8th Annual American Dream Awards Gala to Celebrate American Immigrants

The New American Dream Foundation Inc. (TNADF), a 501(c)(3) organization, will host its 8th Annual American Dream Awards Gala on Friday, September 16, 2022, at 5:30 PM at the Amber Room Colonnade in Danbury.

8th Annual American Dream Awards Gala to Celebrate American Immigrants


The New American Dream Foundation Inc. (TNADF), a 501(c)(3) organization, will host its 8th Annual American Dream Awards Gala on Friday, September 16, 2022, at 5:30 PM at the Amber Room Colonnade in Danbury.  

Presented by Union Savings Bank, the event will honor remarkable individuals who have contributed to the advancement of the immigrant community. It will feature three community award categories with honorees selected by TNADF, one $3,000 American Dream scholarship, and an exciting announcement about TNADF's plans to help immigrants in the community in partnership with the City of Danbury.




COMMUNITY HERO AWARD – awarded to an institution that has had an impact on the lives of immigrants in our community.

Recipient: Connecticut Institute for Communities, Inc. (CIFC) 

CIFC is a locally based, independent non-profit dedicated to advancing our communities and fostering greater opportunities for low-and moderate-income individuals and families through a combination of health and education programs and housing and economic development projects. It is the only such organization in Western Connecticut. During the pandemic, CIFC administered more than 23,000 COVID-19 tests and 12,000 vaccines to the community.


RISING STAR AWARD – awarded to an immigrant or a child of immigrants making their mark in the community (20-40 years of age)

Recipient: Luana Barcelos 

Daughter of Brazilian immigrants, Barcelos is a 21-year-old freelance artist, and muralist. She was selected and granted an award by the City of Danbury to design and paint a 45-foot mural celebrating the life and legacy of classical singer and civil rights pioneer, Marian Anderson. Barcelos has also painted large-scale murals for the University of Connecticut, Wellmore Behavioral Health, and businesses like Matteo’s Multicultural Market in Danbury, and The Cosmopolitan Salon in Brewster, among many others. She graduated from University of Connecticut in May of this year. ­­­


LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – awarded to an immigrant or decedent of immigrants that has had a lasting impact on the community (50 years of age or older).

Recipient: The Honorable Judge Dianne Yamin

Dianne E. Yamin was elected as probate judge in 1990. She made history as the first woman to hold that position in Danbury and as the youngest elected judge in the state. Since 1990, Yamin has assisted people in various family-related court matters as Danbury's probate judge.

Her work focused on conservatorships, guardianships for the intellectually disabled, psychiatric matters, adoption, and children's matters — and special immigrant juvenile status cases.


Judge Yamin also worked extensively to bring awareness to the immigrant community about standby guardianship. This plan prevents children with undocumented immigrant parents from becoming wards of the state in the event of their parents' deportation. She recently announced her retirement.


AMERICAN DREAM AWARD SCHOLARSHIP - $3,000 awarded to an individual 16 years or older who is an immigrant or a child of immigrants living in the Fairfield County area, who has faced many challenges on their journey to achieve their American Dream. 

Recipient: Adamaris Loja

Born in San Fernando, Azuay, Ecuador, Loja moved in with her father in the United States at 11 years old when her mother passed away. The transition was a constant struggle, fitting in at school, learning the language, and maintaining her mental health. Nonetheless, she persevered, graduating with a 3.8 GPA from Danbury High School. She is now majoring in Management Information Systems at WCSU. The scholarship is furnished by the event's presenting sponsor: Union Savings Bank.

"To receive this award means that all my hard work was not in vain, that I am welcome in this country, and it will prove that the American Dream still lives on by providing me with the help I need to further my career and impact in the community," said Loja.



The theme of this year's Gala, “A celebration of American Immigrants” was inspired by the song ‘King of The City’ by country music star Jennifer Nettles. In the ballad, Nettles champions hard-working American immigrants, inspired by a real-life window-washer who died in the 9/11 attacks. The event will be held 5 days after the 11th anniversary of the attacks.

Nettles told Rolling Stone in an interview that she wanted to "humanize the immigrant story as an American story and allow people a different narrative from what they might be seeing on the news or in their communities."

"Each immigrant wave that has come to our community has made contributions from which we all benefit. Immigrants of past generations have paved the way for immigrants of today. Although their paths to reach our country may differ, they share a common goal - the American Dream." said Celia Bacelar-Palmares, TNADF president, adding, "Our love and commitment to this country is unwavering, like the song says: 'It's true I wasn't born here, but my heart is sworn here...'"


A medley of live musical performances featuring songs honoring the journey of the American Immigrant, including “King Of The City,” will color the awards ceremony, performed by local artist “aka Nora”, CT's Got Talent Second Place winner. Singer-songwriter, aka Nora, is known for her soulful approach to popular songs. Having been awarded titles such as, "The Voice of Danbury" and "Hudson Valley's Most Talented," she is recognized for her powerhouse vocals across the tri-state area. In recent years, aka Nora has broken into the world of music streaming. Her original music can now be found across all streaming platforms.



Tickets include a three-course dinner, dancing, live entertainment, and the inspirational American Dream Awards ceremony, all with social distancing and COVID-19 safety protocols. Ticket sales will benefit Mission Health Day – a day of free health screenings and other community services for the uninsured and the income challenged hosted by Nuvance Health.  Ticket sales also will support The New American Dream Foundation programs, including its Hot Meal program.


At the start of the pandemic in 2020, TNADF created its Hot Meal program, which has served children, families, and seniors in Danbury with over 35,000 meals purchased from The Amber Room Colonnade. In 2021, the program evolved to a Hot Meal program for seniors, delivering 650 meals to seniors living in tax credit communities in Danbury.

“They are the sons and daughters of the previous generation of immigrants, in which every new community stands on the shoulders. Our hot meal program became our way to give back to those that helped built our community,” said Emanuela Palmares, TNADF vice-president, adding, “We ask the community to join us on September 16 to support this important work.”

To buy tickets, tables, and ads in the event booklet, visit www.americandreamgala.com.



About the Gala & The New American Dream Foundation

The New American Dream Foundation, Inc. (TNADF) is a 501(c)(3) organization created to promote our nation's rich immigrant history, highlighting the cultural, social, and economic contributions of all immigrants, and the core American values of equal opportunity, progress, and freedom in the areas of education, health, and civic engagement.

In April of 2020, considering the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on families in the Danbury area, The New American Dream Foundation (TNADF) postponed its annual scholarship gala. TNADF placed all its efforts on supporting the community's immediate needs as we fight the virus by creating its TNADF COVID-19 Hot Meal Program. Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the program has served children, families, and seniors in Danbury with over 35,000 meals purchased from The Amber Room Colonnade, the official venue for its annual Gala. For more information, visit our website: www.thenewamericandreamfoundation.org.