Helen Robinson Wright

On the far left of the fireplace, near the door, is a bronze plaque that honors Helen Robinson Wright, who was a longtime member and supporter of The First Parish. Her father, G. Frederick Robinson, was one of the authors of "Great Little Watertown," a Watertown history published in 1930 at the 300th anniversary of the founding of Watertown.

Mrs. Wright served as Treasurer of the parish for many years. She not only made many generous contributions to The First Parish, but frequently helped individuals. She had a standing arrangement with a local fuel dealer to provide fuel to needy families at her expense.

When she died she not only left a generous bequest to First Parish but also left her house to an unspecified charitable organization, to be determined by the trustees of her estate. After several organizations declined, the trustees offered the house to The First Parish. After considerable discussion, The First Parish accepted.

The First Parish already had a parsonage, so it tried to sell the house to an organization that would use it appropriately. There were no takers. Finally, it was decided to sell the house on the open market with appropriate preservation covenants. It was eventually sold and converted for offices and condominiums. The house is the Miles Pratt House at 106 Mt. Auburn St. Its preservation is supervised by SPNEA.

The proceeds of the sale were used to endow the Helen Robinson Wright Charitable Trust. (Trustee John Lathrop deserves much of the credit for the idea that the proceeds be put into a charitable trust rather than simply added to the existing endowments).

There is an annual income of $8000 - $12000. This income is disbursed by a committee appointed by the Parish Committee. The guidelines are that the donations be local and not to well-financed "commercial" charities. Over the years, the fund has helped needy individuals by providing security deposits or household furnishings. It has the ability to respond quickly and without red tape and "catch22's".

When the Project Literacy, a program of the Watertown Public Library, was about to go under for lack of funds, Helen Robinson Wright Charitable Trust made a donation of $2500 plus a matching grant of $2500 to put it back on its feet. In 1988 the trust helped support a performance of "Cinderella" by the Watertown Children's Theater which included both hearing and deaf children. The fund supports the Watertown Food Pantry; Bristol Lodge, a homeless shelter; and the Waltham Battered Women Support Committee. Guidance counselors and school nurses in the Watertown Public Schools have been provided with a discretionary fund to pay for medical exams, eyeglasses, and even winter coats for children.

And yes, through Munhall Fuel Co., fuel assistance is still provided. The generous spirit of Helen Robinson Wright lives on.

35 Church Street, Watertown, MA 617-924-6143 fpwatertown at comcast.net