PLAINVILLE - The Elizabeth H. Norton Trust Fund has long supported many programs and organizations in the school district and the community.
The fund is intended to continue in perpetuity and carry on the community spirit of the Norton family, after whom Norton Park is named.
Foster White, a five-year Board of Education member, will be taking over leadership of the fund in March. He has been a board member of the trust, which was established in 1986, for 10 years.
“Back in the 1950s and 1960s, there were two rather prominent families in town, the Wheelers and the Nortons,” White explained. “The Wheelers wanted to create a hospital and that ultimately led to the founding of the Wheeler Clinic, and they also, separately, founded the Wheeler YMCA.
“The Nortons were a very community-oriented family and Norton Park as well as Norton Place were named after them. The last Norton that I knew was Burt Norton, who worked at GE and used to go to Plainville Methodist Church with me, and he died more than 20 years ago. Some of the people who were prominent in Plainville at the time decided to create this fund in memory of the family.”
The Elizabeth H. Norton Trust Fund was created to help fund public services, literacy initiatives, education and the prevention of cruelty to children and animals.
The grant application form states that beneficiaries must be a Plainville Public School organization, a 501(c)3 nonprofit in Plainville, or a nonprofit in a town bordering Plainville that benefits Plainville residents.
“Just in this past year, we have funded the Norton Park concert series, the Midstate Special Olympics, PARC, the New Britain Museum of American Art and the New Britain Symphony Orchestra and 11 separate requests from Plainville Community Schools,” said White. “The fund has also supported Boy Scout programs, the Wheeler YMCA and New Britain’s Queen Ann Nzinga Center.”
White said that, as a member of the Board of Education, he has seen how money from the fund has allowed youth to participate in activities that the district couldn’t otherwise afford to provide.
“It really is something that is designed to support and strengthen our system,” he said.
Maureen Brummett, the town’s superintendent of schools, said the high school has benefited from the fund to the tune of $3,000 to $4,000 annually.
“For many years it has been a major asset,” she said. “I applaud our teachers for the time that they take to prepare applications for the trust. This year especially, with our budget so tight, this fund is one of the only ways that we are still able to offer students the kind of programs that we want to.”
Brummett said school programs that are supported by the fund include a bicycle-refurbishing program in the high school’s technical education department.
The police find bicycles that are unclaimed and students repair them and donate them to the Plainville Food Pantry to give to the needy.
Another school program that benefits from the fund is Positive Kids Inspiring Kids. In the program, eighth- and ninth-graders are paired with older students, who act as their mentors throughout their high school years.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.