PLANTSVILLE — The hall was filled with love, support and admiration as the Immigrant Heritage Hall of Fame celebrated the Year of the Woman at its annual gala and induction ceremony Thursday night.
Guests snacked on crackers and cheese, drank wine and socialized with each other at cocktail hour while listening to live music.
The tables were filled with families, friends, colleagues and local organizations of the winners and Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewics even made an appearance at the event taking photos with the winners and guests.
“It is a great pleasure to have you all here tonight to celebrate four great women who have made great contributions to our community, our state and the nation as a whole,” said Demetrios Giannaros, president of The Temple. of the renown of immigrant heritage. “This event was scheduled to take place in 2020, on the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.”
Asha Lassen, vice president of the National Immigrant Heritage Center, said it was a night for all women.
“Tonight we’re not just celebrating the four distinguished inductees, but every woman, so tonight is very important,” Lassen said.
The keynote speaker was Angelina Gadelina, piano teacher and coordinator of keyboard studies at the University of Connecticut. Gadelina has lived a rich musical life as a soloist, chamber musician, new music expert and educator.
“These four important Americans play a unique role in this country; they have transformed our society and play a huge role in our advancement and progress,” Gadelina said. “These four incredible women tonight have come this far through their courage and faith. Thank you all for your tireless efforts for the betterment of humanity.
Gadelina was especially honored and thrilled to share the stage with University of Connecticut Honoree and Interim President Radenka Maric.
“With the two of us here, it demonstrates that our state’s flagship university is elevating its value and being hospitable and welcoming to immigrants,” she added.
Chris George, Executive Director of IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services), was among the first attendees and thought it was a great idea to honor women and was looking forward to hearing from them.
“This mission of welcoming refugees and immigrants is probably one of the best things this country does – welcoming immigrants from all over the world and helping them start a new life and I think that should be celebrated,” he said. he declared. “So every time I get the chance to do something like that, I jump on it.”
The first prize awarded was for Judith Altmann, who at the age of 97 was unable to attend due to covid concerns.
“For those of you who may not know, Judy was a Holocaust survivor and educator and had a mission to educate young people about her story. Over time, she spoke to more of 100,000 students,” said Jewish community leader Peter Lilienthal, who accepted on his behalf.
Chaplain Aida Mansoor also received an award.
“I want to thank the National Immigrant Heritage Center for this tremendous award and the incredible committee who worked tirelessly to tell our stories and make this evening so special, even to the point of interviewing my 84 year old mother in London, England via Zoom,” she said. “I’ve been so blessed to be surrounded by so many great, amazing people who are so dedicated to building bridges and working together.”
Dr. Radenka Maric was next to be honoured.
“My father and my mother always told me that you have to build a life, you always have to be optimistic and life is not fair but it is good. I have learned many tragedies, but I have always been upbeat and positive,” she said. “And I always found strength in my family, in my friends and there was always something to look forward to. The second thing they said was community. Always take care of the community and the community means a lot. I have my amazing community from UConn here tonight, and my amazing family and friends from Connecticut.
Marilda Gándara was the last woman to be honored.
“My dear friend told me it was like a Cap Stone Award. When you finish school you get a Cap Stone course and that brings it all together and I think she’s absolutely right because now that I’m coming to the end of my career, I see that this award brings together my beginnings and this period,” she said. “I came to this country when I was a child and I couldn’t speak English, but this wonderful, great country has opened its heart and arms and everything to me and yes there have been hard times all of us who are people of color all have stories to tell and don’t be fooled by my green eyes and fair skin, we all understand no matter what, but it’s a minor part of America, it’s a part we need to fix, but the real America is the one that took us in.