Generous hearts recognized at annual philanthropy banquet

National Philanthropy Day Award Winners: Kit Thomas, Grace Friedman, Peter Ghiloni, Jay Demetree, Jr., Meredith Chartrand Frisch, Pam Cown, Christine and Steve Chapman, Gilchrist Berg and Tim Volpe
National Philanthropy Day Award Winners: Kit Thomas, Grace Friedman, Peter Ghiloni, Jay Demetree, Jr., Meredith Chartrand Frisch, Pam Cown, Christine and Steve Chapman, Gilchrist Berg and Tim Volpe

“Make Your Mark” was the theme for the 2018 National Philanthropy Day luncheon and awards program held Nov. 6 at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel and it was an appropriate theme for the six organizations and three individuals who were honored for making their mark.

After opening remarks by Annie Tutt, president for the Florida First Coast Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the awards were presented by Christy Smith, event chair, and Jessica Waugaman, event co-chair, with WJXT reporter/anchor Kent Justice serving as emcee.

Meredith Chartrand Frisch was named Outstanding Philanthropist, nominated by The Discovery School, where she serves a chair of its Board of Trustees. Frisch took on initiatives in early childhood development to create a recipe for academic success, a community of care and solid footing for tomorrow’s children, raising more than $1.5 million for the Jacksonville Beach-based school which serves children ages 3 to 12. “I feel incredibly humbled but am also mindful that I’m fortunate to have this base and the resources to dedicate my time and to doing what I love,” said Frisch. “What I want to share is how meaningful philanthropy is when you practice it together.”

Kit Thomas rightly comes by the award for Outstanding Fundraising/Development Professional. Over the course of 16 years, Thomas has raised millions of dollars for United Way of Northeast Florida, to The Arc Jacksonville and The North Florida School of Special Education and is committed to ensuring that “differently-abled” persons have the same advantages as anyone else. “We cannot and do not do this work alone,” said Thomas, who was nominated by The Arc Jacksonville and NFSSE. “It’s because of many of you in this room that opened doors for us and you share our mission and our vision for the future with your colleagues and friends.”

J.C. “Jay” Demetree, Jr., was nominated as Outstanding Volunteer by St. Vincent’s HealthCare Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville and Sulzbacher. Demetree has a long history of leading fundraising campaigns and serving on the boards of these nonprofits. “I’ve been very blessed,” said Demetree. “As far back as I can remember giving back and making your mark is so very important. I’ve been surrounded by people who were great examples of giving back.”

The Riverside Rotary Club of Jacksonville was named Outstanding Civic Organization, nominated by Community Hospice & Palliative Care, the recipient of funds raised by the annual Riverside Craft Beer Fest. In his remarks, Immediate Past President Tim Volpe said, “The Riverside Craft Beer Fest was a stroke of genius, and I credit the original visionary and founder of the event, Chris Croft, and it has been an extraordinary success, emulated by Rotary Clubs all over the country. We’ve raised over a quarter of a million dollars in the past six years.”

Nominated for the Community Award by the PACE Center for Girls, the AT&T Pioneers Jacksonville Life Members Club was established in 1918 with the vision to be recognized as a world-class leader in volunteerism. Last year the Pioneers logged over 7,500 project hours in Northeast Florida. “When we do this, we don’t expect anything because we do this from the heart,” said Pam Cown, who accepted the award for the group.

All American Air, an HVAC company founded in 1980 by Steve Chapman in St Augustine, was nominated as the Outstanding Small Business by Community Hospice & Palliative Care. Chapman and his wife, Christine, created the All American Air Table Tennis Classic in 2009, which has raised more than $500,000 and supported more than 80 nonprofits in Northeast Florida.

The Berg Family Foundation was named Outstanding Foundation, nominated by the University of North Florida, St. Vincent’s HealthCare Foundation and the Jacksonville Symphony. Accepting the award was foundation founder Gilchrist Berg, who is an alumnus of Ortega Elementary School and also established the Gladys Prior Excellence in Career Teaching award after his fourth-grade teacher at the school.

The Outstanding Corporation award went to Swisher International, nominated by Jacksonville University, which has been heavily funded by the Jacksonville-based cigar company. Company founder Carl S. Swisher was the university’s first major donor and benefactor and the foundation in his name continues to invest in JU to this day. Swisher CEO and President Peter Ghiloni, who will retire at the end of the year, said, “We’ve had a long history with JU since 1934 and that partnership will continue in the future.”

The Betty Griffin Center and Hubbard House nominated Harrison Snowden and Teens Take a Stand Club of Ponte Vedra High School for the Next Generation award for their efforts in spreading awareness about domestic violence and raising funds for both nonprofits. Snowden, who formed the club in 2016, is attending Princeton University, so the award was accepted by Grace Friedman, a current member of the club.

By Kate A. Hallock

Resident Community News