The Cohen-DeToro Charitable Fund

Est. 2008 as a donor advised fund by Frances Ann DeToro and James E. Cohen.

Frances Ann DeToro and James E. Cohen

One of six children growing up in a close-knit second generation Italian-American family in North Haven, Fran DeToro has vivid childhood memories of community giving.

She learned well from her grandfather, Ciro Paolella, who came to America, traveling alone, at age 17. In 1928 he founded the Plasticrete Corporation, which at its height employed more than 1,000 people throughout the New Haven area. Ciro was deeply appreciative of the rewards his hard work had brought to his family, and became committed to helping those in need.

And her grandfather's example of doing for others had a tremendous impact on young Fran. Soon after her college graduation, Fran moved to California. That first year, she and her siblings received letters from their father, Frank, asking that, instead of Christmas gifts, each of his children make a personal contribution to their respective communities. That simple request remains her most memorable lesson in personal giving.

Returning later to Connecticut, she volunteered for the New Haven Public Library's "Books Sandwiched In" program, the United Way's Day of Caring, Long Wharf Theatre and its Gala committee, and Women's Health Research at Yale, where she was a Board member.

"As you get older, you tend to focus on something and really try to make a difference," said Ms. DeToro. "Throughout my life I have been truly blessed. I have good health, a loving husband, family and friends, and feel strongly about lending a hand wherever I can."

Ms. DeToro is also committed to expanding her giving in the Valley by establishing the Cohen-DeToro Charitable Fund at the Valley Community Foundation with her husband, Jamie Cohen. Grants from their Fund have gone to Shelton's Center Stage Theater, Derby Public Library, Griffin Hospital's Cancer Center, Ansonia High School Human Relations Club, and the Derby Historical Society, among others.

"My husband is a shining example of someone who truly lives a life of giving back - both personally and professionally. Through Jamie, I have become connected to the people and the causes that are so important to the Valley community - its history, its children and families, and its future. I am proud to support the great work that is being done here and to have our Fund become a part of the Valley Community Foundation."