NEWINGTON - A small, grass roots group spearheaded by local citizens was just granted non-profit status, designating it as a public charity.
That means those who donate to the Greater Newington Charitable Society (GNCS) can now deduct contributions on their taxes. Founded by six members of the community in mid-2016, the GNCS awarded over $5,000 to different causes in 2017.
The GNCS’ two-part mission is working to help youths and veterans in Newington and surrounding towns, while fostering a sense of volunteerism in the local community.
“Our motto is charity, integrity and fellowship,” President Melanie Tregoning said. “Volunteerism has really shrunk over the last decade or two. If we can get people involved they’ll see it’s a great thing to help others in need.”
Within the last two years, members have invested over $3,000 into Newington alone, donating to a Human Services program serving at-risk middle school students, along with the Police and Fire Fund and the Police Department’s first National Night Out.
Members also raised $3,500 for Fisher House Connecticut, the state’s first residential facility for families of seriously injured soldiers receiving treatment. The newly built housing is located near the Veterans Hospital in West Haven.
Donations were also made to Capitol Squash, which empowers Hartford youths to reach their potential as athletes, students and engaged citizens.
“One of the important things that differentiates us from other groups is the focus on the young and not so young,” Tregoning said. “People who have given back, and those who are just starting out who may have a rocky road, but with the right supports they can have a wonderful life and contribute to society.”
Veterans are very important to the Tregoning family and fellow GNCS members. Melanie’s husband, Ron, who founded the Connecticut Insurance Exchange, served in the U.S. Navy.
“We know quite a few people who have served,” she added. “We just feel that veterans need our support now more than ever. They shouldn’t be marginalized. They’ve done a great service protecting us and we both feel very strongly that they should be honored.”
Another component that separates the charity from others is that 100 percent of funds raised go to causes it supports. To maximize the charity’s impact, it operates on little to no overhead costs. Members pay for their own meals during monthly meetings and donate their time and resources towards the GNCS’ growth.
“We were a group of professionals who knew each other within the community and we wanted to continue doing philanthropic work for causes that were near and dear to our hearts,” GNCS Secretary Joane Mueller-London said. “Our busy schedules sort of lined up with the passions we shared for organizations we felt were underserved.”
As a partner at Newington law firm London & London, she worked to establish the group’s 501(c) (3) status with the Internal Revenue Service. It is retroactive to Aug. 8, 2016, rendering contributions made to the organization since that date eligible for tax-deductions this year.
The GNCS is planning a membership drive later this spring. Its second annual Indian Summer BBQ Bash is set for Nov. 3.
The inaugural fundraiser was a tremendous success and members are expecting a good turnout this year.
“We are still in our infancy but I see a really bright future ahead,” Mueller-London said. “There’s so much opportunity out there.”
The GNCS meets at 6 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month at Elaine’s Restaurant in Wethersfield. The cost of annual membership is $150. For more information, visit www.gncsociety.org or call Melanie Tregoning at 860-665-1424.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.