Living Local, Giving Local with Passion and Partnership   

At the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, we are privileged to know and work with so many local residents who are committed to making a difference and improving the quality of life for all in each and every one of our towns.  We celebrate people like Old Saybrook resident Sally D’Aquila, whose passion for and dedication to her community is a daily reminder of how we can accomplish great things and address a critical need through partnership and philanthropy; that you don’t need to be a “Warren Buffet” to make a real difference in someone’s life; that by working together, pooling our resources, and sharing ideas, we can maximize the impact today and for tomorrow. In recognition of this being Community Service Month, we thought we’d share her story.

A little over a year ago, Sally came to us to learn more about how she could lend a hand to her neighbors in need and help address issues that she might not be aware of but that matter to her. She was at a point in her life where she had some financial “overflow” and knew she wanted to invest it right back into the community that she loves, where she has been a proud, life-long resident. After discussing her goals and dreams with us, she decided to create a Donor Advised Fund in her and her husband’s name through the Community Foundation.  The Community Foundation staff then worked directly with Sally, providing personal guidance and information on community needs and programs that align with her areas of interest, and ensuring that grants made from the fund are targeted for immediate impact and to do the maximum good.

In 12 short months, the Sally Ann McGee D’Aquila and Salvatore D’Aquila Fund has supported initiatives at the Old Saybrook Historical Society, the Middlesex County Historical Society, and Middlesex Hospital, and has helped fund Parkinson’s research and community tree plantings.  Contributions have also been made to the Bee & Missionary Fund for Women and Girls, which provides assistance and self-empowerment programs for women and girls, a cause that Sally’s mother was deeply involved with.  The Fund has also helped seed the development of a documentary film on the contributions of the James family of Old Saybrook, including Anna Louise James, who was the first African-American female pharmacist in the state; and noted Old Saybrook resident  Ann Petry, who was the first African-American author to sell over one million books. Sally is most passionate about programs that foster diversity and develop self-confidence and self-reliance for those facing adversity. She is thrilled and proud to be connected to programs like the James family history project and the Bee & Missionary Fund for Women and Girls.

The Community Foundation’s partnership with the D’Aquilas, and all the local nonprofit service providers that they support, is just one example of how living local and giving local can make a real difference in all of our lives.  Together, with passion and compassion, we are building better communities for today and tomorrow. To learn more about the great things being done by the good people in your community, call us at 860-347-0025 or email us at


This article was previously published in April, 2016,  in both the Valley Courier and the Harbor News.

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