A Family’s Love and Loss Leaves a Legacy to Help Women in our Community
In 2000, Josephine and Russell McMillen created two funds at the Connecticut Community Foundation in honor of their daughter, Lois Livingston McMillen, an accomplished fine artist and champion of women’s rights whose life was tragically cut short. The funds are a testament to Lois’ accomplishments and interests and, as her parents wished, recognize the contributions Lois would have made to her community in her lifetime. Through the funds, Lois’s legacy will last forever.
One fund, the Lois Livingston McMillen Fund, reflects one of Lois’s passions: helping victims of domestic violence and abuse. The fund provides tens of thousands of dollars each year to support agencies that provide critical services to women in our region. One current recipient, the Susan B. Anthony Project, uses its McMillen Fund grant to support a crisis hotline, emergency shelter, transitional housing, counseling, advocacy, and support groups. “We’re honored that we’ve received support from the Lois Livingston McMillen fund since 2008,” said Barbara Spiegel, Executive Director of Susan B. Anthony Project. “Without this funding, we could not guarantee that we would have staff available at all times to support the numerous victims seeking assistance.”
Another recipient, Safe Haven of Waterbury, has been able to use McMillen funding over several years to enhance and expand a variety of services. “Most recently, grant support has allowed us to provide an Art Therapy program for adults who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. This program has been extremely helpful for victims who are recovering from the trauma they have suffered,” explains Peggy Panagrossi, Executive Director at Safe Haven.
The second fund – the Lois Livingston McMillen Memorial Scholarship Fund – provides scholarships to women studying the fine arts. Lois herself studied at the Parson’s School of Design and with McMillen Scholarships, many other women are able to follow in her footsteps. Jessica Bonaventure, one of several McMillen scholarship recipients, has seen her dreams become reality.
With the help of her scholarship, Jessica, a student in the Theatrical Design program at Fordham University, has already designed sets for a number of university and community productions. “With the generous support from the McMillen Scholarship, I am able to attend one of the best undergraduate theatre programs in the country. By allowing me to pursue this education, I am gaining the tools that I will use throughout my successful career,” comments Bonaventure. With their generous gift, born out of loss but meant to provide hope, Josephine and Russell McMillen have ensured that their daughter will touch the lives of other women forever – Timeless Impact.