Stella Behuniak Fund

Est. 2016 to provide scholarships to graduating students of Seymour High School

Stella Behuniak

Some people give back to the Valley community in very public ways: by donating sums of money, volunteering their time at local organizations, or serving on Boards. Others do so in a quieter fashion, helping neighbors and providing a warm, welcoming space for children and teens living in the community. Such was the case for Stella Behuniak of Seymour.

Born in Ansonia, one of twelve children, Stella quit school at age 15 to help support her family, which she did until she married Peter at 21 and moved to Seymour, where they enjoyed the next 60 years together.

“She was a wonderful mother to her four children and a great Baba to her seven beloved grandchildren,” son Peter said. “Although she never went back to school, she understood the value of education and was always happy about the great foundation the Seymour school system provided us.”

Stella spoke openly to her children about wanting to have her passing help a child in need in some small way. This came as no surprise for those who loved her because the Behuniak home had always been a hub for neighborhood children and classmates, including a number with special needs, who remain friends of the family to this day.

“Her idea was to use any donations, in lieu of flowers, to help a Seymour graduate with the cost of transition, whether that be to college or work or independent living,” said daughter Christine Spak.

Because the children are now spread throughout the state, they were not sure they could carry out her wishes, given the difficulty of making arrangements in time to notify people who might want to contribute in lieu of flowers. Christine first approached Seymour High School, who directed her to the Valley Community Foundation.

The Behuniak family had no familiarity with the Foundation prior to their mother’s death. But any concerns were put at ease once they were in contact with VCF President and CEO Sharon Closius. They were thrilled that a small amount could be set aside – to award immediately in 2016 – as the family continues to grow the fund.

“We really appreciated VCF’s flexibility,” Peter said, “and it’s a continuing source of comfort to know that our family will always be involved in some way, to ensure that the scholarship each year is presented in accordance with our mother’s wishes.”

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Stella Behuniak Fund