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Bridge Family Center to Celebrate ‘Hope Grows Here’ at 25th Anniversary Gala

Members of the Bridge's Children's Charity Ball committee have been meeting each Tuesday morning for months to plan the event. On Feb. 20, several members (pictured on screen) joined the meeting virtually. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Children’s Charity Ball, the signature event of the Bridge Family Center, will celebrate 25 years at a gala fundraiser planned for Saturday, March 9, 2024.

By Ronni Newton

The planning committee for the 2024 Children’s Charity Ball has been hard at work for months, and details are being finalized for the Bridge Family Center’s 25th annual signature fundraiser, which will be held on Saturday, March 9.

Appropriately for an event with the theme “Hope Grows Here,” this year’s gala will be held at Farmington Gardens, a space that was transformed from former nursery and garden center and is located at 999 Farmington Avenue in Farmington.

For a quarter of a century, the Children’s Charity Ball has been a highly anticipated social event in the West Hartford community. The incredible generosity of hundreds of sponsors, attendees, and donors has helped to raise over $5 million dollars to fund the vital programs and services the Bridge offers to further their mission of supporting “Every Family. Every Child. Every Time.”

Headquartered in West Hartford, the nonprofit Bridge Family Center is “a comprehensive, regional nonprofit agency that provides a broad range of services for children and families throughout the Greater Hartford area. Founded in 1969, the Bridge offers a safe haven for children and families in crisis as well as positive, healthy intervention and prevention programs,” the website states. Services have expanded over the years and include mental health counseling, residential facilities, parent education and early childhood literacy programs, and a variety of additional programs for youth and families, many of which are school-based. The Bridge is governed by a Board of Directors, employs roughly 175 staff, and is assisted in its mission by more than 150 volunteers.

In addition the Ball, the Bridge’s budget is funded through private donations from individuals, foundations, corporations, and organizations; the Town of West Hartford; the State of Connecticut Departments of Children and Families (DCF) and Education; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Last year, we cared for 9,000 children and families in the greater Hartford area,” Executive Director Margaret Hann said. “The Ball celebrates the thousands of lives we have positively touched and reinforces the importance of our critical work. We are so grateful for the countless people who have supported our efforts for the past 25 years. Their generous gifts of time, talent, and treasure provide hope and healing to those who are struggling with life challenges and enable us to increase our span throughout the community.”

The 25th annual celebration on March 9 will begin at 6 p.m. at Farmington Gardens. The event will feature live and silent auctions, dinner, speakers, and dancing to the New York City-based band After Party. Scot Haney of WFSB will serve as emcee. Cocktail attire is suggested.

For more information about the Ball, visit the Bridge’s website. You can also access the auction information directly here.

Bridge Family Center’s Annual Children’s Charity Ball. April 29, 2023. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

What are the services the Bridge provides?

  • Mental Health Counseling – There are four counseling centers in West Hartford, Avon, and Rockville to support children, families, and adults. The therapy team includes a Psychiatrist and an APRN for medication management.
  • Residential Services – The Bridges offer a safe haven for teens and young adults throughout the region, most of whom have experienced significant trauma. The Bridge provides Short-Term Assessment and Respite youth shelters throughout Greater Hartford and beyond for children ages 11-18 (DCF referred); Emergency Shelter for homeless children and teens ages 13-17; and Transitional and Independent Living programs for young adults ages 16-21.
  • Youth and Family Services – For over four decades, the Bridge has served West Hartford as its Youth Service Bureau. It offers school-based programs, emergency in-school counseling response, positive youth development programs, mentoring, parenting services, and “The Base” at the West Hartford Teen Center.
  • Family Resource Center – The Family Resource Center is a vital source of support for young children and parents. It offers parent education, in-school support groups for children going through divorce or separation, reading readiness programs, developmental screenings, after-school learning and enrichment activities, before- and after-school daycare for preschoolers, social skills groups, and early childhood intervention programs.
  • Mosaic Parenting Center – The Mosaic Parenting Center provides an alternative to the traditional foster-care visitation program. The Center is based on the visiting coach model in which staff work with parents to improve their parenting skills and develop positive attachment with their child. Strengthening this relationship provides a host of benefits for the child, the parent, and the community.

Portions of this report previously appeared in the February 2024 issue of West Hartford Magazine.

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