Each year, Triangle Community Center hands out five awards at the annual Visionary Party gala to the individuals and organizations who have worked tirelessly to grow and improve the local LGBTQ community in Fairfield County and in the state of Connecticut. The awards given include the Community Champion Award, the Marge Foster Commitment to Service Award, the Legacy Award, the Volunteer of the Year Award, and the Community Partner of the Year Award.
Read below about just some of the incredible efforts that 2017's honorees have put forth.
The Community Champion Award
Hon. Deirdre M. Daly
The Community Champion Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding advocacy for the LGBTQ community. Past recipients have included leaders for LGBTQ inclusion and fairness in the workplace, and those who have headed up efforts to support and strengthen the community locally.
Deirdre M. Daly was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut on March 13, 2014. She is the first woman to be nominated and confirmed to be the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut. During her tenure, Daly’s office focused on keeping Connecticut safe with compassionate outreach that embraced all communities. TCC salutes her for her LGBTQ outreach.
As U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, Deirdre and her staff have worked hard to build bridges and create greater understanding between law enforcement and the minority communities they serve. Last year, this work included robust partnerships with members and leaders of the Arab, Muslim, Sikh, African American and LGBTQ communities. Deirdre's Office has provided cultural competency and anti-bias trainings for hundreds of police officers, know-your-rights anti-bullying trainings for students, and security trainings for religious leaders.
Since 2013, U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly has worked closely with the Office LGBTQ Liaison David Heath, several Assistant U.S. Attorneys on her staff as well as the FBI and local law enforcement leaders to engage in outreach efforts with members of the LGBTQ community. This work has benefited LGBTQ folks in Connecticut and across the Department of Justice.
These LGBTQ outreach efforts intensified in the wake of the June 2016 tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Deirdre and members of her team held several meetings with LGBTQ community leaders aimed at encouraging LGBTQ victims, including those who are victims of human trafficking, to report crimes to law enforcement and emphasizing that law enforcement is there for them. The USAO hosted a training class for Connecticut police officers focusing on LGBTQ issues in law enforcement. More recently, Daly's office worked to present two workshops for LGBTQ+ teenagers at the 2017 True Colors Conference at UConn. These workshops focused on issues pertinent to LGBTQ youth, including hate crimes, community/police relations and careers in law enforcement. Under Deirdre's leadership, her office also met with representatives from Connecticut organizations that provide health services to the LGBTQ community to discuss civil protections guaranteed under federal law. In June of this year, Deirdre's office presided over a panel discussion at Gateway Community College in New Haven that brought together LGBTQ police liaisons and a diverse group of community members for an engaging conversation about community policing and LGBTQ culture. In 2016, the USAO produced an outreach video designed to support LGBTQ youth in crisis.
Marge Foster Commitment to Service Award
The Marge Foster Commitment to Service Award is TCC's oldest current award presented at the Visionary Party. The award spotlights an individual or group of individuals who have recently demonstrated outstanding support for Triangle Community Center. Past recipients have included program leaders with a lifelong commitment to the organization, former board members who have positively shaped the agency, and individuals who have given TCC their all.
Sam Harms is an enthusiastic and grateful TCC volunteer. She founded and facilitates Bisexuals & Allies of Fairfield County, a peer-support and social group for bi+ folks and their allies in the Fairfield County area. The group has over 500 members online and has social events at TCC and out in the community, including annual activities for Celebrate Bisexuality Day/Bi+ Visibility Day.
Sam fostered an atmosphere where newcomers are always warmly welcomed. Throughout the past few years, Sam has helped out with a variety of different TCC programs, including behind-the-scenes support for special events like Pride in the Park, hosting guided hikes and outings for Outdoor & More, helping to plan activities and programs. Before joining TCC’s volunteer corps, Sam also volunteered for a number of other community nonprofits, including a suicide hotline, a neighborhood mentoring program for public school kids, tutoring and mentoring college students and young adults with mental illness and other psychosocial difficulties, lending a hand at events for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and doing outreach and letter campaigns for Amnesty International. Sam can usually be found collaborating with another volunteer or a team, and she is a firm believer in the power of community building and nonjudgmental support to help improve the lives of all who make up the LGBTQ rainbow.
The Legacy Award
The Legacy Award is presented to an individual or individuals who have helped shaped TCC's history. It was created in 2015 on the occasion of TCC's 25th anniversary, to honor the tireless work of TCC's founders.
For over a decade, Bill has been actively involved at Triangle Community Center. His dedication to TCC and the LGBTQ community and a lifetime of compassion have distinguished him as TCC's Legacy Award recipient in 2017.
Bill started his insurance career as an account manager and system implementation specialist at Shoff Darby Insurance Agency. During his career, Bill rose through the ranks and applied his passion and talent to giving back. Bill helps out at and has attended TCC events for years, and thanks in part to his generosity TCC is where it is today.
A resident of Norwalk, Connecticut, Bill is an active member of the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee, helping businesses to advocate and get the resources they need to succeed. He is also a Board of Directors member for Kids in Crisis, supporting kids when they need help the most. Additionally, Bill is a key figure at Lambda Legal’s Connecticut Cares fundraising event, helping to raise funds for one of the nation's largest LGBTQ legal advocacy organizations.
The Volunteer of the Year Award
TCC loves its volunteers. Each year, TCC presents a Volunteer of the Year award to an individual who has dedicated their work over the past year to improving TCC's programs and services, and has been a staple of our volunteer corps.
Franco’s journey as a volunteer began at Coffee Talk, TCC’s daytime social. Beginning with small steps like setting up for the program, Franco saw the passion in TCC’s program leaders. Franco even would from time to time lead Coffee Talk. From there, Franco became a key figure in TCC’s volunteer corps, volunteering at big events like Pride in the Park, and helping with smaller gatherings, like Gay Santa and TCC’s Open House. Following the opening of TCC’s Young Adult Services Program (YAS), they knew more volunteer opportunities were coming. Franco helped to facilitate stress management workshops at YAS, and even led a social program where they led a painting workshop. Franco can be found in and around TCC—at Pride, they talk to TCC guests about what TCC does and why they should get involved, and at TCC’s regular programs and services. Franco takes full advantage of TCC’s programming and services and shares their passion with the greater community. Whether you see Franco heading up the Transgender Day of Visibility, marching with TCC in Stamford’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, working the crowd at Pride in the Park, or at an everyday program, you will see the passion they have for TCC. TCC is delighted to honor Franco Rodriguez with the Volunteer of the Year Award.
The Community Partner of the Year Award
CIRCLE CARE Center
The community partner of the year award is presented to a business or organization that has truly supported TCC's efforts and deserves recognition for its employees' efforts to make Fairfield County a more diverse and inclusive place.
CIRCLE CARE Center (CCC) is a key resource for Fairfield County's LGBTQ community. CCC provides primary care for the LGBTQ community and allies, offers primary care, HIV/AIDS treatment specialist services, support for the trans and gender non-conforming communities, mental health services, and sexual health expertise.
CCC leads Fairfield County in providing care for the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ clients deserve care that affirms who they are and that knows their experience. As trans individuals and gay men face higher rates of HIV/AIDS than their peers, CCC is there to give them the support they need. With sexually transmitted infections on the rise, CCC meets its clients wherever they may be in life and connects them not just with the medical tools they need but resources that educate our population and improve the quality of life in our communities. As the LGBTQ community faces higher rates of mental health issues, CCC is able to provide mental services in-house for people in need of it.
TCC is proud to partner with CCC every day. Whether it's at Pride in the Park each year where CCC stands with us as a presenting sponsor, or finding care for TCC clients looking for LGBTQ-competent medical care, or providing support for TCC's ongoing programs and services, we are very proud to salute CCC as our Community Partner of the Year.