Fairfield student receives Youth Volunteer of the Year Award

No matter what, all of us face daily challenges. But in overcoming challenges, new opportunities for growth are created.

This spirit of renewed optimism was evident during The Kennedy Center’s 64th Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting at the Holiday Inn in Bridgeport. This year’s theme, “Parents and Friends Embracing the Challenge,” celebrated the many triumphs of Kennedy Center clients who have overcome their disabilities.

Fairfield resident Colin Flynn received the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award and has volunteered at The Kennedy Center for three and one-half years. He began volunteering in the Lighthouse Program at the Black Rock School site, where The Kennedy Center is specially contracted to work with up to eight children with special needs who are at risk of failure, suspension or expulsion. The Kennedy Center staff and volunteers provide these students with strategies to help them be successful in the Lighthouse Afterschool Program.

Though this recipient had minimal experience working with children with disabilities such as Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and intellectual disabilities, he quickly developed a rapport with the students, staff and peers as a great role model.

When students are challenged with homework or are trying an activity for the first time, he encourages them to try again. He also successfully engages the students with fun activities.

Jocelyn Maminta, Channel 8 News medical reporter was the inspirational keynote speaker and referenced everyone in the audience as her heroes. A distinguished broadcast journalist of 20 years, she thrives on her work as a philanthropist and entrepreneur. She is co-founder of Caroline’s Room, a safe haven for families coping with the challenges and uncertainties surrounding the birth of a premature baby. There are Caroline’s Rooms in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Texas and Virginia.

For her outstanding work, she was recognized as the 2015 winner of The Kennedy Center Vision Award. This prestigious award is given to an individual who has the vision to elevate the human consciousness to believe in the potential of all people.

The event also recognized area employers who have hired clients and celebrated the achievements of people with disabilities who have accomplished so much in the community and workplace. Co-chairs of the Annual Meeting were Rachelle Mitchell of Milford and Mary Brown of Bridgeport.

Other award winners announced that evening included: Kelvin Austin of Bridgeport, Supported Employee of the Year; Luis Serrano of Bridgeport, the James Rebeta Client Achievement Award; Vitec Videocom of Shelton, Competitive Employer of the Year; Colin Flynn of Fairfield, Youth Volunteer of the Year; Stuart Walls of Milford, Volunteer of the Year; and Vince Santilli of Trumbull, Silver Bowl Award.

The Kennedy Center is a nationally accredited, non-profit, community-based rehabilitation organization that currently serves 2,400 individuals annually. The agency actively responds to the needs of the community by offering innovative, comprehensive service options to persons with disabilities and special needs, from birth to senior years. The Kennedy Center operates 28 day support programs, 16 group homes, an industries program composed of six businesses, supported and competitive employment and job placement services, a family support and respite service, travel training, and a variety of children’s programs. Visit www.thekennedycenterinc.org for information.

Colin Flynn of Fairfield, second from left, displays the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award he received at the Kennedy Center’s 64th Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting at the Bridgeport Holiday Inn. He was presented this prestigious award by the following Kennedy Center managers and administrators: Francesca Logan, Youth Enrichment Services Coordinator, left; Jo Ann McMullan, Vice President of Development, second from right,; and, Martin D. Schwartz, President and CEO, far right.

Colin Flynn of Fairfield, second from left, displays the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award he received at the Kennedy Center’s 64th Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting at the Bridgeport Holiday Inn. He was presented this prestigious award by the following Kennedy Center managers and administrators: Francesca Logan, Youth Enrichment Services Coordinator, left; Jo Ann McMullan, Vice President of Development, second from right,; and, Martin D. Schwartz, President and CEO, far right.

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