graduates going to college. This year 25 students were selected to receive $1,000 each towards their college tuition. As students were called up on stage to receive their checks from Dr. Ferguson and Sharon Skyers-Jenkins, Alliance Board of Directors Chairperson, they also shared what college they were accepted to and their desired major. Although, it’s probably more accurate to say majors as most of these young adults had two or three disciplines they wanted to study, some even looking to become nurses or doctors.
Overall, the message about the importance of community and education carried through the whole event and were evident in the event’s theme, Facing the Future Together.