OCTOBER 18, 2017
2017 Polaris Winners
|Cheryl and Jamie “Bear” McDonald are not only owners of one of the fastest growing restaurant businesses in the state, they personify dedication to both quality and the community. Starting with Bear’s Smokehouse in Windsor, South Windsor and Hartford, they have opened three other restaurants this year. And their community focus includes a commitment to hire ex-offenders, raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour for “non-tip” employees and significant support of many local charities.|
|Iran Nazario is a high school dropout and former gang member who overcame many hardships, including jail time, to become an inspirational nonprofit leader in Hartford. Today he is president of the Peace Center of Connecticut and was most recently with COMPASS Youth Collaborative Inc., positions that have allowed him to work with young people to prevent gangs, reduce violence and find peaceful paths forward.|
|Ronit Shoham is the driving force behind many remarkable projects for young people and others in need. She is a whirlwind of activity who has helped catalyze such initiatives as creation of the Miracle League of Connecticut (which enables children with physical and mental challenges to enjoy playing baseball), Jonathan’s Dream Re-Imagined (rebuilding one of America’s first inclusive, accessible play spaces) and The Underground (a safe and secure location for teenagers to congregate, communicate and grow together).|
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