The family of Ana Grace Márquez-Greene launched the Ana Grace Project of Klingberg Family Centers on October 22, to honor their daughter’s life that ended at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. The project’s mission is to promote love, connection, and community for every child and family.
“The Ana Grace Project is about honoring the way Ana lived, not how she died,” said Nelba Márquez-Greene, Ana’s mother and a licensed marriage and family therapist. She approached Klingberg Family Centers about partnering with the family on the project. “Together we created The Ana Grace Project at Klingberg Family Centers, a transformative initiative for every child and family based on the belief that love, connection, and community are the antidotes to violence,” said Ms Márquez-Greene.
The core of the project will be The Center for Community and Connection. The center’s goal is to identify the most effective ways to build community and interpersonal connection to prevent violence and promote recovery. This will be accomplished through research, practical tools, professional development, and public policy. The center will help build a shared body of knowledge for community members, parents, and, professionals to create their own roles in building connections that will enable love to win.
The center’s inaugural initiative will be a daylong conference at the University of Hartford on December 2, called “Love Wins — A Conference Promoting Love, Community and Connection for Every Child and Family.” The conference will bring together professionals, community members, and those who care to learn and establish a community to build the foundation for the Ana Grace Project’s ongoing efforts. The Love Wins Conference will unite the resources of the Klingberg Family Centers, the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University, Western Connecticut State University, Bruce D. Perry, MD, PhD, and other invited guests. It is sponsored, in part, by Stanley Black & Decker.
Keynote speaker Dr Bruce Perry is recognized worldwide for his work on the essential power of love and empathy in healing. He is the Senior Fellow of The ChildTrauma Academy, a not-for-profit organization based in Houston, Texas, and adjunct professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. Dr Perry has appeared on Oprah, CNN, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and other programs as an expert in the area of neuroscience, and has been cited as such in Newsweek, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. He is one of the authors of The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog.
“The goal of the Ana Grace Project at Klingberg Family Centers is to identify effective ways for all members of the community to build their own approaches to creating interpersonal connections to prevent violence and promote recovery,” said Ms Márquez-Greene. “We chose to partner with Klingberg Family Centers because of its compassionate, diverse, and deep history serving children and their families. For over 100 years, it has gathered extensive experience with those traumatized by a variety of tragic circumstances. In addition, my work for them allowed me to see, first-hand, their compassion and respect for every child and their family.”
“We were honored and humbled when Nelba approached us to partner with her family to create something positive from their tragic loss,” said Steven A. Girelli, PhD, Klingberg’s president and CEO. “Throughout our history, our mission has been to extend hope and healing to children and families whose lives have been traumatized. We are dedicated to building healing relationships that empower children and families to reach their full potential. The Ana Grace Project at Klingberg Family Centers is a natural fit with that history and mission,” he said.
“Our family, including my husband, Jimmy, and our son, Isaiah, has dedicated itself to creating real solutions to the kind of violence that took Ana’s life,” said Ms Márquez-Greene. “The Ana Grace Project is the outcome of that dedication. Our hope as a family is to invest in creating solutions that will draw people away from violence and replace it with the powerful love and connection that can only be found in a healthy community of caring.”
Reservations for the “Love Wins” conference are on a first-come, first-reserved basis. Registration deadline is November 22. To register, go to www.AnaGraceProject.org.
The Ana Grace Project is a program of Klingberg Family Centers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations are tax deductible, as allowed by law. 100 percent of proceeds will go directly to The Ana Grace Project.
Klingberg Family Center’s main campus is located in a residential section of New Britain. The organization also offers community services from offices in the Colt neighborhood of Hartford.