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Welcome to the Branford Community Foundation

The Branford Community Foundation (BCF) started in 1979 with a small boy and a swing set. Five-year-old Darin Etzel was ill with a rare blood disease and needed a bone marrow transplant. “At that time,” says Darin’s father, Dave Etzel, “there were only three hospitals in the country that did that procedure.” So Darin and his parents went to Sloan Kettering in New York City. Dave and his wife, Mary Margaret, took an apartment in the city to be with Darin, and friends from Branford traveled to New York to donate blood and offer support. These friends wanted Darin to have something special to look forward, so they raised $770 to buy him a swing set. “The swing set,” says Dave, “was hope for the future.” Sadly, Darin developed complications and died on January 1, 1980. In his memory, his family wanted to carry into the greater community the “hope for the future” that their friends had wanted for them. The Branford Community Foundation began with the $770 raised for Darin’s swing set.

The mission of the BCF is to connect people who care with causes that matter for the purpose of preserving and promoting the quality of life in the Branford community, now and for generations to come. The BCF is governed by a board of directors selected for knowledge of the education, cultural, civic, moral, public, and other charitable needs of the Branford community and serves without compensation.

“The Branford Community Foundation works every day to help address the most pressing issues facing our community, including emergency fuel and food assistance, youth development, environmental education and preservation, and the arts. Community foundations impact lives, solve problems, and improve futures,” said Eunice Lasala, BCF President. “In a down economy, with limited resources and a growing need for services to help families in need, we are more determined than ever to bring our community partners together to find innovative and effective solutions to some of our most challenging social problems.”

Thanks to the generous support of donors and careful financial investment, BCF maintains over one million dollars in endowed funds and invests over $50,000 in the community each year. BCF likes to share real stories about how the organization works with private and public community leaders and organizations to keep “hope for the future” strong in our town. Some recent examples are:

  • In 2010, BCF provided $25,000 in seed funding for the construction of the new Soundview Family YMCA.
  • In 2011, BCF supported free performances of “Emergency Used Candles,” at Evergreen Woods and the Blackstone Memorial Library.
  • In 2012, BCF provided financial assistance for ten Branford children and teens to attend Camp Hazen YMCA summer programs.

While BCF was pleased to support these important community efforts, the Foundation’s work is more than just about responding to grants. Last winter when the community faced a fuel crisis, BCF—working in collaboration with the Community Foundations in Guilford and Madison—spearheaded a fundraising effort to address the shortfall. Using a challenge grant that would match every dollar up to $10,000, BCF maximized its donation to the Branford Counseling Center to distribute to Branford families in need.

BCF works hard to respond to community needs and continually looks for ways to improve the process of the Foundation’s giving. To that end, the organization recently implemented new policy and procedures to make BCF grant-making more effective. The application form has been modified and the review process for grant request has been streamlined; grant requests will now be evaluated quarterly (03/31; 06/30; 09/30 and 12/31). The modifications to the application now adhere to national and Connecticut state standards and capture more meaningful data. The new application form can be downloaded at the Foundation’s website,

The Branford Community Foundation is proud to make a difference in the community. These efforts are only possible through the gracious giving of the people who care about our mission and who have supported us. On behalf of the board and all those that have benefited from our supporters, a heartfelt “thank you.” If you would like more information, including how to initiate a grant or how to give to the Foundation, please visit our website or contact Eunice Lasala, Board President, at (203) 488-6063.

To learn more about the Foundation, please browse our web site, or download a copy of our newsletter Reaching Out. For more information, you can contact us at (203) 488-6063.



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