Published in The Day on November 28, 2018

By Erica Moser ( | Day staff writer

Norwich — 'Tis the season for annual meetings, and the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut went particularly festive this year.

While previous meetings have included a keynote speaker, this one featured performances from the Eastern Connecticut Symphony String Ensemble, Eastern Connecticut Ballet and the 3 O'Clock Jazz Combo from Eastern Connecticut State University.

It's fitting for an organization committed to helping both children and the arts. The Community Foundation said it has given $383,777 to Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra and $151,907 to the Eastern Connecticut Ballet in grants over the years.

The annual meeting was held Wednesday evening at The Spa at Norwich Inn.

The Community Foundation awarded $6.7 million in grants and scholarships in 2017, and this year, it established 21 new funds, bringing the total to over 500.

The Community Foundation helped create the Connecticut Funder Collaborative for Civic Engagement, and it took its Thriving Communities conversation series to local libraries.

"In my view, libraries and parks are great equalizers," President Maryam Elahi said. "No matter what your race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, when you walk into a library, you have equal access."

Elahi presented awards to Carol Williams and Laura Moorehead, who each have been instrumental in a different Women and Girls Fund.

Williams said it's been inspiring to hear Elahi "talk about the difference between philanthropy and love for humans, and just charity, just putting the band-aids on."

Elahi also recognized founding trustee Myron Hendel, who died last week at age 90.

Leaving the Community Foundation's board of trustees are Ulysses Hammond, Steve Larcen and Govind Menon; joining are Peg O'Shea and Nick Fortson. The incoming executive committee is Chair David Schulz, Vice Chair Lynn Malerba, Secretary Mary Broderick and Treasurer Ed Higgins.

Looking ahead, Schulz said he'd love to see more donors and more applications from the northern part of the Community Foundation's 42-town region.