For this, our philanthropy issue, I’m taking this page to talk about the Newman family. For many of us, they epitomize heartfelt philanthropy. Seemingly, Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman had everything they needed in life—successful careers, remarkable talent, unworldly good looks, and terrific children—and they chose our small town, far from Hollywood, to live. It seems that decision served a desire to be grounded to place and connected with neighbors.
I see that intention in much of what the couple did for this town over the years, most notably working to secure a bright future for a renovated Playhouse—one with meaningful productions and broad interaction with the community (how many of us have been to this landmark for a show, an awards presentation, a concert, or lecture?). The family also helped preserve land (have you walked the Newman Poses Nature Preserve? It’s a gorgeous piece of the great outdoors, with fields, a stream, and terrific climbing trees for the kids). And then there are the innumerable, quiet ways they participated in programs at the Westport Historical Society, the Westport Arts Center, the Westport Library, Project Return, and others. They founded a restaurant devoted to using fresh, healthy, local ingredients. All this, and neighbors still enjoy telling stories of spotting Paul and Joanne shopping in town—in other words, living here. And yet they continued to reach further, aware of broader communities and larger commitments, namely Newman’s Own and Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.
Newman’s Own started as a homemade gift for a friend and, now, for 2013 alone, pledges $30 million in charitable donations. Hole in the Wall also started with a simple, kind idea—this one to preserve the authenticity of childhood, even for those who require serious medical attention. Now it runs camps worldwide and in-hospital “camps” year-round.
The germ of an idea—simply giving back and living simply—sprouted and thrived in this couple’s hands. Now it blossoms under the care of their three remarkable daughters: Nell, Clea and Lissy, each uniquely talented, centered and sleeves-rolled-up philanthropic.
We hope you enjoy this issue, published on the eve of a holiday season that reminds us to celebrate community, to be grateful for what we have, to care for one another, to face challenges and to nurture what is good. Here we celebrate more neighbors who cherish and live these qualities. They allowed us to share their stories in the hopes of shining light on their philanthropic concerns. Page by page, you’ll find reasons to be especially proud of your hometown.