The Center for Empowerment & Education’s (CEE) 15th annual Hearts of Hope Breakfast was held on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at the Candlewood Inn in Brookfield. The Candlewood Inn generously donates the venue, food, and waitstaff service for this event in support of CEE’s critical programs and services that are needed now more than ever.
This year’s “Service Above Self” honorees were mother and daughter, Jacqueline and Eva Aveiga, with the awards presented by State Senator Julie Kushner. Jacqueline and Eva are dedicated supporters of CEE and are avid advocates of empowering all individuals.
“Thank you so much to CEE for selecting us this year as the Service Above Self Award honorees. This organization holds a dear place in our hearts as it coincides perfectly with our mission to empower and uplift all individuals at Miss & Teen Danbury CT. CEE is such an amazing organization and to see the room full of inspiring individuals and businesses supporting their work to provide services at no cost to sexual assault and domestic violence victims was powerful,” said Eva Aveiga, 2023 Service Above Self Award recipient.
The theme of this year’s event was “How Our Stories Impact Theirs.” Brave and resilient staff members of CEE shared their lived experiences on paper and were so beautifully and respectfully brought to life by several of CEE’s Board members. The stories displayed survival, thriving, and hope and it’s clear that the CEE staff has had an amazing impact on the community.
“People with lived experience should not be considered as the walking wounded. Instead, they should be looked at as experts because of their experience and as a result, their expertise can affect lasting change. Because of the path that a victim has walked, new policies and laws are born. It takes these experiences for decision-makers to put a face to a story and understand the significance of their role in developing, passing, and implementing trauma-informed processes, policies, and laws. We need to embed lived experience and the voices of survivors into every aspect of interpersonal violence programs and advocacy,” said Ashley Dunn, CEE President and CEO.