« 2023 Annual Report

A Legacy of Caring and Love

Barry Lastra grew up in the Period of World War II. During that time, his family, parents and older brother lived with his maternal grandparents in their modest, two-bedroom rental house in Ocean Park, near Los Angeles. It was not unusual to have an aunt or uncle for dinner and spend a night or more, as it was difficult economic times. They considered themselves fortunate to live in fertile Southern California and were able to regularly forage for vegetables and fruit in the harvest leftovers at area farms. When the war ended, Barry’s family moved into a small mobile trailer. While they knew money was scarce, they had ample love, family and moral support.

These experiences would later inspire his deep desire to help families who were struggling, much like Barry’s family struggled when he was a boy. Over the years, Barry and his late wife, Alison Coolbrith, have been generous benefactors of The Village and made a lasting difference in countless lives through their support.

“I learned there are a lot of people who need a lot of help,” Barry said. “This is the beginning for what made me want to be engaged with the community. I knew it was the right thing to do to help however I could.”

Barry went on to have a storied career at Chevron Oil Company, where he worked for 36 years before retiring from his role as a public affairs executive. Alison, who had a long and distinguished career as a senior executive at Aetna, sadly passed away in 2015, leaving behind a shared legacy of giving that Barry carries out today.

Barry with his late wife and 2016 Village Girl Within Woman of the Year, Alison Coolbrith.

In 2016, Alison was posthumously named The Village’s Woman of The Year at the annual Girl Within event for the fierce and fearless energy she poured into improving the lives of others, especially women in Greater Hartford. Barry accepted the award on Alison’s behalf and—coupled with his own generosity—continues to make a lasting impact in the community
in her honor.

“When I retired, I decided that I would have a little extra something—mainly my time, as well as some money—and I wanted to be able to help other people.”
Barry Lastra, Village Legacy Donor & Board Member

“When I retired, I decided that I would have a little extra something—mainly my time, as well as some money—and I wanted to be able to help other people,” Barry said. “I thought: what better use of my time than working to help those who need it?”

Through his generosity, Barry continues to fill the gap: creating opportunities for others that he didn’t have during his childhood. He serves on The Village’s Board of Directors and boards of other nonprofits. He also manages the Lastra Coolbrith donor-advised fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the focus of which is helping young people in need.

“My friends and colleagues often ask me why I feel strongly about giving back,” Barry said. “I do it because it’s the right thing to do, and that gives me a great deal of pleasure.” ◼