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Gala Honorees

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2022 Honoree David Cruthers
Dave’s relationship with Always Home began in 2013 when he became a member of its volunteer Board of Directors. He believed strongly in Always Home’s mission and was proud to be contributing to the organization’s positive impact in families’  lives. In 2016, he left his Board position for an opportunity to do more. Always Home (then MASH) hired Dave as part-time Employment and Transportation Coordinator. For three years, Dave worked to increase employment opportunities for Always Home’s client families and to grow and formalize our Wheels to Work program. With help from the Valenti Family of Dealerships, Dave developed a Wheels to Work protocol, so that every donated car is now inspected and determined to be road-safe before handing the keys over to a client family.

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2020 Honoree Susette Tibus
Service to others is as natural as breathing for Susette. As a local leader and co-owner of Simply Majestic Jewelry in Mystic, Susette has always taken an active interest in her community and the people who call it home. She is an enthusiastic supporter of Always Home, one of many local organizations to which she contributes her time and talent. In addition to being honored by Always Home, Susette has been honored with a Lifetime Service Award from the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Paul Harris Award for Outstanding Community Service, and the Humanitarian Service Award from the Lions Club. 

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2020 Honoree Michael Mondello
Mike is passionate about bettering his community. As Founder and CEO of Mystic Financial Group, LLC, a financial advisory firm located in Mystic, CT, Mike specializes in helping individuals develop sound income strategies for retirement. His ability to look ahead and thoughtfully plan punctuated Mike's eight years of service on Always Home's Board of Directors.  Most notably is his tenure from 2014 - 2018 when he served as Board President overseeing  the design and implementation of an ambitious strategic plan that included the organization’s successful rebranding from MASH to Always Home. 

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2019 Honorees Mary Brodeur, Carissa Decelles and Ron Wertz of Miranda Creative
Every-day heroes and Miranda Creative employees Mary, Ron and Carissa tapped into their super powers — photography, social media and design – to benefit those at risk of homelessness. From working with Always Home’s leadership through the complex emotions and reasons behind a brand change, to taking memorable images of community advocates holding iconic cardboard signs, to developing the engaging #givemeasign media campaign — all three of these (Miranda) creatives gave their all to Always Home. 

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2018 Honoree Joyce Olson Resnikoff
Joyce is a visionary and trailblazer.  As owner of Olde Mistick Village (OMV), she dreams for her community and effectively shares those dreams. Always Home has been honored to be a multi-year beneficiary of OMV's legendary Cabin Fever Festival and Charity Chowder Cook Off in February and its Garlic Fest in September. Joyce has also been a strong supporter of Always Home's below-market-rate rental program which helps families improve their financial stability, develop tenancy skills and build stronger futures for their children.

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2017 Honoree The Honorable Andrew Maynard
As a State Senator, Andrew always kept a focus on the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors.  He co-sponsored legislation to create an earned income tax credit to provide tax relief to low-income families, and was a proponent of measures to expand the HUSKY health care program for uninsured children. Seeing the need for more affordable housing for our working families, Andy served as a board member of the Southeastern Connecticut Affordable Housing Alliance. He co-chaired the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness in Southeastern Connecticut, and through Andy’s work, the New London County Fund to End Homelessness secured annual funding that is used by Always Home and regional partners to end homelessness in our communities.

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2016 Honoree Lisa Tepper Bates
Lisa is both an inspirational and aspirational leader. As our organization's first Executive Director, Lisa transformed our organization from reliance on scattered-site shelters to a "Housing First" approach By focusing on the prevention of homelessness, fewer families spend time in the stressful state of homelessness or emergency shelter. Recognizing the redundancy of already scarce resources for families in need, as well as the obstacles families’ faced in accessing those resources, Lisa was instrumental in forging a collaboration of local individual organizations. The development of the Statewide Coordinated Access Network (CAN)  and the 2-1-1 system greatly assists families in housing crisis through the establishment of a “single front door.”

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2015 Honoree Rev. Dr. George Kenneth Carpenter
In 1997 a woman slept on the steps of the Union Baptist Church in Mystic for three nights. On her last morning there, she joined the worship service leaving a dollar bill with a note in the collection basket. She explained how she had become homeless after losing her job. Three weeks earlier, she had been stably housed. Always Home  (then MASH) began as a grassroots effort to address the rising tide of homelessness. Rev. Carpenter, our founder and Union Baptist Church’s minister at the time, recruited the help of human service agencies, local business groups and faith-based organizations to create a community-led response to the critical need for emergency housing.  As a dedicated member of our Board of Directors, his leadership continued until 2019, whereupon he was honored as our first Board Member Emeritus. It is through Rev. Carpenter's compassion, social vision and unflinching determination that Always Home became a regional leader in Preventing Family Homelessness.