The Center for Women and Families’ annual luncheon features Dave Pelzer, speaking about survival after abuse, a subject he lived while growing up with an abusive mom.

Pelzer is a living testament of a self-made man. As a child, he feared for his life, but had the resilience to overcome extreme obstacles to become the man he is today, inspiring others to lead fulfilling lives.

On Thursday, Sept. 26, beginning at 11:30 a.m., at the Waterview in Monroe, we all have the chance to hear his story of survival and hope at the 16th annual Speaking of Women luncheon, The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County’s biggest fund-raiser of the year. Proceeds from the event will help The Center continue its work of advocacy, education and crisis services for those shattered by domestic abuse, sexual assault and bullying.

Pelzer has dedicated his life to helping others become the best that they can be. “Your experiences — the good, the bad and the ugly — are what make you,” Pelzer says. “No person is without conflict. But it is how you deal with those conflicts that determine who you are.”

In addition to his motivational speeches, Pelzer is the author of seven books, five of which are New York Times bestsellers. His first, A Child Called It, recounts his life as a child, when he was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother, a mother who played tortuous games that left him nearly dead. It is the first of a trilogy that includes The Lost Boy and A Man Named Dave. His latest book, Moving Forward, suggests ways for readers to let go of their pasts and use negative experiences to make them stronger.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Dave Pelzer speak at our luncheon,” says Debra Greenwood, CEO/President of The Center. “His message is everlasting and one that is important for us all to hear. With the needed resources, such as the ones The Center provides, survival after trauma is possible.

“Speaking of Women is our most important event of the year, the one on which we rely to provide us with the needed funds to help those shattered by domestic violence and sexual assault,” she adds. “We encourage everyone to attend. Even if you have never heard of Dave Pelzer, once you listen to him speak, he will stay in your memory for years to come.”

In addition to Pelzer’s speech, The Center will unveil important news at the luncheon, which will improve our core services: turning victims of domestic violence and sexual assault into survivors in the six towns The Center serves, Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull and educating children about ways to build healthy relationships without bullying and teen dating violence.

All proceeds from the luncheon support The Center’s services, including 24-hour hotlines in English and Spanish, an emergency shelter, support groups, community education, counseling, and advocacy to navigate medical, legal, and government processes related to domestic and sexual violence.

Title Sponsors for this year’s event include People’s United Bank, People’s United Wealth Management and Elizabeth M. Pfriem.

For anyone interested in attending or becoming a corporate sponsor, contact Sarah Lubarsky at 203-334-6154, ext. 31, or slubarsky@cwfefc.org. Cost is $175 per ticket, which includes lunch.