Paying it Forward: Berlin Resident’s Work to Foster a Healthy Environment Lives on Through New Scholarship Fund
Carolyn’s Healthy Environment Fund to Make First Award this Spring
New Britain, Conn. (March 25, 2014) – For the past 20 years, Carolyn Wysocki has worked tirelessly to help create a better, healthier way of life for those who, like her, suffer from often-debilitating sensitivities to the many harmful chemicals and additives we encounter every day through the foods we eat, the products we use and the environments we share.
And now, with the recent creation of Carolyn’s Healthy Environment Fund at the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, Carolyn’s legacy will be defined by more than her considerable impact over the years on state laws, local ordinances and public attitudes – it will also be defined by the future work of young students who go on to careers making the world a healthier and safer place to live and breathe.
“This is not ‘my’ fund, it is the community’s fund – I am simply paying it forward,” said Ms. Wysocki, a Berlin resident for more than 50 years who was born and raised in New Britain. “My mantra is ‘Prevention is my Intention.’ It is my hope that, like Johnny Appleseed, I can plant this seed for a healthier future and that the community will embrace and support it in the years to come.”
Carolyn’s Healthy Environment Fund will make one or more annual scholarships to graduating seniors from Berlin and/or New Britain High School who will be pursuing a degree in public health or environmental studies. Career goals may include, but are not limited to, public health nursing, registered sanitarian, environmental specialist, public health policy or administration, epidemiology or community health.
The Fund will make its first scholarship award this spring.
“The Community Foundation has more than 40 scholarship funds, from which we award scholarships totaling approximately $150,000 every year,” said Jim Williamson, president of the Community Foundation. “We welcome this special fund to our family and salute Ms. Wysocki for her support of young students who like her, aim to make our world a better place.”
Ms. Wysocki, a retired psychologist with the State Department of Mental Health, was diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) about 20 years ago. She also suffers from asthmatic bronchitis. Her life is a constant battle to eat organically, use chemical-free products and inhabit spaces that are free of fragrances or other toxins that could trigger a physical reaction. Such otherwise routine occurrences as going to the mall, attending a meeting in a public space or flying on a commercial airliner are major undertakings.
This has not stopped Ms. Wysocki from playing a major role in Connecticut’s efforts to lead the charge for change. She is the president of Connecticut’s Ecological Health Organization, Inc., and also serves on the board of the Central Connecticut Health District. She has lobbied at the state capitol, testified before legislative committees and advocated for environmentally friendly laws and regulations for two decades.
Thanks in part to the efforts of Carolyn and her many colleagues and other advocates nationwide, today’s world is a different place from when she was first diagnosed. Organically produced foods and fragrance-free products are ubiquitous in today’s supermarkets; the state has banned the use of toxic cleaning products in state agencies and pesticides on designated school property; and makers of baby bottles and “sippy” cups no longer manufacture these products using bisphenol A, a hardening agent linked to increased risk for cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
“When I reflect upon the last 20 years, a lot has been accomplished,” said Ms. Wysocki. “The progress that’s been made is reflective of an enormous grass roots effort involving many, many people and organizations, and I’m just privileged to be a small part of it.
“In creating this scholarship, I was thinking about the future – the future of my grandchildren, the future of the next generation,” she concluded. “This is who this scholarship is for.”
Established in 1941, the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain connects donors who care with causes that matter in Berlin, New Britain, Plainville and Southington. It does this by raising resources and developing partnerships that make a measurable improvement in the quality of life in each of these communities. For more information, visit www.cfgnb.org.