Helen W. Jones Fund
Helen established a donor advised fund to honor her father Daniel and remained active in making grants from that fund until her death at age 95, when the fund became a designated fund to help the homeless. Helen established a second fund through her estate to meet housing, food, medical and social needs in our community.
Helen Jones c. 1937. Settling in Milford, Helen was an active parishioner of the United Church on the Green in New Haven and past President of the Soroptimist Club of New Haven, part of Soroptimist International, the world's largest classified service organization for executive and professional women.
Strouse, Adler was founded in 1861 as J.H. Smith and Company, and was the nation's first manufacturer of corsets. By the 1890s, it was the nation's largest producer of the garment, which eventually gave way to lighter weight fabrics and materials under the company's Smoothie line. At Strouse, Adler, Helen started first as the Public Relations Director, promoting the Smoothie, the first two-way stretch elastic corselet. During her tenure, she was an Advertising Manager, Vice President, Treasurer and Director.
Helen Jones has always been philanthropically inclined. A native of New Jersey, she spent her grammar school years in Orange and moved to New Haven to attend Hillhouse High School in her teens. Upon graduation, Helen attended Mt. Holyoke College in MA, where she participated in the choir, glee and outing clubs. She was also a librarian, Vice President of the International Relations club and Treasurer of the Economics club. After graduating with a degree in Economics, she worked for several years as the Personnel Director at the Associated Seed Growers Company then joined the Strouse, Adler Company in 1947.
When Helen began working at Strouse, Adler Corset Factory, she was charged with promoting the Smoothie line, so named for its elastic and smooth finish – a stark contrast to the boned corsets of the day.
Helen felt so strongly that women should develop their business skills that she made a substantial gift in 1989 to renovate the Career Development Center (CDC) at her alma mater, Mt. Holyoke College. The gift was made in memory of her father for whom she had great respect. At the time, she remarked, "I feel that the many services offered by the CDC are important for the students and the alumnae, and for parents who invest in their daughter's education. My father inspired people to work for him, and he helped them advance their careers. This included putting women in responsible positions."
Before creating her own named fund, Helen established a donor advised fund at The Community Foundation honoring her father, Daniel in 1988.
"Helen believed very positively in the American Dream and in doing what was necessary to build a strong foundation for a successful life. You could see this in her support for programs for the homeless and refugees. She was also a strong proponent for educating young women in business. We think of the latter as normal, now, but, several decades ago, it was not. In that way, Helen was very practical and forward-looking," says Karen Clute, a partner at the law firm of Wiggin and Dana LLP and the Executor of the Jones estate.
Helen's final act of generosity was leaving a bequest upon her death to create a fund at The Community Foundation to benefit Greater New Haven. Since being established in 2011, the Helen W. Jones Fund has distributed more than half a million dollars in grants to local nonprofits including Emerge Connecticut, Beth-El Center, Columbus House New Reach and the Valley Community Foundation.
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