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United Way 2024 Partnership: Empowering our Youth and Educators to Find Their Voices



Hi there, lovely souls!  


On April 24th, on behalf of CBI, I attended the United Way of Great Waterbury’s 37th Celebration and Awards. Picture this: a room buzzing with anticipation, pulsating with the spirit of achievement and unity. And let me tell you, folks, it was a night to remember, dedicated to honoring the incredible power of philanthropy and community partnership.  


For the last year, we’ve been providing mindfulness training to youth, teachers, and parents throughout Waterbury. Since our lead facilitator, Brian, wasn’t available to attend the event, I went in his honor. 


Let's talk about Brian Thompson for a moment—what a powerhouse of inspiration! He was featured in the night’s short film highlighting youth volunteers in the Upstarters program who created art after learning about mindfulness with Brian. In the film, we were reminded that mindfulness isn't just about relaxation; it's about awakening our inner selves, empowering us to make choices that resonate with our true essence. 

Aside from the film, the evening kicked off with a powerful reminder from Grant Copeland of WORX, urging us to "quiet the noise" and truly listen. His words resonated deeply for me, echoing the very essence of mindfulness at the core of CBI's mission. It was like a guiding light illuminating our path toward the United Way's Campaign, "Help Every Voice Be Heard." 


Surrounded by over 350 luminaries of our community, I found myself in awe of the collective spirit driving positive change in Greater Waterbury. From the dynamic duo of GWUW Chief Impact Officer Jered Bruzas and Community Impact Cabinet Chair Yarixa Lopez we experienced a glimpse into scale of the work initiated by Director of Community Impact Kay Mello and executed by CBI’s Director of Community Engagement. Their clarity of vision for serving their community well astonishing, and we are honored to play a part. 


Yarixa Lopez's words hit home as she shared the profound impact of the mindfulness initiative funded by the United States Department of Education grant. Imagine empowering our youth and educators to find their voices through artistic expression! The artwork displayed at the Mattatuck Museum was a kaleidoscope of emotions, a canvas where young hearts painted their dreams and fears, their joys and sorrows. Kay Mello's insights into the collaboration with Copper Beech Institute were nothing short of awe-inspiring. In the face of a global pandemic, mindfulness has become a lifeline for the Great Waterbury youth and staff, with over 86% reporting positive outcomes.   

But the true magic of the night came from a student from Waterbury Youth Services who shared her art as an expression of emotion, from the depths of anger and anxiety to the calming peace that comes from power of resilience offer through mindfulness practice. 


As I stood there, a proud resident of Great Waterbury and Director of Programs at Copper Beech Institute, I was humbled by the magnitude of our collective impact. This isn't just about the past year; it's about the ripple effect that shaping the future of our community, and in turn, all communities. 

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