Hat show celebrates area philanthropy
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Thompson - posted Mon., May. 13, 2013
The Raceway Restaurant in Thompson looked like a scene out of “The Great Gatsby” on May 11. The fledgling Northeast Connecticut Women and Girls Fund presented the Sassy Chapeau Hat Fashion Show. Eighteen models representing non-profits and social service agencies in the area strolled a runway wearing spectacular hats compliments of Salmagundi in Jamaica Plain. The hat and accessory shop showcased a wide range of hats including cloches, berets, Panamas, Fedoras, pillboxes and fascinators.
According to Mistress of Ceremonies and one of the NCWGF founders Linda Colangelo, the hat show was meant to honor all the metaphorical "hats" that women wear in the community. But this show focused on the fabulous, not the hard hats or ball caps or dutiful caps that women wear, she said. Salmagundi did not disappoint. Women strolled the runway in wide-brimmed sinamay clouds and platter fascinators. The hats were decked out in quills, silk flowers and feathers of the brightest colors. The hand-blocked, hand-trimmed hats included mini bowlers and boss hats and hats made with Italian straw and horsehair trim.
But the real reason for the show was the opportunity to organize philanthropy, according to Donna Grant. Grant is the executive director of Thompson Ecumenical Empowerment Group and one of the fund's founders. “I believe that there has to be organized philanthropy that can help good causes so that people aren't out doing bake sales and selling candy bars 365 days a year,” Grant said. “When a community is as generous as northeastern Connecticut, we need to take the opportunity to organize that philanthropy so it can be used to meet the needs of the area. This was an opportunity to do that.”
The NCWG Fund will be used to build brighter futures for women and girls living throughout the Quiet Corner. The goal of the founders is to establish a permanent endowment that will allow the awarding of grants to local non-profits. Grant said they are still working to identify some of those needs. “We're looking to see what women in the community feel are the priorities,” she said. “When non-profits make requests to the fund, we'll know what the community would like us to fund first.” Grant said the fund will start awarding grants in 2014. Until then, the steering committee is intent on building the endowment. “Right now we have $30,000 committed from founders,” she said. “We'll probably not be in grant-making territory for a year or two.” The committee is recruiting founders at the level of $1,000. Grant said that opportunity would be open for 24 months, with founders being able to donate over a five year time frame. “We want to make it so anyone can be a part of it,” Grant said.
The NCWG fund is managed by the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut. It's a designated fund restricted by use and geography, Grant said. It will cover agencies in the 10 towns of the Quiet Corner.