When people ask Selim Noujaim why he immigrated from his native Lebanon to settle in Waterbury, his answer is simple: “I followed a Waterbury girl.” Selim and his wife Linda, a Waterbury native, met years ago in Lebanon while she was visiting family there. Six years later, he flew to the United States and they married.
After the births of their three daughters, Selim and Linda became committed to shaping their community’s future. As the Noujaims see it, building community equity starts with the right attitude, and the Noujaims enthusiastically dove into volunteerism as a way to learn about the needs of their neighbors. They also taught their daughters the importance of volunteering and stressed giving back to the community as a moral obligation.
Selim explains, “Through volunteerism, we learned about the missions of charitable institutions, including but not limited to Connecticut Community Foundation and all the excellent work they do. When the time was right, we decided to meet the Foundation staff and trust them with expanding our mission of giving.” He adds, “We believe in supporting charitable endeavors, especially those that help people that are born with a disability.” Linda and Selim have also been instrumental in helping make education affordable for local youth. “Empowering youth to create a better world should be a key mission,” Selim says, “after all, we’ll eventually entrust our youth to enhance the standards of our communities.”
Giving to the arts is also an essential philanthropic mission that the Noujaims believe is crucial for local culture and heritage. In their opinion, arts and culture are not simply a luxury but a way to boost and revitalize disadvantaged communities.
Grounded in these priorities, the Noujaims have established a legacy fund at Connecticut Community Foundation that will be funded through their estate plans. It will be designated to support the arts; educational programs that emphasize civics and citizenship; programs that provide services and education to people with developmental disabilities; and programs that provide job training and education for economically disadvantaged people. Selim and Linda have instructed the Foundation to consider efforts in the following towns for potential grants from their fund: Waterbury, Prospect, Wolcott, Naugatuck, Middlebury, Woodbury, Southbury, Oakville, Watertown, Litchfield, and Torrington.
A lifetime of careful research, experience, and application has shaped Selim and Linda Noujaim’s philanthropic goals. They hope that when they leave this earth, they’ll leave a sparkling reputation and a legacy consisting of a desire to contribute to the betterment of those who remain here and who need a boost during difficult times.