Peggy Gisonny of New Fairfield Honored for Service Above Self at 10th Annual Hearts of Hope Breakfast

The threat of snow didn’t keep hundreds of community members, including local government officials, from Brookfield’s Fox Hill Inn early this morning for the 10th Annual “Hearts of Hope” Breakfast, a fundraiser for the Women’s Center. The Fox Hill Inn generously donated 100% of the food and service for this sold-out event.

Felicia Paduano, Women’s Center Direct Service Volunteer, and 2018 Hearts of Hope Breakfast Chair kicked off the morning thanking the many Women’s Center supporters and event sponsors.

The Heart of Hope Service Above Self award was presented to New Fairfield resident, Peggy Gisonny who has worked tirelessly as a Direct Service Volunteer for ten years; answering the Center's Hotline and counseling those in need.

Breakfast Guest Speaker was Karen Mello of Bethel, a sexual abuse survivor. She began with a quote from Brene Brown:

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.

Mello told attendees her story about a painful childhood of sexual abuse that began when she was nine years old.  Mello didn’t come to terms with the impact of the abuse until twenty-five years later when she became severely depressed, even contemplating suicide.

A strong advocate for young victims of abuse, due to Mello’s actions Connecticut Public Schools are now required to provide appropriate sexual abuse and assault prevention education for children in grades Pre-K through 12.

Mello encouraged all present at the breakfast to be part of a child’s “Telling Tree”, giving each attendee a “tree” charm bracelet with a teal band (the color of sexual violence prevention). “Give this bracelet to a child in your life,” said Mello. “Make a commitment to be on their tree,” she said.

Mello’s story brought attendees to their feet with applause and exemplified the Women’s Center’s mission:

To serve the needs of individuals, families and the community with prevention, crisis intervention, and support services with regard to domestic violence, sexual assault, and other major life crises.

Through the efforts of the Women’s Center educators, more than 23,000 adults and children benefit from the Women’s Center education and training programs annually to a wide range of audiences - from preschool children to senior citizens. The programs are all offered free of charge.

Thank you to Felicia Paduano, the Breakfast Chair, the Fox Hill Inn for donating your beautiful venue, and to all of Inn’s waitstaff who served with a smile and donated all of their time. Much gratitude to Benefactors Praxair, and The Stewart & Lucie Mckinney Foundation as well as Breakfast Advocates, Lori Berisford, Elaine Cox, and William and Wendy Beurket.

Thanks to Hearts of Hope Breakfast “Friends” including Dental Associates of CT, Fairfield County Bank, Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, Barbara Manners, Felicia Paduano, Rotary Club of Ridgefield, and Union Savings Bank.

Save the date for the Women’s Center Gala, “An Evening Together” on April 6. Learn more here.

Founded in 1975, this year marks 42 years that the Women’s Center has been a safe haven for victims of domestic and sexual violence in Fairfield & Litchfield Counties.

To learn more about the Women’s Center or to have the Center visit your school, click here.

To become a volunteer, click here.



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