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Public servants

Published January 11. 2013 4:00AM

A pending departure and the arrival in a new role of a familiar public servant once again reminds us of how fortunate this region is in the quality of people who step forward to serve those in need.

Alice Fitzpatrick will soon retire as president of the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut after leading that philanthropic agency for 18 years. And what an 18 years it has been, the assets of the foundation growing in good economic times and bad from $4 million to $42 million today. Using those assets the foundation has awarded more than $30 million in grants and scholarships, including $12.5 million in the last five years.

During her tenure the foundation also grew geographically, now encompassing 42 towns. In 2010, the merger of the former Southeastern Connecticut and the Tri-County Area community foundations expanded the foundation's outreach and donor pool, and again Ms. Fitzpatrick was at the forefront.

Under Ms. Fitzpatrick's leadership the foundation has become a trusted resource for those in a position to share the fruits of their own success with the community. The formula is a basic one but not so easily achieved - attract the money, grow it, and use it effectively - and Ms. Fitzpatrick played a big part in the foundation doing it well. She has provided a great service to this community.

Meanwhile, former state Rep. Tom Reynolds of Ledyard will temporarily take over direction of the Gemma Moran United Way/Labor Food Bank, another key charitable organization in the area. It operates under the auspices of the local United Way. The food bank plays a critical role in distributing food to nearly 100 food pantries, soup kitchens, day care centers and senior centers in southeastern Connecticut, helping feed an estimated 20,000 people.

Mr. Reynolds, who gave up his House seat to make an unsuccessful run for state Senate, was an outlier in pushing for creative solutions to the fiscal problems facing the state. He now hopes to bring some fresh perspective to the functions of the food bank, looking to improve efficiency and expand services, such as offering advice on healthier eating choices. He has made a six-month commitment.

We wish Ms. Fitzpartick well in her pending retirement and Mr. Reynolds success in his new undertaking.

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