Established in 2012 and named for the first recipients, Sherry and Herb Clark, the Sherry and Herb Clark Beacon of Philanthropy Award is presented to individuals who demonstrate exceptional generosity through outstanding civic and charitable activities, and whose leadership encourages others to actively participate in philanthropic and community service roles.
“This award encompasses all that is best in our community,” explained Wallace Jones, Chairman of the Community Foundation Board of Directors. “The Community Foundation represents three important facets in our community – Philanthropy, Leadership, and Legacy. Art Director and Willard McRae truly embody these attributes in quiet, humble, unassuming ways. They share their talent, their time and their resources, not because they have to, but because it is the right thing to do. They lead by example, demonstrating the best way to ensure their community is strong and healthy today – and forever. The Community Foundation is honored to count both these individuals as friends and partners, and we are very pleased to recognize them for their life’s work in our community.”
Mr. Director and Mr. McRae will be recognized for their lifetime of giving at the Foundation’s Local Leaders Local Legends reception on December 15th.
As the founder of Connecticut Lighting Centers, now the largest specialty lighting retailer in New England and recognized for excellence in its industry, Art Director is a well-respected businessman, family man and community supporter. Mr. Director has championed many issues and needs in the community throughout his life, including service to organizations serving our youth. He has been a Middletown Rotary Club member for 56 years and is actively involved not only with the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, but also the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, the Middlesex United Way, and many other local nonprofit organizations. With the involvement of his family, including his late wife Edythe, his adult children and grandchildren, Mr. Director has established eight funds with the Community Foundation of Middlesex County which provide support through grants to Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters, Connecticut Rivers Council Boy Scouts of America, YMCA Camp Ingersoll, Middletown Rotary Club, Rushford, as well as to human services and education programs. Art Director captures the true spirit of the Sherry and Herb Clark Beacon of Philanthropy Award: he brings his warmth, passion, time and resources to Middlesex County and its people.
A lifelong Middletown resident, Willard McRae is known for his unwavering commitment to equal opportunities for all, particularly for children. His numerous contributions to children’s mental health, education, and human services have made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of people in Middletown and across Middlesex County. Prior to his retirement, Mr. McRae was a licensed clinical social worker who served as a child welfare program supervisor, caseworker and district director for the State of Connecticut before becoming Administrative Director of the Middlesex Hospital Mental Health Clinic. He served in many volunteer roles including as member of the Middletown City Council; the Greater Middletown Community Non-Profit Housing Corporation, the Greater Middletown Negro Youth Scholarship Fund, and the Governor’s Task Force against Teenage Pregnancy. Mr. McRae was the first African-American to chair the Board of Directors at Liberty Bank, and was a founding director of the Liberty Bank Foundation. Mr. McRae is also a founding director of the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, where he and his wife, Kathy, established the Katherine and Willard McRae Fund, providing grants to help educate children in Middletown. The Community Foundation of Middlesex County is proud to present this lifetime award to such a dynamic individual who is devoted to our community.
The Beacon of Philanthropy Award was first presented to Herb and Sherry Clark in recognition of their lifelong commitment to the Middlesex County community and the Community Foundation. The award was renamed the Sherry and Herb Clark Beacon of Philanthropy Award at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County in honor of their generosity to all in Middlesex County. For more information on the Community Foundation of Middlesex County and the programs and services that are supported through CFMC funds, contact us at 860-347-0025 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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