HARTFORD – Sisters of St. Joseph Maureen Faenza and Theresa Fonti, co-founders and co-directors of the House of Bread, were honored at a breakfast in Hartford’s Bond Ballroom Nov. 5 with Hartford Business Journal’'s Lifetime Achievement Awards.
They joined award recipients Edwin “Ted” May III, founder and chair of the First Tee of Connecticut; Joe Savage, president of Webster Bank; and Richard Sugarman, founding president of Hartford Promise, a scholarship provider.
Sisters Maureen and Theresa founded House of Bread on Feb. 4, 1980, on High Street, when they began serving coffee and stale donuts to a handful of Hartford’s poor. From its present location at 1453 Main St., it now includes a thrift shop and addresses such needs as hunger, shelter, transitional living, affordable housing, education and job training.
“I grew up in a family where hard work was very important,” Sister Maureen told the more than 250 people attending the annual breakfast, which was sponsored by CohnReznick, an accounting, tax and advisory group; and the Pita Group, House of Bread’s marketing group, which nominated the sisters.
Sister Theresa said that when they began 35 years ago, they didn’t foresee that it would grow from 17 people the first day to more than 1,800 meals a week today.
“We serve over 500 children every afternoon,” she said, referring to their Kids’ Café, operated in conjunction with local Boys and Girls Clubs. “We are a four-star soup kitchen. The dream unfolded because the need was here, and we responded to the need.”
During a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Ted Sergi, founding CEO and president of the Connecticut Science Center, Sister Maureen said, “I think we need to offer opportunities, to speak up for the young people and let them know that there is a place for them to give of themselves.”
Sister Theresa added, “I tell myself every day that I should meet everybody where he or she is.”
Dr. Sergi asked Sister Maureen for some final thoughts. Sister Maureen said, “Laugh more, worry less and appreciate every day.”
Dr. Sergi turned to the audience and said, “Take a minute to write that down.”
The event was moderated by Joe Zwiebel, president and publisher of Hartford Business Journal; Donna Collins, the Journal’'s associate publisher; and Ed Kindelan, regional managing partner with New England CohnReznick.
For more information about House of Bread, go to www.hobread.org.