On March 20, the charitable Foundation of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut distributed more than $88,000 in grant money to area nonprofit administrators, pictured above. | Michael Souza/The Westerly Sun
March 24, 2015 08:43AM
By MICHAEL SOUZA
Sun Staff Writer
WATERFORD — It’s an act that has a large impact on the community and its recipients couldn’t be more appreciative. Unfortunately, sometimes it might get lost in the shuffle of the Irish Parade or other spring events.
But again this year, the charitable Foundation of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut distributed thousands of dollars in grant money to local nonprofit organizations. Specifically, the foundation granted $88,674 to 27 eastern Connecticut nonprofits to improve the quality of life for thousands of children.
“This is one of our proudest accomplishments every year,” said Thomas “Tony” Sheridan, president of the chamber’s board of directors. “A lot of good people can find themselves in bad spots. We have to step up for those who need our help.”
“We are very pleased to hand out these awards today,” said Lou Ziegler, chairman of the Foundation’s board.
According to Ziegler, the process wasn’t easy; the Foundation received 49-applications this past February, a new record. “It was significantly more than we’ve ever had in the past,” he said.
The Foundation raised the money with fundraisers, including the Annual Bowl-a-Thon at Foxwoods in April and the big event, the Annual Holiday Gala held at Mohegan Sun in December.
“It wouldn’t be possible without the help of the Chamber Foundation and the Mohegan Sun and Tribe. Every year they do an outstanding job,” Ziegler said. “The Foundation has no staff so we rely on the help of volunteers and on the chamber.”
Lee Ann Gomes, a social work supervisor at United Community & Family Services in Norwich, presented a video explaining how the nonprofit health center has benefited the organization.
“We’ve been able to increase our ability to evaluate and find treatment for those on the autism scale,” Gomes said.
“For a number of years we’ve been slowly building up to meet this need as we’ve seen more children in our community with this diagnosis. It’s been a pleasure to be a part of the growth and see the impact the community has had on our families.”
Since 2002, the Chamber Foundation has donated more than $1 million to numerous nonprofits.
The 2015 Chamber Foundation grant recipients are: New London Community Orchestra: $1,000; Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Norwich: $1,500; Mystic Aquarium: $1,500; Norwich Community Backpack Program: $1,500; Norwich Human Services: $1,500; The Arc New London County: $1,500; Covenant Shelter of New London: $2,000; The Riverfront Children’s Center: $2,000; Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center: $2,500; Center for Hospice Care of Southeastern Connecticut: $2,500, New England Science & Sailing Foundation: $2,500; Public Library of New London: $2,500; Mayflower Montessori School: $2,871; Madonna Place: $3,000; Thames Valley Council for Community Action: $3,000; High Hopes Therapeutic Riding: $3,000; Higher Edge: $3,100; Read to Ride: $3,200; Thames River Family Program: $4,000; Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut: $4,300; Safe Futures: $4,703; Waterford Country School: $5,000; United Community and Family Services: $5,000; St. Vincent de Paul Place, Norwich: $5,000; Mystic Area Shelter and Hospitality: $5,000; Eastern CT Workforce Investment Board: $5,000; Tommy Toy Fund: $10,000.
The Foundation’s goal is to support projects that enhance and enrich education and economic opportunities.