Our Founders

The Starfish Story

On Mother’s Day, 2000, Mark Wilson first heard “The Starfish Story,” about the elderly gentleman strolling along a beach and spotting a young man who was picking up starfish one by one and throwing them back into the ocean.  Upon reaching the young man, he asked why and was told that otherwise the starfish would die.  He then commented that with so many starfish scattered along the beach, the young man couldn’t possibly make a difference – to which the young man replied as he threw another back into the sea, “It made a difference for that one.”

The story and the occasion coincided with the founding of The REACH Foundation, an endeavor Mark and Wendy Gray Wilson undertook when Mark’s Power Resource Group company successfully marketed and sold its first power conversion station.  In choosing a motto and mission for their new non-profit organization, Mark selected “If in only one life, make a difference” – and so their philanthropic goals were established.  Initially the Foundation funded scholarships and continuing education grants; but the Wilsons’ concerns soon expanded to include children in need physically and socially as well as financially.

Long-time contributors to organizations such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Make-A-Wish and YMCA programs, The Wilsons have recently focused on raising awareness of children’s needs through music and the inauguration of The REACH Concert Series which strives to provide other charities (as well as their own) with a platform “reaching” beyond traditional fund-raising events and opportunities and enabling the Foundation to respond quickly when an immediate need presents itself.

In 2009 the new Wilson-Gray YMCA in Hartford’s North End was dedicated.  In 2010 Mark was awarded the Community Leader of the Year Award from Cystic Fibrosis and received national recognition with appointment to that organization’s Leadership Council.  In 2011 Mark and Wendy Wilson were selected as the St. Jude Partner in Hope recipients at a ceremony in Memphis, TN. They also received the Wish Award by the CT Make-A-Wish Chapter that is presented annually to an exemplary giver in 2010.