The OIC (Opportunities Industrialization Center) of New London County proudly announces that its annual Community Champions Celebration will be held on Thursday, May 31 at the New London Plaza Hotel. Each year, this event celebrates and recognizes local champions who work to create lasting, effective change in the community while also showcasing the work of OIC. This year’s honorees are community servants, Tom Kasprzak, Jaye Wilson, and Ernest Hewett.
Elizabeth Binger, executive director of the New London-based organization explained, “Our three distinguished honorees have made a wide range of contributions to the community, and represent three primary focus areas for OIC – business, education, and public service. Simply put, these three individuals live OIC’s values.”
Nominated for his role as an active and dedicated community volunteer, Tom Kasprzak has devoted his time, energy and expertise to making a better community for all. Kasprzak and his wife, Joanne, were the recipients of the Keene State College “Parents of the Year” award in 2008 and the Transplant Recipients International Organization’s award in 2007 on behalf of their daughter, Mary, whose organ donations saved the lives of five people upon her passing in 2003. Her moving story is told in the book, “Plain Vanilla with Rainbow Sprinkles”, written by the Kasprzaks. All of the proceeds from the book are donated to charities, continuing the goal of helping others. In addition to his work as Vice President at Chelsea Groton Bank, Tom is a volunteer with many local organizations, including the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut, and is a professional motivational speaker.
Jaye Wilson is the principal of Winthrop Elementary School in New London. Recently featured in “Grace Magazine”, Wilson is a New London native who shared that reaching her goal of being an elementary educator in her home town is like, “dying and going to Heaven.” A thirty-year veteran of the New London Public Schools, Wilson is considered as a role model for her staff and students alike. She connects to her students, their families and the community because she not only shares their experiences and understands their fears but helps them to celebrate their successes.
Former Mayor and City Council member for New London, Ernest Hewett has represented Connecticut’s 39th District in the General Assembly since 2004. He has served in numerous positions in his capacity as State Representative and works tirelessly to improve the lives of those in his district and the state. Representative Hewett has been awarded Legislator of the Year by the State of Connecticut Police Chiefs Association and has been awarded the Top 100 Most Influential African Americans in the State of Connecticut by the Connecticut NAACP two years in a row. Representative Hewett also has the distinction of being a graduate of one of OIC’s training programs during the mid-1970’s, giving him a clear understanding of the value and concrete benefits of the agency’s services to southeastern Connecticut.
“We believe strongly in recognizing those who work to make a difference in our community and help others to find success. At OIC we see lives changed every day and this change is almost always the result of a helping hand from others – whether the recipient knows it or not” said Binger. “Each of our recipients has had a hand in changing lives and we celebrate the differences that they have made.”
Since 1970, OIC has served the New London County community with job training, skill building and certificate programs. OIC programs enable individuals to develop previously untapped talents, advance onto new career paths, and otherwise improve their lives. Through the years, OIC has helped more than 30,000 clients find better employment opportunities, gain marketable skills and contribute to a better standard of living within our community.
OIC’s mission is to provide training, basic skills, supportive counseling and job creation services to primarily low income persons regardless of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or national origin. To achieve its mission and to most effectively serve its clients, OIC is committed to providing the highest quality training possible utilizing current technology and systems and offering students hands-on learning opportunities. OIC’s philosophy of working with the “whole person” ensures that clients are not left behind because of the barriers that they face in completing their training programs. Support and services are always available to assist clients with transportation, clothing, food, energy, work supplies, and skill-building so that individuals who may never have seen themselves as successful can begin to change that picture in their minds. OIC’s staff and Board of Directors are consistently focused on identifying opportunities for new programs and services as well as creative ways in which the organization can partner and collaborate with other agencies to stretch limited resources and meet ever-increasing needs. With this in mind, OIC strives to say “Yes” when others have said “No.”
Tickets for the OIC 2012 Community Champions Celebration are available for $50 per person. Ticket price includes honoree recognition, basket raffle, live music, and a buffet supper featuring “America’s Bounty” – fresh, seasonal foods representing the best of American cuisine – all prepared and served by OIC’s Culinary Arts training program in partnership with the New London Plaza Hotel. Sponsorship opportunities are available. All proceeds from this event will benefit community programs of the OIC.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, please call OIC at (860) 447-1731.