Operation Hope to host 14th annual Evening of Hope

Operation Hope will acknowledge the support and dedication of the surrounding community by celebrating four honorees to receive their first ever Community Hero Awards during the 14th annual Evening of Hope Wednesday, May 27, from 6:30-10 p.m., at The Patterson Club, 1118 Cross Highway, Fairfield. The celebration will include a cocktail reception, dinner, silent and live auction.

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available and open to the public. For tickets and information, contact Paula Morthanos at [email protected] or at 203-292-5588, ext. 246.

Conferred upon four outstanding community members for their dedication to and support of the mission of Operation Hope, will be the following Community Hero Awards:

The Reverend David W. Spollett and Rabbi Leon Waldman Award — Named after Rev. David Spollett (First Church Congregational) and Rabbi Leon Waldman (Congregation Beth El) for their extraordinary vision and courage that led to the birth of Operation Hope. This award will be presented to Dawn and John Egan, cofounders of Hang Your Hat foundation, which they created to support the development of housing with supportive services — two key ingredients in ending homelessness. Operation Hope shares their vision of a community in which all children and adults have a warm, safe and positive place to hang their hat. Thanks to their generous investment, OH (and the Town of Fairfield) gained four more units of safe affordable housing — currently home to five adults and nine children, thus breaking the cycle of homelessness for these deserving families.

The Stewart B. and Lucie C. McKinney Award — Named after our former Congressman and his wife who pushed forward federal legislation that created public policy, critical funding, and a voice for those who struggle with homelessness. This award will be presented to Joel Z. Green, a former Board Chair of Operation Hope and an attorney with Green and Gross, PC, a firm serving the greater Bridgeport area. He has served on numerous commissions and boards, including serving five two-year terms on the Fairfield RTM, including six years as moderator. Joel’s leadership at a time of uncertainty was critical to Operation Hope’s ability to recover and move forward. He filled a critical void; acting as interim executive director when the position was vacated. He was also instrumental in helping OH relocate to 636 Old Post Road — giving the administrative team, clinical department and food pantry a more permanent home and the ability to serve additional people in need.

The Jacky Durrell Award — Named after our former First Selectman and State Legislator, who helped launch our shelter and pantry and championed our work to make the community a better place for all. Jennifer Poling is the honored recipient of this award. Board Chairs of Operation Hope had always been clergy members, until Jennifer stepped up and became the first leader from the community at large. As Board Chair, she led the organization at a time of unprecedented change and helped Operation Hope expand its vision (and its reach) through a capital campaign and the development of eight new units of housing on Jarvis Court. Her dedication to our community helped move Operation Hope closer to the day when everyone will have supportive relationships, hope for the future, and a place to call home.

Community Business Leader Award — Operation Hope will also be recognizing George Chatzopoulos and his team at Chip’s Restaurant in Fairfield. Their commitment to serving the community through charitable activity sets them apart from their peers. Chip’s Thanksgiving Pancake Breakfast has become a tradition in Fairfield and the funds raised through the generosity of every staff person there has helped Operation Hope feed more families, shelter more people, and provide safe, affordable housing for those in need. The entire team deserves this special award for their superior customer service and dedication to making the world a little brighter for all of us.

Carla Miklos, Executive Director of Operation Hope, explains the scope of the mission, pointing to the transformative experience achieved through its programs. “Primary goals of offering food and shelter led to more longterm solutions to hunger and homelessness. Our programs address the need for affordable housing; they provide access to personalized clinical support and offer life-skills training. Those who come to Operation Hope at a time of hardship gain access to the tools they need to provide for themselves and their families, facing the future with their pride and dignity intact. Being a part of this amazing community has been the very essence of what makes Operation Hope a success. We extend an invitation to all who have supported our mission in the past and reach out to those who would like to join us as we move forward and celebrate community heroes into the future,” says Carla.

Thank you to our event committee members as well our generous sponsors, including Jeffrey and Alexandria Currie, UIL Holdings, Integrated Print Systems (IPS), People’s United Bank, Angel Commercial, LLC and the Pink Pom Pom Project. Event co-chairs, Mark Potter, Ab Igram and Tara Cook-Littman invite the community to attend, explaining that “This event is our most significant fund-raiser. By supporting the Evening of Hope, you help us support our neighbors in need of housing, shelter, food and more.”

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