A Fresh Face for the Foundation

A Fresh Face for the Foundation

As a leader in the business community (Executive Vice President of Acme Monaco Corporation) and as the newly elected chairperson of the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain’s Community Initiatives Committee, Rebecca Karabin-Ahern is among those at the forefront of helping the Foundation address key community issues through strategic leadership. CFGNB’s “Where Good Begins” recently sat with Rebecca to discuss the importance of giving back, the Foundation’s work in the community and her part in it.

Tell us how you are involved in the community and why it is so important to give back.

My siblings and I started volunteer work at a young age. My parents (Diane and Michael Karabin of Karabin Farms, Southington) always felt that we should give back to the community we live and work in, whether it was at the hospital, through our church or elsewhere – it’s just been ingrained in us from the beginning. Here at Acme Monaco, which is our family business, we all give a lot of our time to organizations like the Klingberg Family Centers, Junior Achievement and of course my part with the Community Foundation. I’ve also been fortunate enough to be very involved in the work of the New Britain Lions Club, the New Britain-Berlin YMCA and the Board of Trustees of Mooreland Hill School.

How did you become involved with the Community Foundation?

I first learned about the Community Foundation about 10 years ago, and my husband Scott and I chose to make a donation. Since that time I’ve been following the Foundation’s work closely, and have been very impressed with the sweeping nature of the causes it supports and the work it does. Longtime board member Paul Salina, who I’ve known and respected my entire life, approached me to consider joining the board.

It’s such an incredible feeling to be a part of this board because the Foundation touches so many different lives in our communities. We have a real opportunity here to not only continue the Foundation’s legacy but to really reshape our communities for years to come; I feel blessed to be a part of such a dynamic group doing such wonderful work.

Talk about the work of the Community Initiatives Committee and how it is helping to shape today’s Community Foundation.

The committee’s role is an important one because we are researching and assessing the very community causes and projects that the Foundation will ultimately choose as signature funding initiatives. The committee itself is relatively new, and the very fact that a Community Initiatives Committee exists speaks to the evolving role of the Foundation in the communities it serves. For a number of years the Foundation has had roundtable discussions in each of our communities, where we invite members of the community to voice their opinions about community issues, and those sessions have provided us with great pearls of wisdom and insight. But, through the work of this committee, we are stepping up our game and will be looking at professional research to truly and accurately document what issues our citizens are most concerned about.

This is all coming at a very good time, a time when our communities can benefit from organizations like the Foundation taking on a leadership role. First Years First, our early childhood development initiative, is a great example; this program has been such a success, we’ve contributed to positive change such as implementation of all-day kindergarten in all of our towns, training of day care providers and so much more, and it is making a difference in people’s lives. We’re looking to do even more of this type of work.

Tell us about the personal reward you feel from being involved with the Foundation and the work it is doing.

It’s all really very exciting, and personally rewarding. It’s one thing to sit in meetings and talk about ideas, but it is quite another to actually see the ideas you’ve talked about taking shape and impacting lives. That’s what we’re seeing with First Years First. That initiative is proof positive that the Foundation is more than just a grant maker. We are looking to get elbows deep in some of the key issues and challenges facing our communities so that, with our resources and leadership, we can help chart a new path.