On March 8th 2012, Turkish Cultural Center Connecticut and Peace Islands Institute co-organized a Friendship Dinner at Hartford Marriott Downtown Hotel. The Friendship Dinner’s theme was “Poverty, Hunger and Obesity”. Some of the distinguished guests that attended the night included Congressman Chris Murphy, Governor Dannel Malloy, President of Quinnipiac University John L. Lahey, Speaker of the House of Representatives Christopher G. Donovan, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin Ryan, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Marie Lopez Kirkley-Bey, Connecticut Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, Quinnipiac University Vice President for Academic Affairs Mark Thompson, Connecticut State Boar of Education Chariman Allan B. Taylor, Mayor of Hamden Scott Jackson, Mayor of Putnam Peter Place, several State representatives including Rep. Prasad Srinavasan, Rep. Steve Mikutel, and Rep. Steve Rovero, Yale University Dean of Diversity Michelle Nearon, Eastern Connecticut State University Dean of Continuing Education Rochelle Gimenez, former president of MCCT Dr. Reza Mansoor, former president of ISNA Dr. Ingrid Mattson, and Columbus House Executive Director Allison Cunningham.
The event began with a reception. During the reception Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy addressed the guests. Then, Connecticut Commisioner of Education Stefan Pryor received the “Educator of the Year” award from Turkish Cultural Center President Nebi Demirsoy. In his acceptance remark Commissioner Pryor pointed out that they are working to improve the education quality for all Connecticut students.
The event then continued at the dinner hall. President Demirsoy delivered his welcome remark and then presented the “Statesman of the Year” award to Connecticut Congressman Chris Murphy. In his acceptance speech Congressman Murphy stressed that Turkey is an important strategic partner of United States praised and praised the Turkish-American community in Connecticut for enriching the life in Connecticut. During the dinner the guests enjoyed a live music performance.
After the dinner Dr. Kelly Brownell of Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity delivered the keynote speech about the obesity epidemic in the United States and around the world. Dr. Brownell talked about the causes and possible remedies for diet induced obesity. After Dr. Brownell’s speech Dr. Jon Pahl from The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia took stage and talked about the Hizmet Movement and its efforts to fight poverty and hunger all over the world.
The night ended with Dr. Stephen L. Peterson receiving the “Community Service Award” for his work at Abraham’s Tent. Dr. Peterson said that he is accepting this award on behalf of all the staff and volunteers at Columbus House in New Haven and all the people that made Abraham’s Tent possible. He stressed the importance of finding and fighting the causes of homelessness.