Richard M. Whitcomb Gymnasium Campaign
See the campaign brochure here.
Since its opening in 1975, the Carver Community Center has served Norwalk through events and programs that build the mind, body, and spirit for all. The most vital space in the community center is the gymnasium where events ranging from basketball tournaments to career fairs and even memorial services have met the many needs of Norwalk youth and families. The Carver Board of Directors is naming the refurbished community center gym after fellow board member Dick Whitcomb.
The campaign goal is $355,730, of which we have raised $121,118. The completed first phase of this campaign provides for a new gym floor, adjustable basketball rims and wall padding in time for summer camp this July. The second phase of the campign will add new bleachers, A/V systems, and much else by September 2019.
This effort to deepen Carver’s impact in our community is a top priority and also a fitting opportunity to recognize the tremendous example and countless contributions Dick Whitcomb has made and is making to advance the Carver mission.
In a city of more than 88,000 residents, and since the closing the Norwalk YMCA, Carver offers the only nonprofit community gymnasium.
The Richard M. Whitcomb Gymnasium at the Carver Community Center
The refurbished Carver gym will spark additional design and engagement enhancements to the Carver Community Center and meet the needs of the Norwalk community in many ways including:
Youth and teen recreation after school and during the summer
The Fairfield County Sports Commission’s Cohen Fitness Academy Development of adult recreation such as our Mo’s Summer Run program
Carver events such as STEAM Expo’s, career fairs, scholarship and student recognition awards events Food drives
Community events that celebrate holidays such as Thanksgiving and Black History Month
Events organized by community organizations and/or individuals that take place in the Richard Whitcomb Community Gymnasium
Campaign Phase Two: $234,612
Phase Two of our Campaign continues our progress toward completing a multi- purpose community and wellness center. During this phase, we are seeking the support of our neighbors and community conscious partners.
The new gym will be designed with flexibility in mind with the ability to configure the gym in a multitude of ways in order to optimize the space for a variety of programs and events. This includes full-court and multi-court capabilities for sports like basketball and volleyball, as well as community gatherings, summer camp, and special events. During sports games and special events, new retractable bleachers will be able to accommodate 200 spectators. The new facility will also include:
New audio/visual systems
200 folding chairs and 20 tables for events
Expanded and renovated storage areas
New lighting, ventilation and electrical systems
Dick Whitcomb has been a stalwart and inspirational Carver volunteer, donor, advocate and board member for decades! Without question, Carver’s year after year growth and successful programming would not have been possible without Dick’s leadership in so many ways and times. As a celebrated athlete throughout his high school and college years, and as a coach for many sports at St. Luke’s School, it is most fitting that the Carver Board of Directors is naming the refurbished Carver Community Center gymnasium after Dick Whitcomb.
Dick Whitcomb did not just take up his career in education and sports to make a living. He did it because he could not imagine living any other way. That passion took Dick from Vermont to the pinnacle of his profession in Connecticut.
In 1961, Dick Whitcomb began preparing students for success in life at St. Luke’s School in New Canaan. In 1980, after serving as the school's athletic director and football coach, Dick was named Headmaster and was pivotal in the growth and stature of the school where he remains Headmaster Emeritus. In 2002, Dick retired and then founded a scholarship fund to enable economically challenged students, many from Norwalk, an opportunity to attend St. Luke’s School.
In late 2010, Dick founded the Richard and Barbara Whitcomb Foundation to extend his philanthropy to many others, especially to the Carver community. For many years, Dick’s unofficial office has been the conference room in the Carver Community Center. In addition to general operating support, Dick is especially committed to financially supporting Carver’s college scholarship fund.
Since his earliest years at St. Luke’s School, Dick and his students have been volunteering at Carver. In 2010, Dick formed Carver’s Strategic Planning Group, which brought many new resources and leaders to the Carver community. Dick also recruited the significant financial and in-kind support necessary to renovate the Carver Community Center’s exterior and classrooms, which had not benefited from such thoroughgoing renewal since the building’s construction in 1975.
Carver awarded Dick its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, Carver’s 75th anniversary year.
Each year, Dick is a leader on the Carver Board of Directors, the committees serving each of Carver’s major special events, such as Carver’s annual gala and golf outings, and a close counselor to Carver’s CEO, Novelette Peterkin.
Dick is also a mentor to many Carver students, even throughout their college and graduate school careers.
Throughout all of his success as an educator, philanthropist, and volunteer, what has inspired Dick the most and something he has never forgotten, is the help he received as a young man growing up. He remembers all the hard work and dedication his mother gave as a single mother of three. He recalls the many individuals who stepped into his life, guided and supported him. “That’s why I’ve never been big on individual accomplishments. I don’t think anyone can be successful individually. You can’t accomplish anything without the support of others.”
Carver certainly could not have achieved what it has to date for Norwalk’s youth without Mr. Whitcomb’s unwavering and extremely generous commitment to Carver’s success.