What type of world do we want to live in? Since getting married in 1990, Karen and Gerry Goldberg have lived by the principle, “let’s make the world better than we found it.” Today, they continue to chart a philanthropic journey by supporting community initiatives with their time, energy, and dollars, all in support of this shared guiding principle.

Their connection to our community began in 1991, when Karen and Gerry moved to West Hartford, CT to raise their children in a warm, welcoming community. They still reflect fondly on those early days — a time when new acquaintances would slowly transition into cherished friends and mentors.

“When we moved here, people invited us to their homes for meals and made us feel incredibly welcome,” says Karen. “Everyone made us feel so special.”

Inspired by this welcoming community and driven to pay it forward, the Goldbergs spent the next 30 years investing in this community: first through volunteerism, and then over time, through charitable giving.

“Early on, we weren’t in a financial position to do a lot more than volunteer with local organizations, but we felt it was important to give however we could,” explained Gerry, a Jewish Community Foundation Trustee and Past President of the Board of Directors of what is now the New England Jewish Academy. “Since we first arrived in West Hartford 30 years ago, our financial situation has changed, and it has enabled us to not only give of our time but also to invest our money in organizations that are making a real difference.”

For Karen and Gerry, their giving has been largely focused on education and providing for those who cannot provide for themselves. This has encompassed a wide array of initiatives including but not limited to early childhood grants to bolster academic and extracurricular educational programing as well as direct support for local food banks. For them, the “why” behind this giving comes down to supporting the sustainability of a community that has given so much to them over the years.

“We invest in West Hartford because we think it’s an amazing community with so many great people,” says Gerry. “We feel a great sense of commitment and connection here — and supporting our community is important and an integral part of our spiritual journey.”

In recent years, the Goldbergs have considered how their philanthropic journey could continue beyond their own lifetimes. After careful consideration, they determined that part of the answer will be through the Foundation’s LIFE & LEGACY initiative, and the couple recently committed to making an after-lifetime gift of $1 million. This generous gift will be divided among their favorite local institutions and is intended to match what they have already given to charitable organizations within the community at large.

“It has been said that it’s just as important to give with warm hands as it is with cold feet,” says Karen, referring to a biblical notion of giving back to communities while you are alive as opposed to just waiting until after you are gone. “This legacy gift will help to achieve our goal of building a wellspring of financial stability in the community that will endure beyond our own life spans,” added Karen. “The organizations we selected to be part of our legacy gift have been essential to the past and present and will be critical to the future of our community,” says Gerry. “Each organization plays an important role in strengthening our communal ecosystem, and we feel privileged and proud to help.” 

For Karen and Gerry, their 30-year philanthropic journey has helped define the type of world they would like to live in, and their work continues to this day.

Whatever you cherish most about Jewish life, a Legacy gift can make it last forever. To explore your Legacy giving options, contact Kathryn Gonnerman – kgonnerman at jcfhartford.org.

Donor StoriesThe Goldbergs: Past, Present and Future