The Fritzie Levine Gala
Deputy Commissioner Kathryn du Pree
In early August each year, the Parents and Friends of Lower Fairfield Center and Associated Group Homes hold their annual black tie dinner dance. This year, the event was renamed, the “Fritzie Levine Gala” to honor a long time advocate for individuals with intellectual disabilities, Fritzie Levine. Fritzie, who passed away last August, was a former President of the Parents and Friends group, the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, FORConn and a recipient of the Governor M. Jodi Rell’s Connecticut Treasure Award.
“There wasn’t a day that went by that Fritzie wasn’t advocating,” said Commissioner Peter H. O’Meara. “You would find her at the Lower Fairfield Center, at the department’s central office or at the Capitol lobbying not only for her own son, but for everyone’s sons and daughters.”
The event was started 14 years ago by the current West Region Assistant Regional Director Jackson Pierre-Louis. He had a vision that residents of the center would don tuxedoes and evening gowns and be joined by family, friends and staff for an evening of dinning and dancing.
|Front Row - BJ Stramandinoli, Back Row- (left to right) Margaret Perry, LFC Interim Residential Manager, Cindy Stramandinoli and Jackson Pierre-Louis, West Region Assistant Regional Director|
During the course of the evening awards were presented to employees, advocates and friends of the center. In addition to recognizing the great contribution of the Pro Sports Challenge fundraiser held in June, the staff honored long time advocate Domenic Stramandinoli by renaming the gym in his memory. Mr. Stramandinoli passed away last year. He and his wife, Cindy had over the years developed programs at the center which included a Friday Night Recreational Program and organizing Special Olympics for the residents.
The Continental Manor in Norwalk has always hosted the event and the same disc jockey, “Big Dady” provides the music. Several State Legislators and local officials including Norwalk Mayor Richard A. Moccia attend the event each year. Former Representative Christel Truglia and Senator Bob Duff, District 25 have always been big supporters.
The residential center provides 24-hour direct care that serves over 70 people with severe or profound mental retardation. Over the years, the center has been strongly supported by The Parents and Friends of Lower Fairfield Center, an advocacy organization that works to enhance the resident’s lives.