Williamstown Community Chest bequeathed nearly $750K from Flynt estate

From left, Henry and Mary Flynt

WILLIAMSTOWN — The Williamstown Community Chest is the beneficiary of a nearly $750K bequest from the estate of Henry N. Flynt Jr. and his wife Mary. The financial gift is the largest received by the entity to date.

"We are excited and honored and we feel privileged to be able to carry on the Flynts' dedication and commitment to the community," said Anna Singleton, executive director of the nonprofit agency.

The gift was given on the condition that it must be used to create an endowment fund benefitting endeavors that improve the lives of Williamstown residents. Applications for the first-time grant funds will be available July 15 on the Community Chest website at www.WilliamstownCommunityChest.org, by emailing info@WilliamstownCommunityChest.org or by calling 413-458-2443. The application deadline is Sept 15.

Henry Flynt died July 11, 2015 and Mary Flynt died in January 2014. The couple was well-known and well-respected throughout the community. Henry Flynt was a Community Chest president for two years and also served as board member to the House of Local History, Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation, the Williamstown Theater Festival and the Historic Commission. He also served as an Historic Deerfield trustee. Mary Flynt volunteered for more than 40 years at the former Women's Exchange as well as donating time to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Recording for the Blind and the First Congregational Church.

"In their lives the Flynts did so much for individuals and the community," Singleton said.

Community Chest President Kathy McKnight said that the Flynts always led by example and enjoyed all aspects of the town.

"They set an example of service to neighbors and to organizations that makes Williamstown a strong community and we are proud to follow their lead," she said in a statement.

Singleton said that attorney Bruce Grinnell made the agency aware of the gift late last year.

"It was a wonderful surprise, right out of the blue," she said.

The bequest terms mandate that the revenues be used to establish an endowment fund, with 5 percent of the fund's value on January 1 of each year to be distributed as grants via a competitive process "to persons or entities (including the Town of Williamstown) that provide services to the town or its residents (although not necessarily exclusively.)"

Criteria for applications are endeavors that "relate to the maintenance or improvement of the quality of life of the residents of Williamstown, defined broadly."

Juliet Flynt said that the grant demonstrates her parents' desire to improve the community.

"My parents were committed to improving the quality of life for the residents of Williamstown, so it's fitting that this grant is designed to continue that legacy," she said in written remarks.

The Community Chest group has used revenues from other financial gifts to provide grants, said Singleton and board member James Mahon.

"The Flynt grant will only strengthen the Community Chest's ability to serve Williamstown and the surrounding area," he said.

The town community chest was founded in 1927. A volunteer board of directors conduct an annual fundraising campaign and uses 100 percent of the money to support 16 local human service agencies. Member agencies have changed from time to time and are subject to an annual review, according to information provided by the community chest group.