On Thursday, November 17th, 2016 Girls Incorporated of Taunton celebrated life, community and leadership at the fifth annual Love of Life Event. In dedication to the life and commitment of former Board of Trustees Vice President, Darlene Costa Brown, Girls Inc. honored the service of Wendy Berry and Michaeline Saladyga and awarded a leadership scholarship to Cleo Silva.
Costa Brown’s impact on Girls Inc. and its members was felt through her volunteer instruction of the Economic Literacy curriculum and her service on the Board of Trustees. As vice president, Darlene hoped to lead the organization in shaping a future that was both secure and dynamic. Her enthusiasm and fierce dedication for enriching the lives of the members continues to infuse the mission and aids in carrying on her life’s work.
In tribute to Costa Brown, Girls Inc. of Taunton honored Wendy Berry and Michaeline Saladyga co-founders and co-directors of Taunton Area Community Table (TacT) for their passionate and unwavering love and support of the Taunton community.
Both Wendy and Michaeline have over 10 years experience together working in traditional soup kitchens, and less than two years ago decided to open a new “meal center” TacT. The mission of the organization is”dedicated to providing delicious, healthy meals to individuals and families in a warm, friendly and safe atmosphere in an under served section of Taunton.”
Not your typical soup kitchen, TacT provides a café style setting to children and families with no questions asked. On “Family Café” night, children are provided with coloring books and crayons for after-dinner entertainment. Wendy and Michaeline have created this atmosphere with an all volunteer driven team. Both women’s generous hearts and pure love for the Taunton Community makes us proud to have honored them at this year’s event.
Family, friends and colleagues of both Wendy, Michaeline and Darlene joined together at Girls Inc. of Taunton to celebrate Costa Brown’s Life, Wendy & Michaeline’s service, and the presentation of the 2016 Dr. Darlene Costa Brown Leadership Scholarship. The award, recognizing the exceptional leadership skills and the innate qualities that inspire others to be strong, smart and bold, was presented to Cleo Silva. This year, Cleo will work with leadership staff and board members in mentoring her in her desire to one day become a dentist or veterinarian. She will explore the worlds of animal science and dentistry.
Last year’s Dr. Darlene Costa Brown Leadership Scholar, Kayla Levesque, was also in attendance. Kayla worked throughout the year to “define Kayla” by gaining confidence and inspiring others. She also had the opportunity to explore her interest in owning a bakery. Kayla visited a local woman-owned baker, The Cake Diner where she was able to see behind the scenes and get to learn more about owning a bakery on a day to day basis. Both the 2012 Dr. Darlene Costa Brown Leadership Scholar, Sophia Branco, and the 2014 recipient, Avery LaValle were also in attendance.
The presentation of an “Exceptional Volunteer Award” was given to Miss Anne Lee who volunteers as the cooking instructor at Girls Inc. where she teaches fun and exciting cooking classes. When she’s not teaching, you can usually find her at Girls Inc. jumping through hula hoops and dancing with the girls.
Highlights of the event included the sharing of Kayla Levesque’s confident and inspiring speech about her scholarship year; citations were presented by the office of State Representative Shaunna O’Connell, Mayor Thomas Hoye’s office and Senator Pacheco’s office recognizing Wendy and Michaeline’s commitment to service and leadership; and citations were presented by the office of State Representative Shaunna O’Connell, Mayor Thomas Hoye’s office and Senator Pacheco’s office recognizing Cleo’s exceptional leadership skills.