Stone Family Fund Honors a History of Family Philanthropy

The death of Louis Stone was felt across Greater New Haven. Creating a fund to give back to the community in Lou's memory was a loving family's tribute to the well known and highly respected businessman and philanthropist.

L-R: Louis Stone, Zak Stone, Susan Stone and Rachel Stone. Photo courtesy of the Stone family.

Donor Advised Fund offers convenience, flexibility and a way to memorialize

It's hard to think about what good can possibly come from tragedy.

For Susan Stone, the death of her husband Louis as a result of an accident on Thanksgiving morning in 2013 was felt not only among her family and friends, but across the entire Greater New Haven community.

A well known and highly respected businessman and philanthropist, Lou Stone devoted a considerable amount of time and talent to organizations serving Greater New Haven's most vulnerable, such as Connecticut Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity and Clifford Beers Guidance Clinic. Lou was Chair of the Clifford Beers' Board of Directors for 8 years, rolled off and was later asked to come back when the organization celebrated its 100 year anniversary. A room at the Clinic's Edwards Street location is named in Lou's honor as part of the organization's Centennial Celebration in 2013.

"He was my role model. He was worried about the world; he wanted to see peace in the world."

Susan has spent the last thirty years giving back as well, a concept that was impressed upon her while she was a child, growing up in New Britain.

"My father was one of the busiest surgeons in Connecticut, but he also found time to be president of the New Britain Board of Education and chair the Democratic Town Committee."

Dr. Andrew Canzonetti also chaired the UCONN Board of Trustees for twelve years, while serving as Vice President of Health and Medical Affairs at Central Hospital in New Britain.

Meanwhile, Susan's mother helped to establish the Salvation Army of New Britain and also played a leadership role in the local NAACP during its founding.

"We were raised with the concept that this – giving back – is what you do in life."

Susan let her love for children guide both her professional and philanthropic endeavors. She interned as a reading teacher in the State of Connecticut's juvenile detention system, spending a considerable amount of her own money on necessities and other items for the children she was working with.

"People think of children in prison as being really bad kids. But they are not usually bad kids, they are usually traumatized kids."

Later, as a special education teacher working in the New Britain, North Haven and Middletown public school districts, she devoted her work to ensuring students were getting the education they deserved.

"I had aides in my classroom that said they had never seen a teacher teach. I was able to develop individualized programs for each child. And I would train other teachers on how to better manage their students, so that the focus could be on education instead of their behaviors or disabilities."

The birth of her daughter in 1983 was the start of Susan's career as a philanthropist. As a stay at home mother for her two kids, she also became a food runner for AIDS Project New Haven, delivering meals to homebound patients with HIV/AIDS. When her children attended Conte West Hills Magnet School on Chapel Street in New Haven, she volunteered her time there regularly, working with students needing additional instruction or guidance in learning.

Susan serves on the Board of Directors for the Gateway Community College Foundation and the Community Soup Kitchen. She has served on the Board of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas and of All Our Kin, as well. For the former, she self-proclaims herself to have been the organization's "party planner" for many years.

Susan also has volunteered at Life Haven, a shelter for women with children, helping kids living at the shelter keep up on their education. She says she became aware of the opportunity while attending a donor briefing at The Community Foundation about the efforts of nonprofits in the region to collaborate to end homelessness. She also helps out occasionally at Liberty Community Services' Sunrise Café at St. Paul and St. James Episcopal Church on Olive Street in New Haven.

Susan says the decision to establish the Louis and Susan Stone Family Fund at The Community Foundation was not immediate, but she knew she wanted to create a way to give in Lou's memory for eternity. She and her children talked about the possibility of starting a family foundation, but were deterred by the level of work and legal organization needed.

"Lou liked The Community Foundation a lot and everyone here was so helpful in setting up the fund. And I think it's so great for New Haven; I know Lou would have really liked it."

Susan also liked the flexibility of establishing a donor advised fund, allowing her to support organizations that Lou cared greatly for and fund causes she cares about, whether that's alleviating hunger, providing education opportunities or fighting climate change.

"I'm excited to be a part of it and to contribute, even if it's not much. I think The Foundation is an amazing organization with people who really care and I like being a part of that."

Her children are also supportive of having this philanthropic tie to their childhood home, although both now live in other states.

"They wanted to become part of this; from time they were little, they have been serving at soup kitchens and gathering up sheets and towels to be donated to shelters. They know, just as Lou and I knew, it's a part of who you are - you have to do something for somebody."

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Louis and Susan Stone Family Fund