THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS 2020 VIRTUAL GALA SPONSORS
Berg Enterprises, Inc.
Cornerstone Properties, Inc.
Integrity Merchant Solutions
Saint Francis Foundation
Barnes Group, Inc.
Community Health Center, Inc.
Michael K. Kalman, MediaCrossing
Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union
Peter F. Culver, Esquire
Rogin Nassau LLC
Tower Laboratories, Ltd.
360 Federal Credit Union
Accounts Plus, LLC
Day Pitney LLP
Gerner Kornick + Valcarcel, Architects, DPC
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
Jewish Family Services
Max Cares Foundation, Inc.
Merrill Lynch – Keating Group
Olsen Construction Services, LLC
Peoples United Bank
Petit Family Foundation
Tom & Tami Maloney
Foundation Champion of the Year
Rajchel Smardon is a senior at Parish Hill High School located in Chaplin, CT. She is a 3-sport athlete participating in the same sport all 4 years – playing soccer, basketball and track and field. She has been captain of her soccer and basketball teams for the last two years. Rajchel is a high honors student, a member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish National Honor Society, and the Association of Student Government. She will be attending Nichols College in Dudley, MA in the fall, majoring in Criminology and minoring in Psychology. She will also be playing on their Women’s Soccer Team.
For her senior Capstone project she looked to two things that are very important to her, soccer and teen mental health. She found a unique way to raise both awareness and dollars by organizing a soccer jamboree and fundraiser in September 2019.
Rajchel wanted to make sure she did everything she could to ensure young adults and their families have the tools they need to raise mental health awareness. A soccer jamboree that was well-promoted, open to the public, and with a large number of young adults in attendance, was a great way to connect people with that information and the important work of the Jordan Porco Foundation.
Community Mental Health Advocate of the Year
Bear’s Restaurant Group
Bear’s Restaurant Group is comprised of 4 Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ locations (Windsor, South Windsor, Hartford and New Haven) and The Blind Pig Pizza Company (Hartford). These locally owned restaurants first opened in 2013 in Windsor, CT and quickly grew with the loyal support of Connecticut residents.
Since opening, Bear’s has been committed to serving the local community and does so by supporting many non-profits and philanthropic initiatives each year. The mission at Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ is simple, everyone who walks through their doors is either already a friend, or will be.
In December 2019 they hosted their inaugural Bear’s Rock & Row 4 Life, benefitting the Jordan Porco Foundation, in loving memory of one of their own, Sean Brennan.
This engaging event, held in partnership with local CrossFit gyms, is a catalyst for change, beginning more concerted, collective efforts to proactively help people in the restaurant industry who are struggling to reach out for help.
In rowing they’re showing their unwavering commitment to supporting their employees’ mental health—helping to create a message of hope for those who need help the most.
Student Mental Health Advocate of the Year
Ethan is a student at Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) in Enfield, CT. Ethan has the pleasure of being the former President of the Campus Activities Board, an officer for the Phi Theta Kappa Honors society, and a volunteer for Hartford Hospital. He is passionate about medicine and wellness.
Ethan is the epitome of student advocacy for mental health on campus. In addition to his participation in Jordan Porco Foundation programs like Fresh Check Day and Nine out of Ten Ambassadors.
He also spearheaded a series of mental health programs on campus, including a mental health art show and QPR suicide prevention gatekeeper training for students.
The ACC campus student body has become more kind, more giving, and more supportive of each other because of Ethan’s efforts.
Ethan is working towards becoming a Physician’s Assistant in an emergency department. He will be transferring to Westfield State University.
Outstanding Fresh Check Day Campus
Knox College, Illinois
Knox College is a nationally ranked liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, that provides a personalized education in a diverse and vibrant community. They held their third Fresh Check Day on September 26, 2019. Fresh Check Day at Knox College purposefully represents the many student voices and faces of their campus community in important and meaningful ways. In an effort to make sure students who are marginalized would get heard, Knox took great care in selecting student groups and campus departments to staff each booth and introduced additional booths like “Breaking Barriers,” geared towards reducing the stigma of seeking services for students of color.
Janice Fletcher Memorial Award
Julia is the Senior Manager of Outreach at Westfield State University in Massachusetts. Julia knew she was interested in social work since her teenage years. Julia recalls staying up late talking with one of her best friends, dreaming up plans for how they would change high school, if it was up to them. This strong desire to use knowledge to improve things is what propelled Julia to find a career she loves in social work, outreach, and counseling.
She has been coordinating the annual Fresh Check Day at WSU since their first in 2016 and is admired for her impeccable organization and attention to detail, maximizing student attendance, and dedication to the students she serves. Julia has been a strong voice in the community for the Jordan Porco Foundation and an incredible champion for Fresh Check Day. She’s appeared in media interviews and supported the production of a Fresh Check Day in action video, filmed at Westfield State. She has also been a valued resource to other Fresh Check Day coordinators looking for planning insight and advice.
If she could give advice to herself back when she was in college, it would be to know that it is okay to take advantage of the Counseling Center, and it doesn’t take away your sense of being an independent adult – instead, it makes you feel more like a grown-up when you take the initiative to solve a problem or make something better. Julia adds that that no one has to go through difficult times alone.
Former College Administrator
Matt has been involved in mental health awareness and suicide prevention since he served as an RA at Saint Michael’s College as an undergraduate. Since then, he has brought his skills as an advocate for students and as a case manager for students of concern to multiple colleges and universities across the country. He has since moved back to Massachusetts to pursue other opportunities near his family.
Mercedes Mckelvie is currently a high school special education teacher in Bridgeport, CT. She completed her undergraduate work at Central Connecticut State University where she earned her BA in English. She is currently attending Southern Connecticut State University where she is completing her Masters in Special Education with a concentration in Emotional and Behavioral Disorders.
High School Senior
Tricia is currently a senior at Nathan Hale Ray High School in East Haddam, CT. Next year she will be attending the University of Tampa to further explore her passion for filmmaking. She’s so thankful to be connected to the Jordan Porco Foundation as they have not only helped her share her story but they also taught her ways to handle the stress that life brings.
High School Senior
Milan Chand is a 17-year old senior at Newtown High School. He is very passionate about mental health, working on the CT State Board of Education, interning at The Avielle Foundation, and researching in a clinical lab at Yale to advocate for awareness. Along with this he is very involved in his community as he leads many organizations such as Families United in Newtown. Following graduation Milan will attend the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Neuroscience.
High School Senior
Keith Berrouet is an 18 year old senior at Sports and Medical Sciences Academy in Hartford, CT. He enjoys listening to music and spending time with his family. Keith is the third oldest of 6, and was born in Bronx, New York, then moved to Connecticut when he was 5 years old. He’s always had a passion for running track, and he is the 2019-2020 55 meter all state champion and state open champion. Running is also his go-to coping skill. It’s helped him throughout his life, especially when he began to struggle with his mental health. His eagerness for choosing mental health and suicide prevention for his Senior Capstone project is knowing that talking about this subject and educating his peers can, and will, help save lives.
Additional Ways to Give to the Jordan Porco Foundation
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