MIDDLETOWN — Two funds have recently awarded grants in the name of environmentalist and advocate Katchen Coley, who died last year.
The Katchen Coley Society has awarded seven grants to clients and programs of the Connection, Inc., and is raising money to award more grants this fall.
The society was formed last year shortly before Coley's death at 89 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Coley, one of the co-founders of the Connection, Inc. in 1972, was a lifelong believer in redemption for people battling drug addiction, and was known as a tenacious and passionate worker for the causes she believed in.
Among the grants were tuition assistance for two Connection clients. One was able to finish his high school education and one took the final course needed to complete a bachelor's degree program.
Some of the $6,000 awarded paid for an outing on the Connecticut River for homeless people staying at the Eddy Shelter. The program included food and a history of the river, said Philip Rockwell, senior manager at the Connection.
The Katchen Coley Society is made up of Connection staff members, friends and colleagues of Coley. The society was announced before her death, and the Connection received donations to help carry on Coley's work.
"Katchen was a great believer in second chances for people who deserved them," said Beth Connor, director of communications and fund development at the Connection.
Connor said the Katchen Coley Society will seek staff recommendations for worthy recipients – individuals and programs – of grand funding. The society will then review applications before giving grants.
Coley's daughter, Kitty Coley, said her family is very excited about the effort to continue outreach to individuals in need of a helping hand.
The family has been involved with the fundraising and grant award process by helping to evaluate the applications
"She'd be really happy to see her legacy carry on," Kitty Coley said. "She started this 40 years ago. This was a lifelong project for her and I think it's important we continue to be involved."
In her later years, Coley was an active advocate for environmental conservation. The city dedicated a 50-acre parcel of open space in the Maromas area to her by naming it the Katchen Coley Mountain Laurel Preserve.
Another fund has been established in her name that will raise money to support environmental causes. The Katchen Coley Conservation Fund is managed by the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, and will soon present checks to the North End Action Team for its children's farmer's market program and to the Connecticut Forest and Parks Association for its Project Learning Tree Green Schools! program.
Cynthia Clegg, president of the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, said the fund will "keep [Coley's] legacy going and instill her passion in others" by making yearly grants to local programs.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun