BERLIN - The Community Foundation of Greater New Britain has been serving the area since 1941, and the new president wants to extend its reach.
President David J. Obedzinski, who took over in August after Jim Williamson retired, met with town government, school and businesses leaders so members of the community can get to know each other better. The stop at the Berlin-Peck Memorial Library Friday morning was his fifth, after Plainville, two locations in New Britain and Southington.
“I thought this morning went very, very well and I thought it went in line with all the other community conversations we’ve been having,” said Obedzinski. “I’m very, very pleased about the reception we’ve received from the towns and organizations who have attend I feel like everybody got something very positive out of the experience and I look forward to work with all of them as we go forward to meet the needs of these four communities.”
After introducing himself and detailing his background with the Hospital of Central Connecticut and U.S. Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association, Obedzinski shared the three goals of the CFGNB, which are inspiring philanthropy, primarily through educating youth; managing charitable assets responsibly, primarily through funds that community members can start at $5,000 and provide recommendations for how donations should be handled; and scholarships.
Obedzisnki also told how the CFNGB shares $1.5 million a year, partly through a grants committee that approves applications and a catalyst group that identifies an issue in the four communities that needs to be addressed and provides a grant to do so in the amount of $10,000 to a nonprofit.
“Additionally, I want to look at natural disasters,” said Obedzinski, who wants to establish a playbook for hospitals’ and relief organizations’ response to snowstorms and the occasional hurricane.
“It doesn’t happen as much as the Gulf Coast and Florida,” he said of hurricanes, “but when it does happen, I want to make sure our communities have their game plan set.”
Afterward, attendees at the table shared how CFGNB’s missions relate to them.
“Our mission is about open space, preserving open space,” said Ray Archacki of the Berlin Land Trust. “We get property via people donating it to us or short sales … We have a challenge with (our website), development marketing, donations, so looking forward to some of those possibilities you mentioned, some of those workshops that can help us get our name out there and get people in Berlin to know about us.”
“Three or four years ago we received a grant, a very generous grant from the foundation to purchase treadmills and elliptical machines for our community center,” said Debbie Dennis, Berlin Parks and Recreation commission director, adding that people regularly use the machines in the center as part of a social hour.
Berlin Economic Development Director Chris Edge told how the town, in partnership with Junior Achievement and the high school, is a finalist in this year’s catalyst program, to help high school students with interviewing and resume building.
After the introductions, attendees were asked to supply written feedback on the organization and grant process.
“I thought it was wonderful,” said Sharon Faucher, of Good Cause Gifts, adding that the CFGNB and her store are on the same page in instilling a philanthropic spirit in the community.