31st Annual Founders' Awards

The Founders’ Awards were established to recognize those that exemplify the principles and philosophy of the founders of Marrakech. Those qualities include commitment, dedication, a “can-do” attitude, and involvement in a visionary project aimed at creating positive change in the community. We see those who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to people with disabilities, people with socioeconomic barriers, and to the community at large as helping Marrakech further carry out our own mission and vision.

In addition, we also recognize our employees who are celebrating milestone anniversaries, from 5 years to 35 years of service! Their dedication to the people we support is awe-inspiring on a daily basis. One of these employees who is also a graduate of our Academy for Human Service Training is selected each year to also receive our Academy Award. This year, the Academy Award will go to Viola Bland, a 20-year employee of Marrakech!

While we will not be holding the ceremony this year, we still plan to recognize this year’s honorees. In celebration of Marrakech’s 50th anniversary, our 2021 Founders’ Awards will be going to the people and the organizations that helped Marrakech get started back in 1971. Our organization would not be here today, 50 years later, if not for the following:

  • Dwight Hall at Yale | Center for Public Service and Social Justice – Herb Cahoon connected our founders to the Regional Center at the time, and also provided the first grant to pilot the residential services. Participation in Best Buddies and the development of our Association of Artisans to Cane years later also stemmed from Dwight Hall initiatives.
  • Margot Conte – Representing the Regional Center staff, who helped motivate and guide Susan and Francie in their efforts to innovate
  • Valerie Chain – The first resident of Marrakech, who Susan and Francie both say was the inspiration for it all
  • Sid Levine – The one and only person to respond to an ad for volunteers and eventually became Board president
  • Community Foundation for Greater New Haven – Provided technical assistance to our founders and consistent funding to Marrakech for 50 years
  • Greater New Haven PROBUS – Members volunteered to help with zoning regulations for our first home and served on the Board. The Club also provided one of the earliest grants to the organization

Follow us on Facebook to learn more about our honorees and about Marrakech’s history!