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As the Community Foundation of Middlesex County (CFMC) approaches its 20th anniversary, we have been busy revisiting the history of our grassroots founding and all the good work it continues to do today, thanks to those who had the vision and passion for collectively giving back to their community. This month, as we honor our mothers, caregivers, and mentors, we draw special attention to Old Saybrook resident Rachel Wiltsie, a mother of four who has been behind the scenes since the foundation’s inception, providing a dedicated, helping hand to those facing some of life’s greatest challenges.
Those who know Wiltsie appreciate her strength, her intelligence, and her quiet compassion for those who were born into challenging life situations. Her connection to CFMC began when she and her late husband Charles “Chuck” Wiltsie were living in the Cromwell and East Hampton area, running a successful car dealership, and raising a family. Chuck was a founding member of the foundation, playing a very active role in engaging others to help create the organization we know today.
In 2001, with a passion for improving the quality of life for those less fortunate and a desire to do so well into the future, Rachel and Chuck decided to start an endowed fund at the foundation. Since then, through the CFMC annual grant process, the Chuck and Rachel Wiltsie Fund has provided financial support for food, shelter, clothing, emergency transportation, and social and protective services for the homeless, low-income seniors, and the working poor.
After Chuck passed away from cancer in 2002, Rachel Wiltsie’s commitment to carrying on their tradition of giving grew even stronger. She wanted to do more to help people struggling with life’s challenges, those who, through no fault of their own, face permanent obstacles, whether a teen from a troubled family or an adult with disabilities. She also wanted to have more input into the specific programs and services that would receive assistance. Recognizing how the community foundation her husband helped establish could help her do even more in her community, Wiltsie established the Wiltsie Family Fund, a donor-advised fund. With guidance from CFMC staff, Wiltsie specifically targets her support to a wide range of programs from benefiting disadvantaged youth to helping people with debilitating diseases.
Since 2011, Wiltsie has helped Simply Sharing provide mattresses, box springs, and other essentials to families transitioning from homelessness; the Center for Children’s Advocacy provide those in juvenile detention centers develop life skills and have access to consultation on legal and education rights; the Estuary Council of Seniors support its Meals on Wheels program; and the East Hampton Volunteer Food and Fuel Bank run its Fuel Assistance Program.
Wiltsie’s deep desire to protect and provide for the most vulnerable members of our community is to be celebrated and emulated. Her ongoing relationship with CFMC, through a very personalized approach to giving, perfectly illustrates how living local and giving local can make a real difference in all of our lives. To learn more, call us at 860-347-0025 or visit us at www.middlesexcountycf.org.
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