Jane Eyre

Nurturing a Lifelong Love of Theatre through Volunteerism and Philanthropy

By Claire Stermer, Development Apprentice

Carol Scoville is not only a generous Shakespeare Society donor who has listed Hartford Stage in her personal legacy giving plans; but shortly after her mother’s passing in 2011, she also honored her wishes and gave a planned gift on behalf of her mother. As a second generation Shakespeare Society donor, a longtime volunteer usher, patron and friend of Hartford Stage, Carol’s support will live on at Hartford Stage for years to come.

Carol grew up on Long Island and credits her parents for instilling in her an appreciation and passion for the arts at a young age. When she was around 11 or 12 years old, her parents took her to see Oklahoma –her first theatrical performance. From that moment on, every other hobby paled in comparison. Whether it was skiing with a friend or trying out other activities, she just knew she’d rather be at the theatre.

Helen Wills, Carol’s mother, was a frequent patron of the Hartford Symphony, Hartford Ballet, and Hartford Stage. It meant so much to Helen to engage the senior community in the arts; and she was very fond of taking a group bus to the theatre with her community from Duncaster. Carol recalls that, even in her 90’s, Helen still enjoyed attending shows at Hartford Stage.

Helping her mother with her estate planning, Carol noted Helen was quick to include Hartford Stage as one of the nonprofits for which she would bequeath a gift. This was not surprising because Carol fondly remembers her mother raising her to be philanthropic; and not only does she recognize the value of monetary gifts, but she is proud to donate her time.

Carol became a volunteer usher at Hartford Stage in the 70s, when the theatre was located on Kinsley Street. She has volunteered her time for nearly all the Artistic Directors at Hartford Stage and finds it fascinating to see the changes over the years. One major change she’s noticed is the increased focus on broadening audiences by tapping into all areas of the community to make Hartford Stage more accessible. She is especially excited to see more of this from the theatre’s new leadership.

Between volunteering her time as an usher for several Connecticut theatres, Carol stays busy as an avid golfer and a volunteer at her church. She enjoys the Tuesday night talkbacks at Hartford Stage, as well as the Open Technical Rehearsals and backstage tours.

Today, there are many tax-advantaged vehicles available as one considers estate planning or an outright gift to benefit the future of Hartford Stage – and it’s as easy as talking to your accountant, lawyer or financial planner. Carol is choosing to give a planned gift through her IRA, and Helen left a bequest in her will, but the following are more examples of ways to leave a legacy and generously support our work: gifts of life insurance, retirement plan assets, charitable gift annuities, a donor-advised fund, a stock gift through a specific bequest, or a testamentary trust. For information about tax benefits, and other financial planning questions, Hartford Stage strongly recommends consulting with a qualified professional.

If you are a member of our Shakespeare Society, save the date for an upcoming Shakespeare Society “Thank You” event – High Tea with Jane Eyre Director and Adaptor Elizabeth Williamson and select members of the cast on Thursday, March 12, at 2:30 pm.

Carol Scoville
Helen Wills. Photo courtesy of Carol Scoville.
Helen Wills. Photo courtesy of Carol Scoville.

To become a member of the Shakespeare Society, or to learn more about planned giving, contact Kati-Liss Hensel, Major Gifts and Planned Giving Manager, at or (860) 520-7243.