Giving Back

TAPinto Westfield Profile: Betsy Chance, Executive Director of the Westfield Foundation

Betsy Chance, executive director of the Westfield Foundation.

WESTFIELD, NJ — For 23 years, Betsy B. Chance has served as executive director of the Westfield Foundation, established in 1975 by a group of civic-minded leading citizens  — H. Emerson Thomas, Frank Ketcham, Bob Mulreany and Donn Snyder, who each put in $500 to officially form the foundation.

The aim — then and now — centers on enhancing and supporting the quality of life in Westfield. The coffers grew substantially over the years with a mixture of modest contributions rolling in, augmented by extremely generous supporters such as Charles Anderson, who donated more than $1 million. More recently, some contributions have exceeded Anderson's initial largesse. Since its inception, the foundation has distributed $6,400,000 to various organizations. This quarter alone, $93,262 was allocated to multiple recipients, which are listed on the website at thewestfieldfoundation.com.

Betsy Chance explained the way the non-profit foundation operates.

Sign Up for E-News

“We have a 15-member board of trustees that meets quarterly to determine the beneficiaries of funds. Each member serves a maximum of two three-year terms. That way we have an influx of new ideas, new backgrounds and new experiences. We don’t want to become stagnant,” she said. “The atmosphere at our meetings is always collegial. In fact, virtually everyone is sorry to leave us.”

At the helm of the Westfield Foundation is Janet Sarkos, president, who also serves as executive director of Caring Contact.

“Janet is a gem,” said Chance. “As current president, she is insightful, energetic and very thoughtful. Janet acts on what she believes and thinks things through.”

Sarkos returned the compliments.  

“Betsy is the heart and soul of the Westfield Foundation,” she said. “As trustees, we come and go but we’re only able to do that because we know that the organization rests of the able shoulders of Betsy. She understands and honors the history of the foundation while always keeping her sights set on the future, maintaining the stability and integrity that the organization has enjoyed for over 40 years."

Gail Cassidy, who served as president of the foundation from 1999 to 2005, agreed.

 “I thoroughly enjoyed my two terms as president," said the 45-year Westfield resident. “I believe there would be unanimity among trustees, especially all who’ve served as president, that Betsy is the brains behind and the success of the Westfield Foundation. She takes care of everything and makes all of us look good. It was a true pleasure working with her.”

Chance’s multifaceted background made her ripe for the challenges as foundation director. Born and raised in the Youngstown, Ohio area, Elizabeth Bruhn Chance graduated from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio in 1972. That’s where she met her husband, Terry. She went on to earn a Masters in Criminal Justice from Michigan State before the couple married. They remained in Ohio for about a year while she worked as a community liaison for the county sheriff until Terry accepted an offer back east from Compass Maritime Services in Teaneck, where is now a partner.

For a brief time they lived on Staten Island where Betsy Chance took a clerical job with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service that she described as “pure drudgery.” In 1975, they bid goodbye to Staten Island, choosing Westfield for their home. In 1980 they welcomes daughter, Sarah, followed two years later by Megan. During their early school years, their mom became a part time paralegal working from home for the local firm of McDonough, Corn and Eichorn.

Sarah and her husband, Colin, live in Scotch Pains with their son Liam, 5, and daughter Lainey, 18 months old. Sarah is a senior publicist for Crown Publishing while Megan's career went in an entirely different direction as a horse trainer and riding instructor in North Carolina where she and her husband, Ryan, live with their son Alex, 10.

When her children matured, Chance took on the responsibilities of the foundation, devoting four days per week with fluctuating hours depending on the workload.  She was constantly motivated by the wide spectrum of challenges, she said.

“I love the job because I do so many different things, from clerical to the issuance of scholarship checks and managing community grants,” she said. “You get to see everything. It’s very rewarding helping non-profits who operate on a shoestring. We have managed to give much needed support for community needs and we’re always looking for new projects, new programs and helping with capital needs in our community.”

For example, she said, “Say a furnace dies and you don't have that need in your budget. We step in for needs of that kind.”

The foundation's overall mission is to enhance and support quality of life issues for Westfield citizens in far-ranging ways. Support goes to organizations involved in the arts, health, aging, historic preservation, social services and civic projects.  

“The foundation can be viewed as a ‘savings account’ for the community,” Cassidy explained, “for building a charitable endowment that will exist into the future while still utilizing a portion of income from that endowment for current grants as seed money for capital needs not met within operating budgets, or for special projects which could not otherwise be funded.”

But where does the majority of that capital come from?

“Tom Phelan and his law partner Bill Peek, have been responsible for a lot of our funding,” Chance said. “When clients are seeking his counsel on estate planning, Tom says they often choose Westfield Foundation for a bequest. That’s where the bulk of our assets comes from.” Then the trustees determine how to allocate the funds.

Phelan shared his take on the topic along with his admiration for Chance.

“The Westfield Foundation is an amazing resource for the community,” he said. “It has the funds to respond to the needs of the community and to initiate projects of lasting value for the town. Betsy is a tireless advocate for the foundation. She not only does an amazing job of keeping the books, including differentiating the many, many funds held within the foundation, but she is also the fact of the foundation, representing it at meetings throughout the year, with organizations and individuals seeking information about the foundation and encouraging them to seek grants when appropriate.”

Sarkos summed up the non-profit foundation’s reliance on Chance: “Betsy is a rock.  As president, she makes my job very easy.”

To contact the Westfield Foundation, call 908-23-9787 or email foundation@westfieldnj.com.  The office is located in the train station on North Avenue.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

Details Emerge After Fatal Car Crash in Union Sunday

November 19, 2017

UNION, NJ – The events leading up to a deadly crash Sunday began at about 4 p.m., when police were summoned to the Target/Whole Foods stores on Vauxhall Road to assist with an alleged shoplifter resisting arrest.

According to Union police, officers attempted to arrest the suspect, who was violently resisting, shouting that he had AIDS. The suspect bit one of the ...

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting Nov. 14

November 16, 2017

COUNSELING DEPARTMENT REPORT

Maureen Mazzarese, Director of Counseling in the Westfield Public Schools, prepared a report summarizing the department’s missions, goals and practices in supporting our K-12 students and their families.  Here are some highlights which briefly summarize the comprehensive report:
 

At every grade level, counselors are working with students ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_79fa8c672d731919f994_tap_building

Tue, November 21, 7:00 PM

Municipal Building, Westfield

Westfield Town Council Meeting

Community Calendar Government

Carousel_image_24b0bab667753b5ceada_1d4v8952

Wed, November 22, 5:00 AM

Westfield Area YMCA, Westfield

Free Wellness Wednesday at Westfield Area YMCA

Carousel_image_0cb7a940ec81dc5427cd_mini_magick20171117-117157-wacd44

Thu, November 23, 1:00 PM

Martin Wallberg American Legion Post 3, Westfield

Thanksgiving Dinner for Veterans

Food & Drink Giving Back

Wardlaw + Hartridge Middle School Thespians Put on a Musical Show

November 19, 2017

EDISON, NJ -- Bravo to the Wardlaw + Hartridge Middle School students for entertaining the audience with two fantastic performances in The Little Mermaid Jr. in the new Berry Performing Arts Center last Friday.

Among the show's many stars were Sydney Racine of Piscataway as Ariel, Naischa Puri of Edison as Ursula, Aum Mehta of Edison as Sebastian, Julian Kaniuka of North Plainfield as ...

Westfield Police Blotter: Cars Stolen from Driveways & More

November 15, 2017

November 9, 2017 11:34 p.m.

Officers Natale and Johnson arrested Ralph Cortese Jr., age 47, of Blairstown, NJ, on the strength of an active Paterson Municipal Court warrant in the amount of $750 pursuant to a motor vehicle stop. Subject was transported to headquarters, processed and released on recognizance.

 

November 8, 2017 5:38 p.m.

Officer Jackus and R. Johnson arrested ...

Black Cat Missing in Westfield

UPDATE: Found.

ORIGINAL POST: Black cat went missing on Grove Street near Central Avenue Sunday. He was not wearing a collar. 

If you see him please call 908-962-8677

Great Places to Take Holiday Photos in the Westfield Area

’Tis the season to cajole your family to wear matching outfits, bribe the kiddos with candy canes and chocolates, and somehow balance reindeer antler onto your pet’s head. What to do for your holiday photos this year? Why not take advantage of all of the great outdoor backdrops in our quaint towns and parks? Local businesses and townships also have some photo ops scheduled that will ...

Recovering from Addiction

November 16, 2017

You don’t recover from an addiction by just quitting.  You recover by creating a new life where it is easier to not use.  If you do not create a new life for yourself, then all the factors that led you to your addiction will eventually catch up with you again.  AA teaches that you must change people, places and things.

You don’t have to change everything in your ...

The First Holiday Season Without Your Person — Making a Plan, Checking it Twice

If you are facing your first holiday after an important person in your life has died, it’s not too early to come up with a plan. Watching others who are feeling thankful and are celebrating when we feel overwhelmed, lonely or sad can be very painful. Holidays force us to realize how much our lives have been changed by the loss of our loved one.   

The first step in coping ...

Westfield Area Y Men’s Club Annual Tree Sale About to Begin

For over 65 years, the Westfield Area Y Men's Club has held its annual Christmas Tree Sale at the Elm Street field. All proceeds are donated to local charities and non-profit organizations. The event is run by club members from Westfield, Scotch Plains, Mountainside and Cranford, along with many volunteers from area organizations and local youth.

The trees will be delivered and lot ...

5 Ways for Small Business Owners to Separate Business and Personal Finances

I suspect most business owners that provide for their families would argue that nearly all business matters are personal! Unfortunately, too many times I have seen clients, intentionally or not, commingle their personal objectives with their business. This can quickly lead to decision making that has calamitous results for both your personal and business planning.

Here are five issues I hear ...

Celebrating the Holidays After a Divorce – How Separated Couples Choose to Share Time With Their Children Can Make a Big Difference

With the holidays approaching, people are busy making travel arrangements and shopping lists, digging out old recipes and getting their homes ready for what is arguably one of the most family oriented times of the year. However for couples with children who are ending their marriage or relationship these times come with an added layer of concern as to how they will share time with their children ...

November 20 Deadline for Westfield BOE Kindergarten Survey

At the Westfield Board of Education meeting on Nov. 14, Long Range Planning Chair Mark Friedman announced that Monday, Nov. 20, is the deadline for Westfield residents to submit the survey on full-day kindergarten. The 3-minute survey, which includes background information on the topic – including potential facility expansion and operating costs – is available ...

Obituaries

Oct 24, 1926 - Aug 14, 2017
Elizabeth H. List, 90, of Westfield and Cape May, NJ, died peacefully surrounded by her family ...
Read more

Hub City Native, Longtime Boxer, Facing Off for Global Title in Atlantic City This Weekend

November 17, 2017

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — New Brunswick native and legendary boxer Jorge “King” Diaz has certainly had his ups and downs over the years, and in some ways, he’s epitomized the rags to riches story.

Diaz was born in New Brunswick and throughout his youth, moved around to Puerto Rico, Franklin Township and North Brunswick, before finally settling down in Somerset some years ...