Liberation Programs' fourth annual Spirit of Hope Benefit will take place on Thursday at the Hilton Stamford Hotel. Spirit of Hope co-chairmen Sherry Sopin and Elizabeth Needham are pleased to announce that Andrew McDonald, general counsel to the governor, is the recipient of the Spirit of Hope Award for his dedication to the mission of Liberation Programs, and for his commitment and work in making the community a better place. McDonald served as a state senator for many years, championing the causes of those less fortunate.

Proceeds from the event will help Liberation Programs create 18 units of permanent supportive housing for single women and their children in Norwalk at 4 Elmcrest Terrace. With housing for low-income families in high demand, this project will be a significant addition to the current availability of housing. The site will also provide live-in rehab treatment for 12 single mothers and their children or women who are pregnant.

Special honored guests for the evening include the Bantle and Walker families -- Gini Bantle, Robert and Lori Bantle, and Terri and Chris Walker. Lou Bantle, who died last year, was Liberation Programs' honorary board chairman.

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Bantle championed the agency's initiative to build supportive housing for single mothers in recovery. His investment toward the project included his purchase of the Elmcrest Terrace building as well as making a sizable contribution which enabled the agency to begin the project groundwork.

Louis Bantle, along with his wife, Virginia, were the first to receive Liberation Programs' Spirit of Hope Award for their extraordinary devotion and understanding of the disease of addiction and the possibility of recovery. Bantle's staunch support of recovery services for mothers inspired the agency to allocate proceeds from the annual Spirit of Hope benefit dinner toward this cause. His family will be part of a special unveiling and presentation during the event.

Mary Himes, wife of U.S. Rep Jim Hines, D-4th, is one of a long list of dignitaries and supporters serving as honorary chairmen. Himes recently visited and shared a meal with a group of mothers at Liberation Programs' residential substance abuse treatment facility, Families in Recovery Program, or FIRP as it is know in the community.

"I had a terrific visit to Liberation Programs' FIRP," Himes said. "It was clear that FIRP was providing these women and their children with the tools they'll need to overcome their challenges. Thank you Liberation Programs for the amazing work you do. I am glad to serve as an honorary chairman."

The Spirit of Hope will begin with a reception and silent auction at 6 p.m. and dinner and awards at 7. The event will take place in the Garden Pavilion at the Hilton Hotel, 1 First Stamford Place in Stamford. Tickets are $150 per person and reservations are required. Tickets are available and can be reserved by calling 203-604-1280 or emailing with "SOH" in the subject line.

Liberation Programs Inc. is a nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to providing substance abuse prevention and treatment programs in Fairfield County. Its mission is to empower people and their families to be free of the disease of addiction by providing targeted solutions that restore lives and strengthen the community.

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