Helen Lavin, Director of Homeless Outreach and Development at The Connection has been selected as the 2014 recipient of The Partnership for Strong Communities’ Reverend Richard Schuster Advocacy Award. This award is given to an individual who shows a strong commitment to preventing and ending homelessness and working to raise awareness about the needs of individuals and families in danger of becoming homeless.
Helen has demonstrated true leadership in advocating for supportive housing and has made ending homelessness her life’s work. As part of her work with the Continuum of Care networks in Bridgeport and Middletown, she has chaired the Point in Time Count in Bridgeport, has provided testimony before the State Legislature and has presented at local and national conferences to advocate for the needs of the homeless. She chairs the Supportive Housing for Families Annual Award Ceremony and is co-chair of District 1 Constituency Building Committee for The Connection.
Helen is relentless in her pursuit of her passions. The Pastor of St. Paul’s Church in Fairfield recently said, “When Helen Lavin calls, you eventually are going to say yes. You might say no at first, maybe even a few times, but she is going to make the same request in 40 different ways without you realizing it and one of those times you will say, “Yes.” So when she calls, it’s really just a matter of how long you want to spend in the conversation with her before you come around and agree to help those she is advocating for. And at the end of it all, you’ll be glad you did!”
Helen began her career in Bridgeport almost fourteen years ago with The Connection’s Supportive Housing Program. She obtained her MSW from Fordham and was promoted to Program Director providing clinical and housing oversight of the Supportive Housing for Families® (SHF®) Program, as well as the Eddy Shelter in Middletown. Helen is currently developing a self-sufficiency track for families in the SHF® program.
Reverend Schuster, who passed away in August 2009, was a true leader in advancing and advocating for supportive housing. He made ending homelessness his life’s work for over 40 years and led St. Luke’s LifeWorks as Executive Director for 22 years. A founder of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness and the Connecticut AIDS Resource Coalition, Reverend Schuster was also a founding member of the Reaching Home Steering Committee, which he chaired for three years.