Contributing Author: Shelby Juarez
Published: October 26, 2015
Triangle Community Center (TCC) celebrated 25 years of service to Fairfield County’s LGBTQ community on September 26 with its most successful fundraising gala to date. TCC’s 9th Annual Visionary Party: the Silver Jubilee raised over $90,000 for TCC and for the LGBTQ community in a gala that celebrated LGBTQ community leaders, and that welcomed hundreds of guests rallying in support of the LGBTQ community.
Silver descended upon Stamford after months of planning on September 26th at the Sheraton Hotel. To help celebrate with TCC was Stamford Mayor David Martin and wife Judy, Congressman Jim Himes and wife Mary, and Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Andrew McDonald and husband Charles among other community leaders from partner and sponsor organizations.
Local notable comedienne Mina Hartong began emceeing at the VIP dinner where awards and new TCC promotional videos were presented and the live auction and appeal were held. VIP attendees found themselves in bidding wars for tickets to see Ricky Martin in concert, and to acquire fine engraved jewelry and top-shelf liquor bottles. Chords were struck with many at the live appeal who pledged large donations with anonymous matching donors and their dedication to the LGBTQ community to motivate them.
Executive Director Anthony Crisci was overwhelmed by the dedication and support shown by attendees, saying, “We want the Visionary Party to be a chance to thank the individuals who enable TCC to provide services and support to the LGBTQ community of Fairfield County. To exceed all of the goals we set for this event makes me excited for the future. This event will enable us to grow at a faster rate, better respond to the needs of the community, and improve the lives of so many people.”
TCC also presented awards to a number of deserving recipients who have worked tirelessly throughout their careers serving the LGBTQ community. TCC Director of Operations Conor Pfeifer explained, “There are so many fine individuals who work every day for the LGBTQ community, and at the Visionary Party it was a pleasure to spotlight them. We recognized people who worked in businesses and changed hearts and minds in corporate America, we saluted our founding members who worked to build the first safe space for the community locally, and we recognized the top leader from organized labor, who has led the charge on so many important legislative battles and has fought for equality in the workplace.”
Among the many award recipients of the night were founding members of TCC, four of whom received the Legacy Award. One of the founding members, Meg Bachtel, celebrated the progress and success TCC has achieved and cited the work yet to be done for workplace protections and lived equality in a new TCC video highlighting award recipients. Many of the founding members are actively involved at TCC.
Chris Spiegelman was the recipient of the newly renamed Marge Foster Commitment to Service Award. Spiegelman served many years at TCC and led its Board of Directors during a time of remarkable growth, securing the funds to hire TCC’s first Executive Director, and fostering meaningful relationships with the Mid-Fairfield AIDS Projects and Circle Care Center.
General Electric (GE), the Community Partner of the Year, was well represented at the VIP dinner by many individuals such as Matt Brooks who is actively involved with TCC as the organization’s treasurer. GE has been ahead of the corporate pack for years, extending benefits to its LGBTQ employees ahead of the national curve. As a testament to their dedication on even the local level, they always have a physical presence at TCC events such as Pride in the Park and the Visionary Party. This year’s gala was no exception with GE representation strong at the VIP dinner, including dedicated individuals from all walks of life who proudly call GE their employer.
The Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Shawnee Estes, who has given so much love and time to TCC since moving to Connecticut from Texas. Most notably, she works actively with programs dedicated to the interests of older adults, especially within the population of older adults who experience isolation and accessibility issues.
Lori Pelletier was the Community Champion of the year. She is the first out lesbian to lead any state AFL-CIO chapter in United States history, representing thousands of individuals in organized labor and advocating for workplace fairness, due process, and justice. Pelletier is on the front lines in the fight for everyday equality, championing workplace protection and nondiscrimination. She was instrumental in advocating the passage of a bill that became law, banning discrimination based on gender identity or expression here in Connecticut.
Celebrations were just getting started at the completion of the VIP dinner with DJ Lady Tita, Mina Hartog, members of the Imperial Sovereign Court of all CT, and PhilEsha de Lox competing for the dancefloor with all of the attendees. Founding members could be found twisting and shouting to DJ Tita’s beats alongside Shawnee Estes, Volunteer of the Year other hardworking TCC volunteers. Hotel staff could even be found taking pictures with the entertainment at the step repeat.
Bringing the Silver Jubilee to Stamford is something that TCC staff, the Visionary Party Executive Committee, and volunteers work for months to make a reality. The Sheraton Hotel provided food for the VIP dinner and hosted the pre-dinner cocktail party. Desserts were provided by Daniel Suozzo, who was also pivotal in the success of the silent auction. Fine spirits and libations were provided by Diageo and event decor was provided by Daniel Florals & Events. TCC made this possible only through connecting with major sponsors including GE, World Health Clinicians, DIAGEO Rainbow Network, TD Bank, Gay Parents to Be in partnership with Reproductive Medicine, Shoff Darby, Anderson Tax, Factset, and Connect Computer.