The Roberts - A Legacy of Love, Tall (But Truthful) Tales, and Better Tomorrows
As the town historian, Douglas Roberts seemed to hold the memories of an entire community in his heart. A resident of Riverton for more than 80 years, he enjoyed regaling townspeople and visitors with tall (but truthful) tales about the town and its residents from his town historian booth at the Riverton Fair—rumors of bootleggers at the Riverton Inn, the lighthouse nestled deep in the woods of Barkhamsted, and from his time in WWII, the top hat that drew the ire of Gen. George S. Patton. Anyone who knew him would tell you, Doug had stories to tell and a great love for his hometown of Riverton.
Doug lived in Riverton his entire life, attending the two-room Riverton schoolhouse and then a newly built Gilbert School, where he played baseball. At the age of 18, Doug left Riverton to serve in WWII. He served as a radar operator for Troop D. Calvalry.
He and Janet, his wife of 47 years, loved animals and the outdoors—growing vegetables, planting flowers in their yard. Janet canned fruits and baked pies. They enjoyed countless hours of volunteering, Janet as a member of the Riverton Volunteer Fire Ladies Auxiliary, and Doug as a charter member of the Barkhamsted Historical Society, Fire Chief for the Riverton Volunteer Fire Department, and a member of the Riverton American Legion Post #159, and the Barkhamsted Lions Club.
An expert in Hitchcock chairs, Doug established a furniture workshop next to the Hitchock Factory in Barkhamsted. He restored furniture and built antique reproduction tables, chairs, and beds, and collected antique items: tools, postcards, and photos.
If you stopped by to see Doug in his workshop, he might tell you about the time during his service in WWII when he was rolling through Normandy in one of a line of armored tanks.
He popped his head out of the tank hatch wearing a men’s fashion top hat he had found in town instead of his military-issued helmet. He instantly caught the eye of Gen. George S. Patton, who happened to be sitting at an intersection with his driver. Doug quickly tossed the top hat, but Gen. Patton chased him down and gave him a talking-to.
He might tell you about the love story between a young Barkhamsted lady and her beau, a Native American. When the young lady’s father refused to let her marry, the two ran off together.
They set up a homestead deep in the woods of Riverton, where her father would not find them. Over the decades their family and their children’s families settled close by. The surrounding areas became more populated and eventually a stagecoach route from Albany to Hartford was cut through the rural area.
As the coaches passed by the couples’ cabin in the evening, the warm glow of the hearth brightening the thick dark woods, the driver would exclaim: “There is the Barkhamsted Lighthouse. Five more miles to port” (the next stop).
"Doug never met anybody he didn’t like,” said Dave Roberts, his nephew. “He would talk to everybody whether he knew them or not, and Janet was a wonderful person, who always had a smile for everyone.”
Janet passed away in 2012. Doug followed her in 2022, but not before ensuring that his hometown of Riverton would continue to be a place where local history is celebrated and education is within reach for future generations.
Through his estate planning, Doug established the Northwest CT Community Foundation Douglas and Janet Roberts Fund. The fund supports the Barkhamsted Historical Society, educational enrichment for Barkhamsted residents, and regional nonprofit programming that benefits the residents of Barkhamsted.
“Doug and Janet lived a good, but a very frugal life,” said Dave. “Establishing a fund with the Northwest CT Community Foundation was an opportunity to give back to the community that meant so much to them.”
Recent Grants from the Northwest CT Community Foundation Douglas and Janet Roberts Fund
- Town of Barkhamsted in support of the installation of an automatic door for the Barkhamsted Senior Center
- First Congregational Church of Barkhamsted in support of repairing and reopening the basement-level community meeting hall for public use
- Barkhamsted Historical Society in support of roof repairs for Squire's Tavern, a colonial-era building that serves as a museum and historical society headquarters
Draper Foundation Fund Supports High-Quality Child Care
The Litchfield County Family Child Care Network (FCC) is a professional group of more than 30 licensed family childcare providers in Northwest CT committed to running successful small businesses and offering quality childcare.
FCC childcare providers were recruited in 2018 by EdAdvance, the Regional Educational Service Center for western CT, to expand locally-based family childcare networks staffed by professionals who are able to provide business and child-development training and technical support.
The Northwest CT Community Foundation Draper Foundation Fund awarded a grant to EdAdvance in support of continued professional development for FCC childcare providers, including: early literacy workshops, social and emotional development topics, curriculum development, family engagement, and small business training.
“We can’t afford to lose family childcare in our area,” said Michelle Anderson, director of early childhood at EdAdvance.
“Funding for this network is critical, as it keeps FCC providers engaged and promotes quality care.”
NCCF Supports City of Torrington in Awarding ARPA Grants
In 2021, the city of Torrington was awarded just over $10 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. The City Council appointed- ARPA Committee was charged with providing businesses, nonprofits, and other groups the ability to apply for incentive and improvement grants, reviewing all applications, and awarding grants.
The ARPA Committee reached out to the Northwest CT Community Foundation to serve as an administrative partner. NCCF staff worked with the committee to create an online grant application and post-grant award review process.
“The experienced and professional staff at the Northwest CT Community Foundation has been a pleasure to work with,” said Rista Malanca, ARPA Committee member. “Although the grant-approval process was difficult, their leadership and guidance instilled confidence and fairness in that decision-making.”
Grant awards support:
- Re-engaging Torrington’s youth through youth sports and activities
- Increasing childcare capacity within Torrington
- Mental healthcare
- Travel and tourism
- Creative economies
- Workforce development and job-training programs
- Prevention and treatment of drug and alcohol addiction and domestic violence
- Human needs
NCCF provided the administrative support that enabled the ARPA Committee to accept grant applications consistent with priorities set by the ARPA Committee and in compliance with the U.S. Treasury Department.
The ARPA Committee awarded $875,000 in grants in 2022. Another $875,000 in grants will be available in 2023. Learn more, visit www.torringtonct.org
Nonprofits Benefit from Adaptive Leadership Training
In 2021, the Northwest CT Community Foundation partnered with Foundation for Community Health, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, and Connecticut Community Foundation to enable 14 nonprofits to participate in a six-week Adaptive Leadership Cohort.
The inspiration for the program came from the results of multiple surveys conducted by NCCF staff during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to specific immediate needs, such as unrestricted grants, nonprofits expressed a need for expanded staff training to enhance resilience.
Greenwoods Counseling & Referrals, Litchfield Community Center, Licia & Mason Beekley Community Library, NWCT Arts Council, Prime Time House, Save Girls on F.Y.E.R., Naugatuck Youth Services, Chore Service, FISH of NWCT, Neighborhood Housing Services of Waterbury, Housatonic Youth Service Bureau, Waterbury Bridge to Success, Tri-State Center for the Arts (Sharon Playhouse) and Fishes & Loaves Food Pantry participated in the cohort.
Adaptive Leadership Cohort sessions included: The Power of Adaptive Leadership: Defining Adaptive Leadership, Qualities of an Adaptive Organization, Diagnosing the Real Issue, and Identifying Technical and Adaptive Challenges.
Examining the Contexts for Change: Diagnosing Structure, Culture, and Norms; Margin to Center Reflection, Outside-in Thinking, the Role of the Board in Adaptive Leadership, Evolving the Board’s Role and Developing Relevant Solutions and Mobilizing Support.
“It was good to process ideas, find guidance, laugh, be challenged, and magnify the purpose of the group interactions,” said Berta Andrulis Mette, executive director of the Litchfield Community Center.
“The Adaptive Leadership Cohort allowed us to identify challenges and take a practical approach,” said Jane MacLaren, Adaptive Leadership Cohort member and executive director of Chore Service, Inc.
“In addition to having the opportunity to connect with and learn from other local nonprofit executives, I gained valuable insight from the one-on-one consulting sessions with fio Partners,” said Christina Emery, executive director of Prime Time House.
“The program allowed me to take some time away from day-to-day management to focus on the larger, adaptive challenges that we are all facing during these challenging times.”
The Community Foundation Soon Will Have a New Look
Beginning in 2023, the Northwest CT Community Foundation will launch a refreshed brand, including a new logo, a new color palate, and a new website with enhanced features and navigation.
“In the more than 50 years since the Northwest CT Community Foundation was established, NCCF has granted more than $50 million to area nonprofits and scholarship recipients, making a meaningful difference for the homeless and hungry, for our community institutions, libraries, schools, churches, senior centers, the arts, and the environment,” said Northwest CT Community Foundation president Guy Rovezzi.
“Thanks to the generosity of donors like you the Community Foundation continues improving the lives of people in Northwest CT.”
The new logo and brand colors reflect the strength and resilience of NCCF, a community foundation that transforms lives and strengthens communities in Northwest CT by bringing together donors who care with causes that matter.
Visit northwestct.org in February to learn more.
Fundholders Protect Town Treasures
The headquarters of the all-volunteer Barkhamsted Historical Society is located in Squire’s Tavern, a farmhouse built between 1790 and 1800.
Over the years, the antique home has been a quiet family farmhouse, a blacksmith residence, and for a time, a tavern where weary workers from the iron forge in Colebrook would stop for a libation or two.
But in 2000, Squire’s Tavern was a dilapidated old building facing likely demolition by the state of Connecticut. The Barkhamsted Historical Society worked with the state, promising to restore the home.
Volunteers set to work restoring Squire’s Tavern— uncovering hand-stenciled walls and repairing worn and broken fireplace mantels.
A grant from the Northwest CT Community Foundation Edwin M. Stone and Edith H. Stone Fund supported the work of volunteers in repairing the heating system and completing handicapped-access renovations.
The Northwest CT Community Foundation Eva M. Coty Fund supported the restoration of paintings of the founders of the Riverton Inn, on display in the restored ballroom.
Soon the Barkhamsted Historical Society was welcoming residents and visitors to explore Squire’s Tavern—the history of Barkhamsted and the people who lived there long ago through photos, stories, and antique furniture and tools.
Then in 2021, an unexpected roof failing threatened the tavern and the museum. Volunteers reached out to NCCF. A grant from the Northwest CT Community Foundation Douglas and Janet Roberts Fund helped to restore the roof.
“It’s a challenge to keep ahead of things here,” said Paul Hart, Barkhamsted Historical Society volunteer.
“The roof was a big unexpected expense. The grant from the Northwest CT Community Foundation Douglas and Janet Roberts Fund was a huge help to us.”
Community Foundation Funds Match Donations: Nonprofits Raise $435,820
Nonprofits raised $435,820 through the Northwest CT Community Foundation’s Northwest Corner Gives. This past July, 33 nonprofits posted campaigns to www.northwestcornergives.org, the Community Foundation’s crowdfunding program created to help build awareness and raise matching funds for expenses.
Throughout the month, individuals and families donated $217,910 through Northwest Corner Gives. The Community Foundation matched those donations dollar-for-dollar up to campaign goals for a total of $435,820.
“Northwest Corner Gives enables Food Rescue US – Northwest CT to fundraise at a higher level, and the donations that we receive are critical to our efforts to fight hunger and food waste,” said Stacey Smith, Food Rescue US – Northwest CT.
“The Northwest CT Community Foundation has done an amazing job serving our community,” said Alice Daly of Little Britches Therapeutic Riding.
“NCCF has adapted quickly to our changing world. This has allowed the local nonprofits to focus on implementing programming.”
Northwest Corner Gives dollar-for-dollar matches were made possible by generous gifts from the Northwest CT Community Foundation Draper Foundation Fund, as well as the Northwest CT Community Foundation:
- Northwest Corner Gives: Covid-19 Fund
- Khurshed Bhumgara Fund
- Marion Wm. & Alice Edwards Fund
- Edwin M. Stone and Edith H. Stone Fund
- Northwest CT Philanthropy Fund
- Margaret C. Tupper Fund
- Edward W. Diskavich Fund
- Lucia Tuttle Fritz Fund
- Robert Venn Carr Jr. Fund
- Keroden Endowed Fund
- Borghesi Family Fund
View nonprofit campaigns and grant awards, visit www.northwestcornergives.org
Northwest CT Community Foundation Welcomes New Board Members
Liz Brayboy has extensive experience with corporate facilitation and process redesign. Having worked in the insurance industry, she transitioned to consulting and spent 10 years with Deloitte Consulting before starting her own business, LBVentures LLC, where she provided services to Fortune 50 companies. Her primary focus was financial process improvement and management facilitation driving strategic change. Read more about Liz Brayboy, visit Board of Trustees and Staff
Born in Saint Andrews, Jamaica, Patrique Fearon immigrated to the United States in 1995 at the age of 8. He lived and attended school in Hartford and West Hartford. Upon graduating from Conard High School in 2006, Patrique enlisted in the Marine Corps. He served for more than 11 years and did three combat tours overseas: one to Iraq and two to Afghanistan. Read more about Patrique Fearon, visit Board of Trustees and Staff
The Northwest Regional Early Childhood Alliance Awards Grants in Support of Early Childhood
The Northwest CT Community Foundation Northwest Regional Early Childhood Alliance has awarded grants to 18 local nonprofits for programs promoting parent and caregiver engagement in meaningful ways within existing initiatives and programming to improve child well-being.
More than $291,000 in Scholarships Awarded
The Northwest CT Community Foundation has awarded more than $291,000 in scholarships and awards to local students for the 2022-2023 academic year. Scholarships and awards are made possible by Northwest CT Community Foundation funds, established by generous individuals and families.
Draper Foundation Fund Awards More Than $825,000 in Grants
The Northwest CT Community Foundation Draper Foundation Fund awarded area nonprofits $827,325. The fund awarded $637,875 to 19 designated nonprofits and $257,900 in donor-advised grants to nonprofits that provide essential programs and services for residents of Northwest CT.