Ten individuals from West Hartford and surrounding towns were recently honored for their contributions to the community and ability to ‘transform their vision into reality.’
By Ronni Newton
Community leaders gathered at Sight Eye Health recently to be recognized for their “vision,” but it had nothing to do with having 20-20 eyesight.
“Living in and loving this community, I wanted to look for and recognize a collection of people who understand and know how to play out their vision – people who follow their dreams and give back, too,” said Dr. Melissa Lambright, founder and owner of West Hartford’s Sight Eye Health.
The 10 individuals chosen – a combination of business and non-profit powerhouses – were from West Hartford and surrounding towns. All were thrilled to be honored.
“I’m honored to be chosen, and to be among such great names,” said Billy Grant, owner of West Hartford’s Restaurant Bricco and Grant’s, and a West Hartford Center business owner known for supporting many area charities. “I always try to put us in a position where I can give back to the community. Every time you’re recognized for doing something you love, it’s gratifying,” Grant said.
“I have been completely excited ever since I heard about it,” said Jane Shauck, owner of West Hartford-based IRIS Photography and Jane Shauck Photography. “I’m also excited about my new glasses,” said Shauck, showing off her modern frames.
All of the visionaries were treated to a complimentary eye exam and new glasses courtesy of Sight.
Kimberly Mattson Moster, owner of Kimberly Boutique and Kimberly Gift, said she was honored to be among the other visionaries. “I just do what I love. I’m really lucky,” she said.
“It’s a great honor when you work for a community institution like the JCC. It’s really part of your job to be a visionary,” said Mandell JCC Executive Director David Jacobs. He is excited to be “about to lead the JCC into the next century.”
West Hartford resident Cheryl Dumont Smith, executive director of the Aurora Women and Girls Foundation, said she was so surprised when she was contacted and told she had been chosen as a visionary. “I came into this organization which after 10 years was still just a dream. I knew it had all of the ingredients to be amazing, and now it’s coming to fruition.” The foundation supports groups and focuses on issues that positively impact women and girls in Connecticut.
Real Art Ways Executive Director Will Wilkins, who is a West Hartford resident, believes being a visionary is key to being successful in his position. “I’m always trying to think strategy, about where Real Art Ways is going so the future becomes our friend,” he said. Real Art Ways is currently hosting a unique exhibit – Cats-in-Residence – and Wilkins said it has been very successful. “There has been a steady flow of people, and the cats seem quite happy,” he said. At the time, Wilkins said that a half dozen of the cats in the program had already been adopted, and he said he would love to see 20 to 30 adopted before the exhibit concludes on Dec. 7.
West Hartford resident Roxanna Booth Miller is co-director and chief development officer of the Hartford Youth Scholars Foundation. “I feel so honored in terms of the company I’m in – a group of people all impacting the community in different and significant ways,” she said. Booth Miller said she always tries to not only give full commitment to her work, but also devote as much as possible to other activities in the community. “I give it everything I have. It’s the only way to change circumstances. If ordinary people don’t stand up and do something, nothing will change,” she said.
The complete list of visionaries honored on Nov. 12 includes: Billy Grant, Restaurateur/Founder Billy Grant Dining; David Jacobs, Executive Director of Mandell JCC; Julie Daly Meehan, HYPE Executive Director and Director of Investor Engagement & Digital Media at MetroHartford Alliance; Roxanna Booth Miller, Co-Director & Chief Development Officer of the Hartford Youth Scholars Foundation; Kimberly Mattson Moster, Owner Kimberly Boutiques and kimberly Gift; Jane Shauck, Founder IRIS Photography and Jane Shauck Photography; Sheila Schectman, CEO of American Gourmet Group and Hebert Candies; Laura Schmelter, Director of Resource Development at United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut; Cheryl Dumont Smith, Executive Director of Aurora Women and Girls Foundation; and Will K. Wilkins, Executive Director of Real Art Ways.