MERIDEN — Girls Inc. held its first Strong, Smart, Bold benefit celebration in two years on Wednesday night.
Doreen Roddy was presented with the Strong, Smart and Bold award. Roddy has worked at City Hall in many capacities for more than 30 years and is active in many community organizations, including the Kiwanis Club, the Ancient order of Hibernians and the Daffodil Committee.
A new award — the Community Hero Award — was given to Lea Crown, the city’s director of Health and Human Services, and Stephanie Denya, associate director of heath.
“People have really been looking forward to getting together to celebrate the accomplishments of the awardees,” said Chad Cardillo, vice president of the Girls Inc. board of directors.
Roddy said Girls Inc. is a great organization that nurtures girls into young women. She added that she has enjoyed her volunteer work over the years.
“I’m excited and really honored,” Roddy said about receiving the award.
Mayor Kevin Scarpati, who was at the celebration, said it is important for Girls Inc. to be recognized for the work they do in the community. He said all of the recipients are well deserving. Crown and Denya have worked tirelessly over the last few years and “literally saved lives” during the pandemic.
Crown said it is always nice to be recognized, but they consider it part of the job. Her department started monitoring the COVID-19 situation in December 2019. She said the city had emergency preparedness plans in place that helped during the pandemic.
“In real life thoughts, emotions, behaviors and differences are all at play,” Crown said.
Denya agreed their work during the pandemic was part of the job. She said it was amazing to see all of the city’s preparation come together in a real world event.
Zoe Mullins, 10, her sister Avlen Mullins, 8 and mother Anna Terry were at the celebration dinner. Zoe and Avlen Mullins have both been members of Girls Inc. since they were in pre-kindergarten. Both said they liked the activities at Girls Inc. and meeting new people. Zoe Mullins said she likes the hip hop class and summer camp programs.
“I really liked the way they support girls and the issues they deal with,” Terry said.