6th Annual American Dream Awards Gala Dinner to Honor Members of Danbury's Immigrant Community

Ten Local Students are in Running for Five $2.000 Scholarships

The New American Dream Foundation Inc. (TNADF), a 501(c)(3) organization, will host its 6th Annual American Dream Awards Gala on Saturday, September 21st, 2019 at 6:00 PM at the Amber Room Colonnade in Danbury.

The event features a three-course dinner, dancing, live entertainment and the inspirational American Dream Awards ceremony.

The award ceremony features three categories: the American Dream Lifetime Achievement, Leadership, and Student Scholarship Awards, and it recognizes community members who promote the country’s rich immigrant history, highlighting the cultural, social and economic contributions of all immigrants, and the core American values of equal opportunity, progress and freedom in the areas of education, health, and civic engagement.

According to Celia Bacelar-Palmares, TNADF president, the foundation through the gala has served as a reminder that we are all immigrants, by telling stories through its partnership with RmediA, a full-service video production company located in Danbury, of those who have come to America generations ago and, in the same breath, those who have recently arrived in the United States in search of the same American Dream.

“At this time, more than ever, the American Dream Awards is a beacon of hope, love and inclusion – a vehicle to support, celebrate and inspire our immigrant community,” said Bacelar-Palmares.

The foundation has also partnered once again with Danbury High School’s Drama Department, to take on an impressive and promising theme: Hamilton – The Musical. 

Three interpretative dance performances of songs from the original score of the Broadway’s hit play about Alexander Hamilton, one of the most influential immigrants in American history, will adorn the gala’s program.

The New American Dream Foundation selected honorees in the following categories:

The American Dream Lifetime Achievement Award (presented by AARP Connecticutrecognizes individuals whose life journey is the embodiment of the American Dream.

2019 American Dream Lifetime Achievement Award recipient:

Peter V. Scalzo - Son of Victor A. Scalzo, who came over through Ellis Island from Italy, started a refrigeration business in Danbury, refrigerated the first railroad car in Danbury and worked on refrigeration in the schools during the Second World War.

Peter Scalzo, as a part of the first generation of Americans in his family, honored his father’s legacy and served our country. He continued in the refrigeration business, making Scalzo Appliances into one of the largest and most successful appliance stores in the area, where he dedicated fifty years of his life. He served in the United States Coast Guard during the Korean War, and alongside his spouse, Joyce, he has raised four children: Peter, Paul, Belinda and Vicki, who continue the family’s tradition of hard work and service to the community.

The American Dream Veteran Award honors individuals who are serving or have served in the military, made the commitment to defend our country before becoming a U.S. citizen, and faced many challenges along their journey to achieve their American Dream.

2019 American Dream Veteran Award recipient:

Corporal Juan Vasquez was born in the Dominican Republic on August 20, 1988 and was raised in Danbury for most of his life. He currently works as a senior consultant at Cartus and is the quartermaster of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars in Danbury, CT.

The American Dream Leadership Award recognizes two individuals and/or organizations that have taken the lead in supporting members of our community in the three New American Dream Foundation focus areas: health, education and civic engagement.

2019 American Dream Leadership Award recipients:

Dr. Spyros Smith, a proud Greek American, has been practicing internal medicine for 20 years at Danbury Hospital.

Fernanda Pontes, a Brazilian actress, TV host, philanthropist and founder of the “If You” Foundation, has led the series "Planeta Brasil" for the past decade, telling the life stories of hundreds of Brazilian immigrants across the United States.

2019 American Dream Scholarship Award Finalists:

This award category was open to the public for nomination. The nomination process for the 2019 American Dream Students of the Year began in February and ended on June 28.

Ten finalists in the running for the evening’s top honor, Students of the Year, will receive two tickets to attend the gala. The five winners, revealed at the gala, will receive $2,000, the American Dream Awards statue and will have their names permanently displayed on a plaque in Danbury City Hall honoring The New American Dream Foundation’s American Dream Awards.

The ten finalists for the 2019 Student of the Year Award, in the running for five $2,000 scholarships, are:

Emily Souza

Age: 18 years old

Country of Birth: Brazil

Career choice: Psychology

Denisse Rodas

Age: 18 years old

Country of Birth: Ecuador

Career choice: Nursing

Barkha Bhavsar

Age: 18 years old

Country of Birth/Origin: United States/India

Career choice: Chemical Engineering

Jasmyn Torres Rodriguez

Age: 19 years old

Country of Birth: Dominican Republic

Career choice: Business Management

Gloria Villagrana

Age: 18 years old

Country of Birth: Mexico

Career choice: Nursing

Jana Fajardo

Age: 19 years old

Country of Birth/Origin: United States/Ecuador

Career choice: Nursing

Fernanda Ruiz

Age: 18 years old

Country of Birth: Peru

Career choice: Nursing

Rock-Edens Lamour

Age: 17 years old

Country of Birth: Haiti

Career choice: Sport Psychology

Francis Sanchez

Age: 18 years old

Country of Birth: Ecuador

Career choice: Software Engineering

Julia Cavalcante Rodrigues

Age: 18 years old

Country of Birth: Brazil

Career choice: Oncology

Tickets to the Gala

Tickets are $125.00 per person and include a cocktail hour, followed by a 3-course dinner, cash bar throughout the night, dancing and the American Dream Awards ceremony filled with inspiring life stories celebrating the contributions that generations of immigrants have made to our region and to our country in the pursuit of their American Dream.

Tickets sales will benefit Mission Health Day – a day of free health screenings and other community services for the uninsured and the income challenged, hosted by Western Connecticut Health Network, Western Connecticut State University and The New American Dream Foundation. This years Mission Health Day will be held on October 5 at the Bill Williams Gym at the WCSU downtown campus. A portion of the gala’s ticket cost is tax deductible.

To buy tickets, tables and ads in our event booklet visit: www.tribunaamericandreamawards.com/shop