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10 receive Kennedy Center awards

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From left, Patrick Lapera, Nancy Lapera and Martin D. Schwartz.

The Kennedy Center, based in Trumbull, celebrated “Empowerment: The Power of Your Voice” during its awards dinner and annual meeting at the Holiday Inn in Bridgeport. For more than 66 years, the organization has been empowering individuals with disabilities to lead more productive lives. The nonprofit serves about 2,000 clients each year.

Gian-Carl Casa, president and CEO of the Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance, was the keynote speaker. He presented an overview of how nonprofits benefit society through cost-effective programs and services.

The Corporate VIP Award was presented to Pullman & Comley LLC for its pro bono support of the center, and was accepted by Nancy Lapera. for the law firm 

The Evelyn Kennedy Silver Bowl Award went to Robert D. Chessin of Fairfield for serving the center for more than 35 years. 

Electri-Cable Assemblies of Shelton was named Supported Employer of the Year for welcoming the center’s clients. 

The Bridgeport Bluefish received the Competitive Employer of the Year Award. 

Shaileen Ramirez of Bridgeport was recognized as the Supported Employee of the Year.

Michael Lombardo of Trumbull won the Competitive Employee of the Year Award after completing a program at the center and maintaining restaurant employment for four years. 

Vera Gjidoda of Ansonia received the James Rebeta Client Achievement for regaining a level of independence after sustaining a brain injury decades ago.

The Bob Brown Volunteer of the Year Award went to Sandye Mann of Fairfield for providing pet therapy to center clients with the help of Bosun, her chocolate Labrador Retriever.

The Youth Volunteer of the Year Award recipient was Brendan Flynn of Fairfield who works with children in the Autism Project and Lighthouse After-School Program.

Alan White of Fairfield received the Community Service Award for hiring center clients to work for the town of Trumbull and securing contracts for The Kennedy Center’s scanning and cleaning businesses. 

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