Portraits of Generosity: Lyn and Skip Mattoon
For Lyn and Skip Mattoon, helping others is a professional and personal calling.
Lifelong educators, they settled in northwest Litchfield County following their retirement from The Hotchkiss School, where Skip was head of school and Lyn taught philosophy and literature. The son of a teacher at nearby Kent School, Skip credits the “generous ethos of independent schools” with his drive to help others. “One of their core values is giving back,” he said. “It seeped into my bloodstream.”
Conscious as a child of having advantages others didn't, Lyn continues to see widening gaps between people of different socioeconomic backgrounds. While she acknowledges it is “a difficult thing” for any one person to address, she has found practical steps to take. For instance, when a charitable fund her parents started in her home state of New Hampshire reverted to her and her sister’s care, they directed the proceeds to a University of New Hampshire program for first-generation college students.
“Berkshire Taconic is a wonderful organization that enables people to support nonprofits that they feel strongly about in an easy and effective way”
It was in New Hampshire that Lyn first learned about community foundations through Eugene Struckoff, a partner in her father’s law firm. Struckoff was called the Johnny Appleseed of community foundations for his leading role in the creation or revitalization of dozens of foundations across the U.S. “Struck was an admirable person,” Lyn remembers fondly. “Knowing his interest in community foundations, when we learned about Berkshire Taconic, we wanted to be a part of it.”
The couple opened a donor advised fund at Berkshire Taconic 20 years ago to help manage their giving. "Berkshire Taconic is a wonderful organization that enables people to support nonprofits that they feel strongly about in an easy and effective way,” Skip said.
Their fund allows them to focus on their personal philanthropic priorities. Lyn wants her giving to promote better public education and provide opportunities for students. Both are committed to environmental causes, Skip as a new board member of Sharon Land Trust and Lyn as chair of the Energy and Environment Commission in Sharon.
“Rural towns depend on volunteerism and community action,” Skip concludes. The Mattoons uphold that tradition through their service and philanthropy.