Margaret Mack Leaves Legacy at Clifford W. Beers Clinic

Fact: children who witness violence or experience trauma in their lives are more likely to encounter problems in adulthood. That's bad for the children and equally bad for the future of our local community. Thanks to Margaret Mack, this community's children will forever receive the support and services they need.

Children who witness violence or experience trauma in their lives are more likely to encounter problems in adulthood.

Domestic and community violence, incarceration or death of a parent, physical or sexual abuse—these are all things that can change a child's life and increase the risk of mental illness.

Approximately 70% of Connecticut's kids passing through the doors of the Clifford W. Beers Guidance Clinic report at least one harmful exposure or traumatic loss in their childhood. Fortunately, the Clinic is equipped to deal with these issues, which are largely invisible to many in the community, and to prevent further exposure if possible.

"Trauma and violence crosses all demographics and economic status," says Dr. Alice Forrester, the Executive Director of Clifford Beers Clinic. The facility is one of the nation's oldest mental health, outpatient, community-based clinics and is named for a man who is largely recognized as the father of the mental heath movement in the U.S. In 1900, Clifford Beers developed a mental illness which required hospitalization for 3 years in a sanitarium. He witnessed and was subject to unspeakable acts of cruelty and prejudice. Because there were so few treatments at the turn of the century, mentally ill individuals were incarcerated—treated as if they were criminals. Beers made it his mission to change that.

The Clinic has always been ahead of the curve. Its health records are now in electronic format, making for easier access to important information about families. The new system also guarantees faster payment from insurance companies and makes the process of aggregating data used for public advocacy more efficient.

The Clinic has also strengthened its financial health and long-term sustainability. In 1999, it established an organization endowment at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, to augment its own endowment which was initiated in 1988 by long-time supporter Susan W. Crosby. In anticipation of its 100th anniversary, it embarked on a campaign to raise its endowment to $10 million.

Still, gaps between the cost for services and funding routinely pose concerns, especially in relation to the health of the State's budget. In one year, the Clinic saw an increase of 500 new clients a year, with particular growth within the Latino community.

"Clifford Beers is like any other nonprofit that depends, to great extent, on contracts with the state," says former Board member Beverly Hodgson. "In this economy, we are all hoping the state will be wise and see that there is a need for these services. The risk to do horrendous damage is too great without them."

To guard against state budget cuts, Beverly and two other former Board members made a commitment to support the Clinic through donor advised and designated funds at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. Such private donations ensure that the Clinic can cover its operational and programmatic costs from year to year.

Margaret Mack, a Clifford Beers Board member for over 15 years, established a donor advised fund at The Foundation, which granted $100,000 for immediate use upon her death in 2006. Per her wishes, her fund has now become designated to benefit the Clifford W. Beers Clinic and other organizations, and has distributed more than 257 grants totaling over $1,144,000+.

"Margaret was a woman who spoke her mind," recalls Barbara Strauss, the Director of Development at Clifford Beers who has been tasked with leading its endowment campaign. "She was serious about helping individuals in need, offering her time and financial assistance whenever possible. She was a dear friend and is missed by everyone at the Clinic."

Dr. Harold Bornstein, a Clifford Beers Board member who served in the 1970s, has also taken measures to support the Clinic through two charitable gift annuities (CGA) at The Community Foundation. One will be used to make a gift to the Clinic's Endowment Fund; the other to make a one-time gift for immediate use.

Giving through a CGA allows Dr. Bornstein and his wife Maureen to make a generous gift to their community, while providing an income source that can be counted on for the rest of their lives. A permanent endowment will be created after their deaths that makes annual distributions to designated charities.

"I feel very strongly that The Foundation is doing a wonderful job at being a fiduciary agent for local nonprofits," says Harold, a graduate of Yale's School of Medicine and semi-retired pediatrician who practiced in North Haven for 41 years. "The Foundation's 90-year track record also makes me feel more comfortable." The Bornsteins created multiple CGAs with other organizations and a total of 20 with The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven that will benefit Greater New Haven nonprofits such as New Reach, the United Way of Greater New Haven ,LEAP and New Haven Promise.

There are several other funds at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven that have given financial aid to Clifford Beers, including: the George Mixter Fund (est. 1977); the Sam Gingold Fund (est. 1972); the Community Fund for Women & Girls (est. 1995); the Anne Hope Bennett Fund (est. 1943); and the Crippled Children's Aid Society Fund (est. 1986).

Like Margaret Mack and others, you or someone you know can create a lasting legacy through a permanent endowment that benefits the community for generations.

To learn more, please contact Sharon Cappetta at 203-777-7071.

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