Publication The Steward

Vol. 12 Issue 1

March 05, 2024

James A. Garfield, a Gift to the Northwest Corner — Past, Present and Future

Jim and Nancy Garfield established the Jim & Nancy Garfield Fund for the Arts and the Jim and Nancy Garfield Compassion Fund.

In the summer of 2019, the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation and our Northwest Corner lost someone near and dear to us. James A. Garfield or “Jim” as most everyone called him, passed away at his home in Fort Myers, Florida with his wife, Nancy, by his side.

Jim and Nancy were the impetus for immeasurable positive growth in Northwest Connecticut. Long-time Torrington residents, they were deeply connected to the community and especially immersed in the arts. Jim sang in the choir at the Trinity Episcopal Church, and he and Nancy served as chaperones for the young Chorus Angelicus singers of Joyful Noise as they traveled across New England for performances.

For more than 40 years, Jim worked in banking. It was through a position as senior vice president, trust administration with Bank of America that he began his involvement with the Community Foundation, and changed Northwest Connecticut for the better. At the time, the Foundation Trust—which under Jim’s leadership would grow to become the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation, had assets invested at several Northwest Connecticut banks. Trustee officers from those banks managed the funds. Grants were awarded with the help of dedicated volunteers.

In 1996, when Jim retired, Foundation volunteers asked him to take the reins and serve as the then named Torrington Area Foundation for Public Giving’s first staff member and first CEO/Executive Director.

Jim gave the Foundation its first physical office, created a corporate form of the foundation called the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation, and expanded the foundation’s territory from Torrington and the surrounding communities to 12 towns in Northwest Connecticut.

He and Nancy helped establish the Women & Girls Fund, the Community Foundation’s Youth in Philanthropy Initiative, and the Northwest CT Arts Council, which has grown to become a hub for all aspects of Northwest Connecticut cultural information and resources.

Jim worked tirelessly alongside volunteers and professional advisors to increase bequests to the Foundation. Under his leadership, Community Foundation assets grew from $2.5 million to about $10 million, and grants and scholarships awarded annually grew from $113,000 to $473,648.

Art, Community and Caring

Jim and Nancy Garfield established two funds with the Community Foundation, the Jim & Nancy Garfield Fund for the Arts and the Jim and Nancy Garfield Compassion Fund. As a celebration of their love for the arts, theater and music, the couple established the Jim & Nancy Garfield Fund for the Arts in 2002. The Fund supports arts organizations and programming within Northwest Connecticut.

In 2016, through their estate planning, Jim and Nancy established the Jim and Nancy Garfield Compassion Fund. The Fund, which will be funded through their estate, assists the most vulnerable citizens of Torrington by supporting immediate basic needs, including rent, food, heating, utilities, elderly and child care, medical expenses and disaster-recovery assistance.

Recent Grants from the Jim & Nancy Garfield Fund for the Arts

The American Mural Project
KidsPlay Children’s Museum
Northwest Connecticut Arts Council
Warner Theatre

To make a gift to the Jim & Nancy Garfield Fund for the Arts and/or the Jim and Nancy Garfield Compassion Fund, visit


Litchfield Performing Arts Brings the Magic of Jazz to Northwest Connecticut

Litchfield Performing Arts welcomes thousands of local residents and visitors to Washington, Conn. for Litchfield Jazz Camp, held June 30th-July 6th, Litchfield Jazz Festival, held July 26th-28th, and Jazz After Work, 15 nightly concerts held from July 1st -July 25th at The Gunnery Emerson Performing Arts Center.

Jazz After Work concerts feature Litchfield Jazz Camp instructors and students performing both well-known and original music.

In 2019, Jazz After Work concerts were free to attendees through a grant from the Robert V. Carr Fund, a fund of the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation.

Each summer hundreds of young people arrive at the Gunnery in Washington, Connecticut to attend Litchfield Performing Arts’ Litchfield Jazz Camp. The Camp welcomes students ages 12 and up regardless of skill level and/or financial resources to spend four weeks attending concerts and playing in jam sessions. Camp culminates in the world-renowned Litchfield Jazz Festival, where students have an opportunity to perform on stage for thousands of attendees.

Watch Jazz After Work at

Read Aloud Day Delights and Inspires

During the Read Aloud program of the Northwest Connecticut Chamber Education Foundation hundreds of community members volunteered to read books to students in 26 elementary school classrooms—to more than 8,000 students—across Northwest Connecticut. Volunteers read story books thoughtfully chosen by library media specialists and language arts consultants. Volunteer readers left the books as a gift to the classroom. Read Aloud Day is made possible by multi-year grants from the Draper Foundation Fund, a fund of the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation. ”We are so grateful to the Draper Foundation Fund,” said JoAnn M. Ryan, President and CEO of the Northwest Connecticut Chamber Education Foundation. “The program is so near and dear to our hearts and the community. We are elated to see it continue."

Susan and Jeff Lalonde established the Jeffrey and Susan Lalonde Community Betterment Fund.

Jeff and Susan Lalonde Give Back to their Communities

Jeff and Susan Lalonde have lived and worked in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut for many years, Jeff as president of Torrington Savings Bank and Susan as owner of a graphic design business. Devoted to community and highly involved with local nonprofits, they met each other through their service on the Board of the Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce and the Torrington-Winsted Rotary. “The community provided a livelihood for us,” said Jeff. “And, it’s provided a good life for us, friends and relationships.”

In 2005, Jeff and Susan were newly married and settling into a new home in Goshen. They found that they had the means and the desire to give back to their community and the nonprofits that had brought them together. “We had always given our time,” said Jeff. “And, that’s valuable too. But, now we were in a position to make a one-time financial contribution. Instead of giving it to one organization, we thought we would establish a fund, so we could give to many organizations for years to come.”

The Lalondes established the Jeffrey and Susan Lalonde Community Betterment Fund, a fund of the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation. Like the many donations of time and talent the Lalondes shared with their community for many years, the non-endowed donor-advised Jeffrey and Susan Lalonde Community Betterment Fund supports a wide range of programs that improve life for the residents of Litchfield County. “There are so many good people in this community, and they have so much to offer,” said Susan. “We admire those who come forward and work hard and are so passionate about working within local nonprofit organizations.”

Since it was established, the Jeffrey and Susan Lalonde Community Betterment Fund has awarded more than $35,000 in grants to 25 nonprofits providing emergency services, assisting veterans, supporting the arts, enhancing life for special needs adults, and assisting those struggling with hunger. Through ongoing gifts and prudent investment, the balance of the fund has continued to grow, enabling more grants each year. “There are veterans and young mothers who come to organizations like FISH of Northwestern Connecticut for help because they are down and out, and they need to get started in their lives,” said Susan. “To be able to support them is such a gift. There are happy endings to a lot of sad beginnings.”

“Torrington has growing challenges, and there is more than enough need here and in the surrounding communities,” said Jeff. “We hope that the Community Foundation continues to grow and attract donors who can help meet those needs.”

Jeffrey and Susan Lalonde Community Betterment Fund Recent Grants:

  • Cancer Care Fund of the Litchfield Hills
  • FISH of Northwestern Connecticut
  • KidsPlay Museum
  • LARC
  • Litchfield Community Center, Inc.
  • Litchfield Community Services Fund
  • Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation
  • Northwest CT YMCA
  • PrimeTime House
  • Torrington Library
  • Warner Theatre
  • White Memorial Conservation Center
  • Wisdom House Retreat and Conference Center
  • Oliver Wolcott Library, Inc.
Fresh produce arrives at FISH of Northwestern Connecticut as part of a grant to the Northwest Hills Council of Governments to provide healthful vegetables to those suffering from or at-risk of developing diet-related disease.

Northwest Building Healthier Communities Fund Helps the Northwest Corner Thrive

The Northwest Building Healthier Communities Fund recently was established through an agreement between Charlotte Hungerford Hospital and Hartford Health Care Corporation. The focus of the Fund is to enhance the economic and community well-being of the Greater Torrington region by improving social determinants of health. Focusing on community well-being areas including education, health and healthcare, neighborhood, and the environment, and economic stability and growth, the donor-advised board is working to award grants that:

Support improvements to business growth, diversification, and retention Expand educational and workforce development opportunities Foster regionalism and economic strategic partnerships Enhance or replace aged infrastructure Improve population health and conditions of daily living across all life stages

“We exist to improve the health and welfare of citizens of the greater Torrington and Winsted areas, and as we continue our work, we will build upon these investments in the spirit and intent behind this fund,” said Brian Mattiello, chair of the Northwest Building Healthier Communities.

Northwest Building Healthier Communities Fund Awards $295,400 in Grants:

EdAdvance was awarded $57,500 to support a collaborative expansion and coordination of existing home visitation programs. The grant will enable a collaboration among Torrington Public Schools; Family Strides, a community-based program that provides ongoing education, support and free home-based services to families; and EdAdvance, which works with local school districts to provide educational services; the grant builds and strengthens the existing home-visitation system that serves local families experiencing homelessness, poverty, underemployment, and trauma.

New Beginnings of Northwest Hills Litchfield County, Inc. was awarded $45,000 to support the cost of a full-time coordinator for The Gathering Place, a resource for homeless people and families to access the skills, resources and services they need to obtain and maintain housing and employment.

Northwest Hills Council of Governments was awarded $42,900 to support a produce prescription pilot program in Torrington and Winsted. Participants who suffer from or are at risk of developing diet-related health conditions will be given a prescription for fresh produce, and provided with a box of fresh produce weekly.

Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board was awarded $100,000 to support an industrial sewing job training program. The grant supports training to unemployed and underemployed individuals with at least one barrier to employment, such as childcare, transportation, or language skills. Participants will earn a certificate through Northwestern CT Community College and receive job placement in commercial sewing positions in Torrington or Winsted.

Torrington Public Schools was awarded $50,000 to support a Career Academy initiative for 50 at-risk high school juniors and seniors. Career Academies—school within-school programs—in high schools offer curricula based on a specific career path or theme. Career academies help at-risk students by providing them with employment experience through school-employer partnerships.

Be What’s Possible — Join the Legacy Society

The Community Foundation established the Legacy Society to recognize and acknowledge individuals and couples who have made provisions in their estate plans to provide a gift through the Community Foundation to support the causes they care about.

Being a member of the Legacy Society gives you the opportunity to participate in special gatherings and educational programs with like-minded people who are committed to supporting the needs of our communities through the Community Foundation. Other benefits include:

  • networking opportunities to learn what others are planning in order to create good in an everlasting and meaningful way
  • opportunities to meet and discuss charitable giving with the individuals who provide stewardship for your philanthropy
  • complete flexibility in designing your philanthropy
  • The comfort of knowing that your fund and its grants are guaranteed to stay local, with fiduciary oversight
  • special recognition in newsletters and annual reports, unless anonymity is desired; and
  • the peace of mind knowing that your fund’s principal is invested wisely and safeguarded

Legacy giving does not require a large income or vast estate. To join the Legacy Society:

  • include a gift to the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation in your will or trust, or name the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation as a beneficiary of a Life Insurance policy, Charitable Remainder Trust, or retirement account (IRA, 401K, 403B) and;
  • notify the Community Foundation of your plans!

Your planned gift or bequest puts you in good company today. Tomorrow, your endowed fund will be multiplied with gifts from other caring individuals and families to do good work in our communities for generations to come.

If you have included the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation in your estate plans and are not a recognized Legacy Society member, please contact Philanthropic Services at 860.626.1245.

For more information about the Legacy Society and leaving your own legacy, please contact Philanthropic Services at 860-626-1245.

If you have included the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation in your estate plans and are not a recognized Legacy Society member, please contact Philanthropic Services at 860.626.1245.

Members of the Youth in Philanthropy Council and other student volunteers work to create a Care Closet at Torrington High School

Youth in Philanthropy Encourages Compassion

Established in 2000, the Youth in Philanthropy Council is comprised of local high school students. Every fall, Council members examine local issues affecting youth and the environment.

Through the Youth Fund, established by the Borghesi family, Council members award grants every spring to organizations that address those issues.

A recent grant from the Council made possible a Care Closet at Torrington High School that enables homeless students to wash their clothes and pick up essential items.

“We all got together and talked about homelessness and what we could do to help,” said Natalie, a Torrington High School junior. “We had heard that other schools have care closets.”

“We all came together to clean and create something useful. It’s unbelievable what it [the Torrington High School Care Closet] looks like now.”

Other grants awarded by the Youth in Philanthropy Council have supported presentations about healthy teen lifestyle choices through the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and supported improvements to the close encounters aviaries at Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservatory.

To make a gift to the Youth Fund, visit

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