Kensington group helping disabled sets Thursday fundraiser

Published on Sunday, 22 October 2017 21:53
Written by Charles Paullin

Staff Writer

BERLIN - A Berlin resident battling cancer and running a non-profit helping people with intellectual or developmental disabilities is hosting a happy hour fundraiser this week.

Community Navigators Inc., based in Kensington, is hosting its second annual Happy Hour Fundraiser Thursday, Oct. 26 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Taphouse 150, 150 Sebethe Drive, Cromwell.

The event will benefit CNI, which was founded by Berlin resident Larissa Gionfriddo in August 2015, and advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), “helping them design rewarding lives and find meaningful employment within their communities,” a release announcing the event stated.

“We believe strongly that ‘one size does not fit all’ when it comes to individuals with disabilities,” said Gionfriddo. “We strive to make sure that each individual’s hopes and dreams are taken into consideration and they are allowed to build the life they want within their community.”

CNI’s clients include a 31-year-old Southington man who is starting a dog-walking business and, a 37-year-old Cromwell woman who has her own social media business, the release stated.

At the event, Gionfriddo will discuss the CNI’s Breast Cancer Initiative.

She started the initiative this past summer after dismissing a lump she found in her breast because she was 29 at the time and the lump was squishy, unlike the typical hard breast cancer lump. After receiving a diagnosis in February 2016 and undergoing further tests, she learned in April 2016 that her cancer had spread and become terminal - Stage IV metastatic breast cancer.

She quickly learned all she could about chemotherapy, hormone treatments, immunotherapy and holistic treatments.

She wondered, if she could hardly understand what the doctors were telling her, how could someone with an intellectual or developmental disability?

“I have advocated for this population all my professional career,” said Gionfriddo, 31. “I didn’t choose to have cancer, but if having this disease can help me help others, thanks to my experience assisting individuals with I/DD and my new understanding of cancer, it will give my fight purpose.”

CNI is also conducting a three-pronged survey of people with I/DD; families and guardians of people with I/DD; and medical providers. The responses will become part of a database of information and people with I/DD and breast cancer that CNI and the 33 Foundation will use to educate and support those people, the release stated.

Pizza and drink specials will be available at the happy hour, with drawings for prizes including a three-month gym membership, a liquor basket and gift cards. Suggested donation at the door is $25.

Anyone interested in getting involved as a sponsor or volunteer for the event is asked to contact Bonnie Phillips at

Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin, General News on Sunday, 22 October 2017 21:53. Updated: Sunday, 22 October 2017 21:55.