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By Gina Sandoval
Three, maybe four times a day while I’m at work, my eyes catch the photo of Adam Broock, an Oakwood High School student whose untimely passing in 1990 inspired his parents to establish a scholarship fund in his name. His photo hangs in one of the many donor photo collages displayed throughout The Dayton Foundation’s office. The sleek silver mounting brackets and brightly colored name blocks give the two-dimensional frames a modern feel, but the sentiments behind these photos goes much deeper. The smiling faces that line our hallways and offices remind us of why we are here.
Adam’s photo is reminiscent of one I would have seen in my high school yearbook. With his thick, sandy-colored hair, blue eyes and open-mouth smile, one can see why he was described as a popular, well-rounded student. His photo, like so many that grace the walls of the Foundation, represents a life gone too soon. But family and schoolmates – or in guitar-playing Adam’s case, his parents and bandmates – wanted to honor their loved one’s life by doing good for others in his or her name.
“The hardest and the easiest part of what I do every day is meeting the families behind the funds. It can be very emotional at times, but I feel good being able to comfort them in some small way and help to keep their loved one’s memory and what they meant to this world alive through their fund,” said Michelle Lovely, CFRE, vice president of Development and Donor Services. “Our donors’ spirit of generosity is so heartwarming, and the individuals behind those funds are ensuring that future generations are involved in giving back.”
The donor collage down the hall from Adam’s includes a photo of Robert and Helen Harmony. These longtime factory workers decided to establish the Robert and Helen Harmony Fund for Needy Children so kids could experience camp, an opportunity that they didn’t get to experience as children. In their photo (right), the Harmonys are standing side by side in front of a rustic log cabin, dressed in near-matching plaid shirts. Robert appears to be in mid-speech, and judging by the look on Helen’s face, he said something to make her laugh.
“When I look at the Harmonys’ photo, I think of how excited they would be to know that they have helped more than 10,000 children through their fund,” said Barbra Stonerock, vice president of Community Engagement. “I think of the Harmonys as the Foundation’s family, like special grandparents who look after our community’s children by helping to send them to camp.”
Around the corner from the conference room hangs one of my favorite donor collages. Ellen Jane Lorenz Porter, a composer and an expert in the fields of handbells and hymnology, sits at a baby grand piano, making notes on the sheet music in front of her. Nancy Williams, a retired educator, and her late husband, Herman Williams, a retired chief master sergeant for the United States Air Force, pose together holding hands. Their vacation-brightened smiles match the Hawaiian leis around their necks and violet sunset behind them. The headshot photos of Pearl Dale, a Dayton Public Schools educator who overcame odds to receive a master’s degree in the 1950s, and Paula MacIlwaine, the first woman elected to the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, are fitting neighbors, as both are trailblazing women whose Dayton Foundation funds are empowering others. These are just a sampling of the faces and stories that make up the more than 4,000 donors whose funds have awarded over $1 billion since the Foundation’s establishment 100 years ago.
One of the greatest joys of my job as Marketing and Communications Officer for The Dayton Foundation is archiving the photos and biographical information of our fund holders. I love learning what motivated you to create your fund and putting your story into words. Although your stories are as diverse as the photos that are displayed on our walls, you all share one important and unifying characteristic. Whether moved by personal tragedy, triumph or empathy, you created a charitable fund because you wanted to do something to help others. This higher calling is what led you to become a part of The Dayton Foundation family.
The staff here at the Foundation feel privileged to be connected, even in a small way, to the good work you are doing. You are the stories we tell at our dinner tables. You are the examples we point out to prospective fund holders who are looking for inspiration. You are the lessons we share with our children on how to make a difference in the world. More importantly, helping to fulfill your charitable legacies is why we take pride in our work and feel like we’re a part of something greater than ourselves.
“I have the greatest job because all day long, I get to meet good people who want to do good things for the community and the world,” said Joe Baldasare, chief Development officer for The Dayton Foundation. “What could be better than that?”