2023 Honorees Betty and Bill Smith
Giving back to the community has been at the heart of Betty and Bill’s life journey. Whether in California, Connecticut or on one of their many expeditions with airstream in tow, this dynamic duo creates change and lasting impact wherever they go. Both individually and as a couple, Betty and Bill have been at the heart of Always Home's growth. In 2014, Bill served on Always Home’s Board of Directors for 6 years, including two and a half years as President where he oversaw the nonprofit’s rebranding and strategic planning process. Betty volunteered as Always Home’s Gala Chair for three years before joining the Board in 2017. In 2019, she was appointed interim Executive Director, a position that was quickly made permanent once the Board realized that Betty possessed the knowledge, skills, experience and enthusiasm to steer Always Home forward.
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.
2020 Honoree Susette Tibus
Service to others is as natural as breathing for Susette. As President and CEO of the Mystic Aquarium and co-owner of Simply Majestic Jewelry in Mystic, Susette has proven to be a local leader who takes 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.
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.
2019 Honorees Mary Brodeur, Carissa Decelles and Ron Wertz & Miranda Creative
Every-day heroes Mary, Ron and Carissa tapped into their super powers — photography, social media and design – to benefit those at risk of homelessness. As members of the Miranda Creative team engaged to rebrand our organization, all three of these creatives worked alongside Always Home’s Board of Directors and staff to develop a meaningful brand change, create memorable images of community advocates holding iconic cardboard signs, and develop the #givemeasign social media campaign. With their expert guidance, our organization became Always Home.
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.
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.
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.”
2015 Honoree Rev. Dr. George Kenneth Carpenter
It is through Rev. Carpenter's compassion, social vision and unflinching determination that Always Home became a regional leader in Preventing Family Homelessness. As our longest-serving member of our Board of Directors, Rev. Carpenter was a dedicated shepherd of Always Home until 2019, whereupon he was honored as our first Board Member Emeritus.