Community members, families, friends and local legislators were among the more than 175 people who filled the auditorium at The Kate in Old Saybrook on Aug. 17 to celebrate the achievements of Vista Life Innovations' three graduating students.
Addressing the Class of 2018 were Keynote Speakers Chris Pallatto, executive director of Valley Shore YMCA in Westbrook, and Doug Shaw, executive director of Soundview Family YMCA in Branford. Both organizations have played an integral role in helping Vista students and members—including the three graduates— lead healthier lifestyles through fitness and nutrition training.
"On behalf of all the employees at the Y and all our members, we want you to know that you've really touched our lives and our hearts," Pallatto told the graduates. "You mean a lot to us. Thank you for letting us be a part of your journey."
Visit Vista's Facebook page to see more photos from the ceremony!
A significant milestone in the lives of Vista students, graduation acknowledges the hard work and success students displayed while in Vista's Discover program, an on-campus transitional program that prepares students to live independently as active and engaged members of the shoreline community. Through the Discover Program, students are engaged in hands-on life skills development and job readiness training to help them live and work in the community.
Upon graduation, the majority of students move into their own homes along the shoreline as members of Vista's Engage Program, where they receive individualized supports to meet their needs.
Among those welcoming the graduates to the next phase of their lives as independent members of the shoreline community was state Rep. Devin Carney (23rd District).
"I know you're going to do great things in your life and for the community," he said. "I look forward to seeing all you accomplish."
Although unable to attend the ceremony, Congressman Joe Courtney, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, and Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop each offered their congratulations in the form personalized certificates or letters of recognition for each graduate.