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04/26/2023 08:29 AM

Dylan Walter: Compassion for All

Dylan Walter has established the Clinton Compassion Fund as a way to provide counseling services to those who need them. Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News

Last year, Dylan Walter was informed about one of the top issues facing Clinton: the high rate of suicide in town, particularly among young men. To help combat the issue, Dylan started the Clinton Compassion Fund as a way to provide counseling services to all those who need it.

In 2017, UConn published a study that named Clinton the leading Connecticut municipality in suicides and suicide attempts that resulted in hospitalization per capita. The study indicated that the town had a rate four times above what was expected for a town of its size. The majority of cases involved young men aged 18 to 24. While startling, the problem isn’t one everyone in town knows about.

“I wasn’t aware how big the issue is the town faces until I was at a town concert last year and someone mentioned it to me. It immediately made an impact with me because I grew up here, and I care about this town and I know it’s not the easiest place to be a young person, especially for young men,” Dylan recalls.

“Growing up in Clinton, I sometimes felt lost [and] didn’t know where to go. I know it’s hard.”

Dylan was so impacted by what he heard that he went and talked with the Clinton Human Services Department to see how he could help. Dylan saw that while there are programs in place for school-age kids, there’s not a lot for males specifically and those who are out of high school.

Clinton Compassion Fund

“Nobody should be unable to get the help they need due to cost. That’s something I believe,” Dylan says.

Dylan says that 75% of every dollar goes directly to helping people while 25% goes to an endowment that Dylan hopes will allow the fund to become self-funded. Right now, Dylan says he is funding it through his work.

“My goal is to boost morale and positivity in town and make Clinton a better place to live,” Dylan says. Though he is self-funding, Dylan says the fund does accept donations which can be made at

Beyond the fund, Dylan touts the other efforts in town to help those struggling with depression or mental health needs. The human services department has been hosting community conversations which Dylan describes as “a great opportunity to come together and discuss how we fix it.”

The department also does periodic QRP training – an evidence-based 90-minute class that teaches people how to question, persuade, and refer someone who may be suicidal, as well as how to recognize the signs of someone who may be considering suicide.

“There’s also a men’s group that meets the last Wednesday of each month at the Congregational church in town. It’s not therapy; it’s just guys getting together to talk,” Dylan adds.

After first learning about Clinton’s mental health issue, Dylan estimates it took him two months to set up the fund.

“My favorite part was really getting hands-on to make sure all the money is going to help people in our community,” Dylan says.

For Dylan, being involved in the community is nothing new.

“I’ve got my hands in everything. I really care about Clinton,” he says.

Dylan is a member of the board of directors for the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Clinton Historical Society, the Lions Club, the Republican Town Committee, and the Clinton Placemakers.

“I’ve always been a volunteer; there’s nothing better than giving back your time to a cause you really care about,” Dylan says.

For work, Dylan is a real estate agent, a job he enjoys in part because he gets to meet new people joining the community.

“It all ties itself together,” Dylan says.

In his spare time, Dylan can be found fishing, boating, or just enjoying what Clinton has to offer. As someone born and raised in Clinton, Dylan has a deep love for his hometown.

“I love the spirit. Coming out of COVID to get to see everyone again or people you lost contact with is great. I love seeing the town get together behind a cause,” Dylan says.

For more information on community conversations, QPR training, or men’s group, visit