philanthropy – different definitions, same message

At the Aspen Institute dinner in early November, billionaire David Rubenstein pointed out that “Philanthropy means loving other people, not rich people giving away their money.”

In truth, it is a word with a highly personal connotation for many. We decided it would be interesting to see what members of our Valencia community think. What is your definition of philanthropy? Why is it important to support Valencia scholarships?

First, we immediately discovered that people usually don’t fit in just one group: they are faculty and retirees who are donors, donors and partners who are alumni and so on. Second, we found that people welcomed the opportunity to share on this topic and we received so many great responses. Instead of compiling them all into one story, we will feature them in a series of articles and bring you a few perspectives in each newsletter.

The foundation has enjoyed a relationship with the Women’s Executive Council (WEC) for many years. The current president of WEC, Deanna Snyder, an alumna from 1985, felt Valencia’s impact at an early age. She shares how Valencia fit so well into her life-plan and core principles. “To serve others, that has been my guiding beacon for the past several decades.  It started while I was in high school. The field of science and medicine intrigued me. As a young girl, I wanted to be nurse.  Not just any nurse, but a caring nurse that could change the lives of those who crossed my path. As I did my research, I discovered that Valencia had an outstanding nursing program, both clinically and academically. It is one thing to be ‘book smart,’ but it is another thing to have compassion. One of my favorite quotes is from John Maxwell, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ My instructors at Valencia infused both into my training and my soul.  I am grateful and thankful to be a Valencia nursing graduate.  Over the years, my career has led me down different paths, but I always stay true to my mission of serving others.”

Deanna Snyder

Deanna Snyder

Her work with WEC helps to define philanthropy in her life and giving back through their scholarship program greatly enhances the lives of recipients in our local community. “To me, philanthropy comes in many forms, but it all has a common thread of unselfish giving. It is the desire of WEC to empower and embrace and serve women in Central Florida.” And she acknowledges the wonderful circle of giving that result from scholarships. “These scholarships are key turning points in the lives of these remarkable women. Their stories of triumph and success lead them to be philanthropic members of society and thus the giving circle never ends.”

Hannah Wickham

Hannah Wickham

The foundation also shares a wonderful partnership with Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Orlando. In addition to a scholarship endowment, CREW also donates proceeds from their annual golf tournament to support their scholarship, which is targeted for female students who wish to pursue a career in commercial real estate with a degree in accounting, architecture, business administration, construction, engineering, law or real estate.

Hannah Wickham has been involved with the CREW board for the past two years as the director of the annual golf tournament She works at Brasfield and Gorrie and is also involved with NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association; Frederick Leadership Initiative; United Way and Habitat for Humanity.

So what is Hannah’s definition of philanthropy? “Philanthropy is being connected to your community and feeling the need to give back – volunteering time, donating funds and offering knowledge and perspective – and doing what you say you are going to do.”

She believes it is important to support scholarships because it helps bring females into the commercial real estate industry, here in Central Florida and even outside the state. “There is a great opportunity to develop long careers in this industry and the scholarship gives these young ladies a chance to understand the importance of education, as well as their future opportunities within our community. Valencia is an outstanding educational facility that provides so much to their students and so much back to our surrounding communities.”

The foundation relies on our board members a great deal. They are our advocates, donors and advisors. It is an honor for us to work with this league of extraordinary men and women, and while we are privy to enjoy the fruits of their labor, it is interesting to find out the motivation behind the movement.

Lori Sims has been a Valencia Foundation board member for approximately 11 years and the chair of the finance committee for 6 of those years. She attended a community college in her local town and that experience made her understand the value that a community college can provide.

She became involved with Valencia because she has a deep passion for education. She is a steadfast supporter of our college and foundation and a member of our president’s giving circle. Lori and her company, CliftonLarsenAllen LLP, can always be counted on to offer backing when we have our signature A Taste for Learning fundraiser. And Lori recently answered a call for funds for special 2+2 scholarships for Valencia and UCF students through the Johnson Foundation Scholarship, donating a sizeable personal gift.

Lori Sims

Lori Sims

Her definition of philanthropy is “a desire to improve the material, social and spiritual welfare of humanity, especially through charitable activities. For me personally, philanthropy goes far beyond providing monetary contributions to charities. I strive to provide not just financial support, but also my time and talents to those organizations which need my help and for which I have a passion.”

The importance of scholarships really hit home with Lori when she had the “privilege” of reviewing scholarship applications. “Every single applicant has a compelling story and an intense desire to complete their education. For those less fortunate that can use some additional financial support, it is critical that our community do what we can to make it possible for those desiring a higher education to fulfill their dreams.”

Thank you Deanna, Hannah and Lori. We look forward to next month’s discussion!

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One Response

  1. For those women who are looking to pursue careers in the construction industry, please consider joining National Association of Women in Construction for an industry mixer on March 6th at 5:30 p.m. at McCee located at 500 East Princeton Street Orlando, FL 32803. NAWIC has a scholarship available for women in the construction industry, come learn more about NAWIC and how together we can make dreams come true! Membership Mixer
     Networking  Fun  Refreshments  Information  Prizes
    National Association of Women in Construction. A professional organization whose purpose is to enhance the success of women in the construction industry.

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