Annual Governor's Luncheon
More than 250 business leaders and community members gathered for the annual Governor’s Luncheon that took place on Thursday, October 20, 2016 at the Hartford Marriott Downtown. Tim Lammers, Anchor of Fox61 Morning News served as the emcee and outlined what will be a year-long campaign by his news station for a drug-free Connecticut. He unveiled the first of what will be many short Public Service Announcements to send an important message about the serious drug issues in our state.
Participants heard testimony to the incredible returns on investing in our youth that can be achieved through partnerships. Jill K. Spineti, President and CEO, The Partnership announced $1 million in competitive grants for programs to address the critical issues facing youth involved with drugs, alcohol use, and those suffering from racial inequality. “More than 37,000 students in Connecticut are disengaged and disconnected,” she commented. “We are doing something to turn this around.”
Michael D. Smith, Special Assistant to the President, My Brother’s Keeper at the White House delivered the keynote address. His message was resounding. He applauded The Partnership for its leadership efforts to invest in prevention programs for youth efforts in particular to reduce chronic absenteeism. My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) is not waiting until our children are off track, he said. Rather the program is addressing issues from the beginning. MBK serves the most vulnerable youth. Washington can not do it all, he said. It is up to the states and communities and Connecticut is certainly at the forefront in this effort. MBK makes sure that all young people can reach their potential. Boys and young men of color are at the focus of this effort. MBK began in 2014. All 50 states and 250 communities now have the program. They have received $1 billion to support new policy initiatives. Smith outlined some of those initiatives including PELL grants, a Second Chance for incarcerated youth while in prison.
Nothing compares to the personal story. Smith’s words about his work and the work of My Brother’s Keeper were clearly powerful. When he spoke of growing up in Springfield, MA to parents who were 16 years old at the time and whose brother, Tory became involved in gangs, could not work himself out of the system, and was shot and killed at the tender age of 27, it touched the crowd. Smith credited so many mentors, teachers and the Boys & Girls Club for their care as positive role models.
The Honorable Richard A. Robinson, a Connecticut Supreme Court Justice addressed the group. He was a young attorney in Stamford many years ago when he relied on an important gentleman, Francis Kirwin, the Tax Assessor for the City of Stamford at the time, who took the time to mentor him on both career and personal matters. Without the strength of this man (who ironically is the Father of Jill Spineti) and others who supported him, he would not be where he is today. He quoted Frederick Douglass, “it is easier to build strong children than repair broken men.”