Pavano pitches mentorship at McGivney breakfast

STRATFORD—“Life changed when my mom signed me up for the McGivney Community Center” said Lehayla Cruz, a recent graduate of Mitchell College and McGivney Center alumna.

Over a hundred friends and supporters of the McGivney Center gathered at Vazzano’s Four Seasons Restaurant in Stratford on Thursday, October 4th for their Annual Celebrity Breakfast, featuring former MLB pitcher Carl Pavano.

The event was their second annual celebrity breakfast, building off of the tremendous success of last year’s gathering, which featured David Cone.

“I feel like every kid should have the same opportunities that I had here. I want every young person that comes through these doors to feel the same way I did every day growing up,” said Cruz, who is currently interning at the Center, with ambitious to run one of her own someday.

The morning started with a short greeting from Robert O’Connor, Board President, who welcomed everyone gathered and then turned the microphone over to Cruz, who shared her experience growing up in Bridgeport and participating in the McGivney Center community. Cruz then thanked all those gathered, particularly the benefactors in the audience.

“You are the reason why kids come here and grow.”

Before breakfast, Msgr. Chris Walsh, who is serving as administrator of St. Charles Parish, delivered the invocation and said grace, asking those in attendance to join him in the prayer of St. Francis, on the occasion of his feast day.

As guests began digging in to their bacon and eggs, Terry O’Connor, the outgoing Executive Director of the McGivney Center and Shehan Center, shared words of thanksgiving with the crowd.

“I am so pleased to see this event continue and grow. The McGivney Center relies on your generosity and support, so I thank you for being here,” O’Connor said as he introduced the keynote speaker, Carl Pavano, to the crowd.

“I am probably amongst the few who moved from Florida to Connecticut and not the other way around,” Pavano joked, “and since winter is fast approaching, my Florida born wife and kids are not happy about that!”

In a 20 minute question and answer session with Terry O’Connor, Pavano shared warm memories of his time with the Yankees, Marlins, Expos, and Twins, offered advice to those with sports ambitions, and shared a passionate argument in favor of good mentorship and coaching.

He also spoke warmly and often about being a “family man,” saying that the “best thing I get to do is be a husband and a father.”

Pavano then thanked all present for their service and dedication to the McGivney Center.

The McGivney Community Center has been fulfilling its mission to provide stimulating and enriching programs that foster academic success and self-esteem to the youth of Bridgeport for the past 26 years. The McGivney Center’s After School Program includes tutoring, gym, computers, arts & crafts, cooking, game room, Friday clubs, and Teen Program.

The McGivney Center, located 338 Stillman Street on the grounds of St. Charles Parish, is an agency of the Diocese of Bridgeport. For information phone: 203.333.2789. On the web:, and on Facebook.