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2007 Jumpstart                                 
Hartford teen honored with the United Way Community Campaign’s 14th Annual Courage Award

Hartford, CT – The United Way Community Campaign presented its 14th Annual Courage Award to Brittany Santiago Smith, 16, of Hartford on June 21, during the organization’s Jumpstart campaign training luncheon held at St. Joseph College in West Hartford. Smith, who just completed her sophomore year at Hartford’s AI Prince Technical High School, credited COMPASS Youth Collaborative, a youth development organization and United Way partner agency, for guiding her down the right path and making her success a possibility.

As a sixth grader at Hartford’s Belizzi Middle School, Smith was regularly pressured to join gangs. She was an underperforming student with a poor reputation among teachers and had a propensity towards fighting. Through the COMPASS Youth Collaborative, Smith learned conflict resolution, anger management and study skills. Today, Brittany is an honor roll student, mentor, peer mediator, and part-time employee of COMPASS, working with 15 students daily. “Without COMPASS, I probably wouldn’t be in school or my grades would be down,” Smith said. “I’d probably be in the streets, thinking I’m tough.”

On winning The Courage Award, Smith was both honored and reflective. “The Courage Award means a lot to me,” Smith said. “I overcame obstacles that seemed so big, but I made a change [in my life] and it’s very satisfying.”

2007 United Way Community Campaign Courage Award
(Pictured from left to right) Susan B. Dunn, president and CEO of United Way of the Capital Area; Brittany Santiago Smith, 2007 United Way Community Campaign Courage Award recipient; Catalina Santiago, Smith’s mother and Brad Drazen, NBC 30 News Anchor, emceed the Jumpstart.

The Courage Award was established in 1994 to recognize an individual who has triumphed over adversity with the assistance of a United Way Community Campaign supported agency. Smith was nominated by Robert Pawloski, Executive Director of COMPASS Youth Collaborative.

Jumpstart 2007 trained over 200 workplace coordinators from over 100 local companies who will lead the Community Campaign in the fall. Chuck Shivery, President, Chairman and CEO of Northeast Utilities is chairman of the 2007 United Way Community Campaign. Campaign contributions are invested in health and human services programs that change lives and improve community conditions in the 40-town Capital Region. In 2006, nearly $26.8 million was raised through the Campaign. The 2007 Campaign goal will be announced on Friday, September 7.


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