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Past Events

2023 American Dream Awards Raises over $45,000 for Scholarship, Health Access, and Social Programs

DANBURY, CT- The Eighth Annual American Dream Awards Gala, hosted by The New American Dream Foundation, Inc. (TNADF), was held last Friday, September 16, at the Amber Room Colonnade, with nearly 300 guests and award winners in attendance.

TNADF's Vice-President, Emanuela Palmares, was the master of ceremonies for the evening, marked by moving speeches and inspirational videos of honorees produced by RmediA of Danbury.

The Gala's theme, "A celebration of American Immigrants," was illustrated with five live musical performances featuring songs honoring each honoree. Singer-songwriter, aka Nora, awarded titles such as "The Voice of Danbury" and "Hudson Valley's Most Talented," serenaded each honoree and moved the audience with her powerhouse vocals.

The award ceremony began with the Rising Star Award, presented to Luanna Barcelos, the daughter of Brazilian immigrants. Barcelos is a 21-year-old freelance artist, muralist, UCONN graduate, and the artist behind the City of Danbury's 45-foot mural celebrating the life and legacy of classical singer and civil rights pioneer Marian Anderson. Barcelo generously created a custom piece of art that was auctioned off at the Gala, donating all proceeds toward TNDF programs.

The Community Hero Award was presented to the Connecticut Institute for Communities, Inc. (CIFC) for its impact on the lives of immigrants in our community. CIFC serves low-and moderate-income individuals and families through a combination of health and education programs regardless of legal status.

American Dream Award $3,000 Scholarship was presented to Adamaris Loja, a major in Management Information Systems at WCSU. Born in San Fernando, Azuay, Ecuador, Loja moved in with her father in the United States at 11 when her mother passed away. The transition was a constant struggle fitting in at school, learning the language, and maintaining her mental health. Loja delivered a moving speech and invited her father to join her on stage so she could thank him for his support.

The event's presenting sponsor, Union Savings Bank, furnished the scholarship.

"If you had told me 11 years ago that I would stand here, in this room filled with so many important people, I would not have believed you," said Loja adding, "I want to thank my dad for everything he has done for me, I want to thank the city of Danbury for welcoming me with open arms."

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the Honorable Judge Dianne Yamin. First elected probate judge in 1990, she made history as the first woman to hold that position in Danbury and the youngest elected judge in the state. Her work as Danbury's probate judge focused on conservatorships, guardianships of the intellectually disabled, psychiatric matters, adoption, and children's matters — and special immigrant juvenile status cases and bringing awareness to the immigrant community about standby guardianship. Tia Murphy, volunteer state president of AARP CT, delivered the honor, followed by a 6-minute video produced by R-Media, on Judge Yamin's reflection on her body of work, which received a standing ovation.

The New American Dream Foundation's mission is to promote our rich immigrant history, highlight all immigrants' cultural, social, and economic contributions across generations, and provide education, health, and civic engagement opportunities. In the pursuit of such effort, TNADF at the Gala:

- Granted $3,000 in an American Dream Scholarship

- Raised $10,000 from ticket sales towards Mission Health Day - A Day of free health screenings and other community services for

the uninsured and the income challenged, hosted by Nuvance Health.

- Raised $34,000 to support The New American Dream Foundation programs, its senior hot meal program, and its newest initiative.

Presented by Mayor Dean Esposito, TNADF president Celia Bacelar-Palmares, executive director Angela Barbosa, and Vice-president Emanuela Palmares, at the end of the evening, revealed a partnership in the creation of The New American Dream Center. The Center will be an in-person resource center to guide and support new immigrants who dream of becoming American citizens in Danbury. The Center is in its final planning phase, and its set to open in 2023. For more information, visit


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