The 2017 Invest in Others Awards Finalists
This year’s finalists for the Invest in Others Awards actively work to make a difference across a spectrum of causes including hunger prevention, youth development, financial literacy, medical research and support, and much more.
The advisors spent an average of 37 hours per month volunteering and together they help 1 million people annually. The companies, ranging from small advisory firms to large financial institutions, offer a variety of successful programs that creatively incentivize and encourage employees to give back, including generous matching gift programs and volunteer time off.
In 2013, Jody D’Agostini founded Community in Crisis following the overdose deaths of two young adults in her community. Both were long-time friends of her college-aged daughter, who tearfully asked her mother, “how many more have to die before someone will do something?” This moment served as Jody’s call to arms — she knew she had to take action against the heroin/opiate epidemic that was killing record numbers of 18-30 year olds, both in New Jersey and more broadly across the United States.
Derek Fiorenza has been concerned with food insecurity since his undergraduate days at Villanova University. His earliest efforts at feeding the hungry involved bringing his family together to serve 25 meals at a homeless shelter over the holidays in 2007. This initiative grew each year and, in 2011, Derek founded Fiorenza’s Food For Friends (F4) with the vision “to create a world without hunger.” F4 has flourished, serving more than a million meals across 23 states in the past five years.
Nearly two decades ago, Paul Housey founded Building Bridges, a non-profit dedicated to inspiring underprivileged children in Pontiac, Mich. to believe in themselves by connecting them with adult role models and private high school scholarships. Since 1999, Building Bridges has partnered with Notre Dame Preparatory High School in Pontiac to sponsor dozens of high school students, connecting them with high-quality education and putting them on the path to a college education.
Community Service Award
Jim Geraghty believes that children can truly thrive when they are guided down the right path. A product of public housing, scholarship programs and multiple mentor relationships, Jim has served as a leader and mentor with Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps for the past five years. RFK Children’s Action Corps is a national leader in child welfare and juvenile justice, operating several programs and services for at-risk youth and families.
Over the past eight years, Jonna Keller has worked closely with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County (BGCSC), organizing fundraising events and offering guidance through leadership positions on its Board of Directors. BGCSC strives to enable all young people to realize their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Each year, the organization serves 5,000 underrepresented youths, providing services such as college and career preparation, character and leadership development, and recreational activities.
Tom Reilly has had a transformative influence on Crossroads since he joined the Board of Trustees in 1993. Over Tom’s 24 years of service, he has helped transform Crossroads from an organization offering summer camp experiences into a high-quality, multi-year youth development program that serves at-risk youth. Its outcomes are impressive – 95% of program graduates are accepted to college and 78% of them are first generation college students.
Global Community Impact Award
Michael Altman values the opportunity to make a difference, not only in his own community, but in remote corners of the world as well. As a Flying Doctors of America volunteer for the past 25 years, Michael leads medical missions into third world countries with doctors, dentists and other medical professionals to serve more than 15,000 people in need of medical care annually. Most recently, Michael led multiple medical trips to the Jordan/Syrian border to aid Syrian refugees.
Paul Martel has been improving health outcomes by providing affordable healthcare and humanitarian support to Ecuadorians for nearly twenty years. He founded Fundación Internacional Buen Samaritano Paul Martel, Inc. (FIBUSPAM) to ensure that tens of thousands of Ecuadorians would receive life-saving medical care. The organization’s clinic offers a fully accredited surgical wing with two operating rooms, three patient rooms, a nursery and a fully equipped eye clinic.
Inspired by a mission trip to Niger, Africa in 2001, Michael Thaler founded Effective Ministries Inc. (EMI) to improve the physical and spiritual lives of Nigeriens through five focus areas: health, water, orphans, education and micro-business. Since 2003, the organization has completed nearly 700 projects, including building two orphanages, and conducted 96 mission trips with over 1,000 volunteers to make a significant impact on numerous communities in Niger.
Volunteer of the Year Award
Jon and Pam Baker’s lives were changed forever in 2002 when both of their sons were diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). CF affects a relatively small patient pool and does not attract the research and pharma dollars of other diseases. After learning about the work being done by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to cure the disease, Jon decided to create his own fundraising arm, the Baker Boys Battalion, to benefit the CF Foundation.
In the fall of 2012, Mary Brooks received a call from a friend who wanted to start a program that would pick up food and goods from retailers and individuals that had surplus, and then deliver to those in need within Contra Costa County, Calif. This resonated with Mary, who had once been a young, single mother struggling to provide formula and blankets for her child. She eagerly joined the Board of White Pony Express (WPE) and leads an innovative effort to reach those in need through mobile boutiques.
In 2008, Bill Sparks and his wife, Sarah, began volunteering at their children’s elementary school in Encinitas, Calif. They quickly realized the disparities in access to extracurricular and enrichment activities, especially amongst the Hispanic and low-income populations that attended the school. Bill started Los Angelitos de Encinitas, Inc. to provide access to more opportunities for low-income children in the Encinitas community through youth sports, after school care, and academic assistance programs.
Lifetime Achievement Award
In 2003, Mark Anselmo’s son, Nicholas, was diagnosed with a disorder that wasn’t very prevalent at the time – autism. After searching for support without much success, Mark and his wife decided to create a non-profit, Our Nicholas Foundation, to help other families in need. Our Nicholas Foundation promotes acceptance, builds awareness, and develops understanding and opportunity for the autistic community through resource fairs, support groups, sensory friendly movie nights and afterschool programming.
Over the past 13 years, Jerry Denney has been the driving force behind Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry – growing the pantry from a small operation run out of a church basement to an established non-profit operating in its own building with full-time staff. In 2016, Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry utilized more than 600 volunteers per month to distribute 1.5 million pounds of food to 58,000 people in Charlottesville, Va. and the surrounding communities.
In the mid-1990s, Ben Sax’s hometown of Larchmont, N.Y. experienced acts of anti-Semitic vandalism. This inspired Ben to get involved with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), whose mission involves stopping the defamation of the Jewish people and securing justice and fair treatment to all. Involved with the ADL for nearly three decades, Ben actively participates in community meetings and trainings, serves as National Chair of Development and is a member of the National Advisory Committee.
Corporate Philanthropy – Advisory Firms
Corporate Philanthropy – Financial Institutions