WESTON, Conn. — If he called to mind the ways he has serviced his community over the years, Weston's Herb Cotter could make a list.
His first bullet point would mention the foster home he and his wife started in Illinois when they realized how many teenagers were suffering with turbulent home lives.
And when they moved to Weston from Illinois in the early 1970s, Cotter's desire to help others didn’t change. Over the years, his family has extended beyond his four birth children to include more than a dozen foster kids, he said.
“There were more than that who have lived with us, but 15 is the official number,” Cotter said. “We still keep in touch with many of them.”
His second point would detail his involvement with Weston's Norfield Congregational Church, where he has been an active member for the past four decades. In that time, Cotter has served as youth group leader, treasurer and member of the board of trustees, now serving as chairman.
“The things I get excited about are direct participation with people who can use something I already have, whether it is my skills or resources,” he said.
Cotter also served as chairman for the church's annual country fair back in 1990, which he now calls one of his proudest achievements. That's when Cotter had the idea to donate all proceeds from the event to local groups in need. Since then, the church has donated a total of $1 million to organizations such as the Bridgeport Rescue Mission, the Weston Community Food Pantry and the George Washington Carver Community Center in Norwalk.
Under the last bullet point on his list, Cotter could mention his four children and seven grandchildren, whom he has already seen follow in his philanthropic footsteps.
"I think they have seen the values they have observed in us, and are now living by them in their own lives," he said.