The Dorothy Awards evolved from a predecessor event, the one-time “Midwinter’s Night Soiree,” a formal event in partnership with MCC New Haven. The following year, the Dorothy Awards were born. The event, which was designed to recapture the excitement of the formal events of years gone by, gave the Center a unique opportunity to recognize those in the community making a difference, while at the same time evolving into the Center’s biggest annual fundraising effort. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the Center relies on the Dorothy Awards as a major source of its annual operating budget.
The first year started off with a bang with a huge turnout and support at the Belvedere. The second year’s event was relocated at the last minute to Fantasia after a booking snafu, a decision that has turned into a long-term partnership with the venue. The event initially had local celebrity hosts, including by Channel 3 Meteorologist Scot Haney, WNPR Radio Personality Faith Middleton, and Frank and Claire Criscuolo of Claire’s Corner Copia, before turning to Center founder Frank DeMayo. Sister Funk performed at the first four events, with Deborah Wang and Fullsound Band taking the music reins for five years before passing the baton to Dark Anjel Entertainment, who keeps the dancefloor moving today.
In the intervening years since its creation, the event has grown into a Center and state tradition, attracting more than 200 guests to recent events and raising more than $125,000 towards the Center’s operating expenses. The Center has used the finances to maintain a community space, along with offering programs and groups that serve the community at large. Thanks to the ongoing success of the Dorothy Awards, the Center is beginning to build towards and achieve some of its longer-term goals, including acquiring a permanent home for the Center and building a scholarship fund.
The Dorothy Awards is the Center’s signature event, and attendees always find something to take away.