Gail Smith Awards Celebrates Progress In Services, Community Connections

Newtown Bee By Larissa Lytwyn


Parent Connection co-founder Dorrie Carolan was congratulated by NYS Program Services coordinator Roseanne Loring and Director Anthony Tozzi after Parent Connection was honored as a Gail Smith Award recipient.

Parent Connection co-founder Dorrie Carolan was congratulated by NYS Program Services coordinator Roseanne Loring and Director Anthony Tozzi after Parent Connection was honored as a Gail Smith Award recipient. – Bee Photo, Lytwyn


Parent Connection co-founder Dorrie Carolan was congratulated by NYS Program Services coordinator Roseanne Loring and Director Anthony Tozzi after Parent Connection was honored as a Gail Smith Award recipient.

Humanity was what Newtown Youth Services’ co-founder Gail Smith stood for, according to current Director Anthony Tozzi.

It is also, he said, what Newtown Youth Services stands for today.

The Gail Smith Awards, created in honor of Ms Smith shortly after she lost her battle with cancer in the early 1990s, each year recognizes a youth, adult, and business that exemplifies the humanity Newtown Youth Services champions.

After a round of applause “recognizing,” Mr Tozzi said, “past Gail Smith Awards recipients and those yet to be honored,” NYS Board member Kathleen Burns Hart introduced the nominators for each of the 2004 honorees.

Program Services coordinator Roseanne Loring began her nomination of Parent Connection founders Dorrie Carolan and Donna DeLuca with a quote from the book Simple Abundance.

“In order to hear your calling and answer it,” she quoted, “you must generously give yourself the gift of time. It’s not how fast you make your dream come true, but how steadily your pursue it.”

Ms Carolan and Ms DeLuca reestablished Newtown’s Parent Connection, a grassroots organization dedicated to preventing and raising awareness of substance use and abuse, last summer.

Over the past six months, they have held a number of community forums on subjects including alcohol and prescription drug abuse that drew audiences of up to 300.

“They successfully brought many different factions into the discussions,” Ms Loring said, “town officials, education personnel, law enforcement, and social service agencies.”

They also began a Monday night “Hope and Support” group in conjunction with Newtown Youth Services.

“We are absolutely humbled and honored by this recognition,” said Ms Carolan, accepting the award on behalf of Parent Connection. “What began as a crusade 11 years ago, in an effort to save my oldest son and many other young people who were struggling with addiction, has finally come to fruition.”

She continued, “Through the generosity of Newtown Youth Services, we were afforded the opportunity to fulfill the first part of our mission, which is to educate and empower our community in the prevention of substance abuse.”

She thanked First Selectman Herb Rosenthal, “who has had the courage to address Newtown’s drug problem, although, at times, this is not a popular stance,” as well as the support of the Newtown Police Department, Health District Director Judy Blanchard, school psychologist Pam Crowcroft, and Board of Education Chair Elaine McClure, as well as John Hamilton of LMG Services, a Fairfield County-based agency dedicated to substance abuse education and treatment.

“The biggest thank you goes to our families, especially our husbands, who support us when we go way out there on the limb, and to our children who continue to challenge and inspire us,” said Ms Carolan.

“And last, but certainly not least,” she said, “the community, who has supported us in this effort by attending our forums and participating in the discussions of this tough topics.”

She continued, “We have communicated with more than 500 families over the last year.”

The heartfelt speech drew thunderous applause and even visible emotion from many of the attendees.

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