Fund Highlight: Deirdre Baker Schiffer Fund

Deirdre Baker Schiffer was a gifted artist with a passion for the wild beauty of Branford’s Farm River Estuary. Now, her family curates Deirdre’s love of nature as a lasting gift to the community, through the Deirdre Baker Schiffer Fund. Established in 2016 by Joe Schiffer in memory of his late wife, this is the Branford Community Foundation’s (BCF) first donor advised fund.

Cradled by the Farm River and tidal marshes on one side, and Long Island Sound on another, the Schiffer’s Short Beach home became a treasured, “glorious epicenter” of inspiration and renewal for Deirdre, says Joe.

“Deirdre was originally from Old Lyme and grew up on the Connecticut River. When we moved to Short Beach in 1975, it was absolutely natural for her to be back in a river setting. It was a kind of paradise, living in this water environment with its marshes and wildlife, and enjoying beach life together with our children and neighbors. Deirdre was inspired by it — she painted it. It was a constant source of renewal for her.”

After Deirdre passed away in 2011, Joe and his sons, Paul and Jordan, sought a legacy to honor her.

“We wanted to do something memorializing the love Deirdre had for this environment; and the meaning and the comfort that she drew from it,” says Joe.

Through a family friend, BCF Board Chair Stephanie Farber, Joe learned about BCF’s donor advised funds.

“When this possibility came along, it seemed an ideal legacy; because it’s a living commitment, to be constantly renewed,” says Joe.

Helping guide disbursement of the Deirdre Schiffer Fund allows Joe and designated heirs to have a hand in fostering a spectrum of grants supporting efforts assisting Branford environmental issues, education and protection, now and in the future.

“As a donor advisor, it’s very exciting to help guide this fund for these purposes,” says Joe.

The fund’s very first grant will dovetail projects of Friends of Farm River Estuary together with a data-driven study to benchmark potential environmental contaminants. Joe envisions packaging the results together with a Branford photographer’s artistic images of the estuary, creating an inspiring educational report to be shared with the community.

“It feels like a great start,” says Joe. “And exciting to stay involved. That’s what’s so wonderful about a living memorial.”

For more information on starting your own fund or contributing to a fund, email or call Liza Janssen Petra, BCF Executive Director, at 203.444.4898 today.