The Women’s Heart Wellness Committee will honor Barbara Casagrande, of Oxford, with the Caring Heart Award at the 13th Annual Women’s Heart Wellness Caring Heart Award Ceremony on Thurs., April 26 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Birchwoods at Oak Lane Country Club, 1027 Racebrook Road, Woodbridge.
The Caring Heart Award recognizes an individual from the Lower Naugatuck Valley who made significant contributions to the wellness of an individual or the community at large by his or her actions and/or volunteerism.
Known by the children in Ansonia as “Ms. C,” Casagrande dedicated most of her life to working in the Valley as a paraprofessional at the former Ripton School in Shelton, and as the education coordinator at the Ansonia Housing Authority at the Tinney Community Center. At the Center she managed the afterschool program, taught GED classes, ran summer camps and secured grant funding for programs.
Throughout her career, she regularly involved herself with back-to-school rallies, clothing drives and other community outreach, and was especially influential in the lives of Ansonia teenagers, many of whom she continues to keep in touch with.
“Her overall mission is to be a bridge to the community,” Diane Stroman, vice president of TEAM Inc., wrote in Casagrande’s nomination. “Barbara is an individual who gives of herself unselfishly, works tirelessly and gives 150 percent of herself in whatever she does. She has volunteered in many capacities in the Valley community and does so with a smile that can light up a room.”
Following her retirement, Casagrande partnered with Restoring Hope Ministries, which focuses on feeding the homeless and providing school supplies, clothing and a school success incentive program to the Valley children. She helped open the Hope Center in Ansonia, a volunteer-based adult education and job training center.
She is also a volunteer for the Greater Valley Salvation Army, and serves as a deaconess at Living Springs Christian Fellowship in Seymour and was the coordinator got the TEAM, Inc. 2017 Toys 4 Kids drive, donating 200 hours to the program. She is currently assisting at the Elizabeth Street location and is volunteering with the VITA tax program.
Casagrande received the 2012 Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Gold Seal Award.
The Caring Heart Award Ceremony is open to the public. The theme of the event is “Who’s That Woman in the Mirror?” The evening will feature a panel of health experts discussing women’s health and answering questions related to healthy aging. There will also be a health fair with information on overall wellness and more. WTNH Health Reporter Jocelyn Maminta will be the MC for the evening.
The Women’s Heart Wellness Committee consists of healthcare professionals, heart patients and women from throughout the Valley communities. The primary focus of the group is to increase heart health awareness among women, empower them to love and save their hearts, and ensure they are provided the means to do so through education and rehabilitation. Membership is open to all interested persons.