Individuals, Firms to Be Honored on Philanthropy Day

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — More nominees and more representation throughout the five-county region are evidence of the strong philanthropic community to be honored Nov. 18, National Philanthropy Day.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Mahoning-Shenango Chapter, which serves the five-county region, received 26 applications for its annual awards, “a record number,” reports Catherine Cala, director of alumni engagement at Youngstown State University and co-chairwoman of the recognition luncheon.

The awards will be presented to eight individuals and companies in seven categories Nov. 18 during a luncheon at Mr. Anthony’s in Boardman.

This year’s honorees represent Mahoning County in Ohio, Mercer and Lawrence counties in Pennsylvania and Walmart with a presence in all five counties.

“A lot of these people who are doing this work don’t want to be recognized. But looking at all the projects they work on throughout the year, they certainly deserve it,” says Julia Pisansky, development associate at Beatitude House, the other co-chairwoman.

The National Philanthropy Day honorees are:

  • Civic Organization – Youngstown CityScape.
  • Philanthropist – Herb and Gisele Washington.
  • Corporate Philanthropist – Walmart of Mahoning and Shenango Valleys.
  • Small-Business Philanthropist – Komara Jewelers.
  • Volunteer Fundraiser – Dorothy J. Pollock.
  • Young Philanthropist – Kate Jenkins and “Kindness Kampaign.”
  • Legacy Award – Irwin Thomases.

Typically someone from the community at large or the representative of a nonprofit organization familiar with philanthropists nominates an individual or organization, Cala says. Candidates are sought who not only demonstrate personal philanthropy but encourage philanthropy among others as well, she adds.

Once the nominations are submitted, the chapter’s National Philanthropy Day Committee reviews them before selecting those to be honored, Pisansky says.

For example, the Washingtons, who own McDonald’s restaurant franchisee H.L.W. Fast Track Inc., were chosen because they not only give from their personal wealth but also support many nonprofit organizations through Ronald McDonald House Charities, Cala says.

“They stood out because they demonstrated both a personal and a business commitment to serving nonprofit organizations. In their case especially, education was high on their list,” she continues.

The Mahoning/Shenango Walmart group was named corporate philanthropist because it has at least three committed philanthropic groups in place as part of the retail giant’s corporate philosophy, including direct community grant support and volunteerism. “They’ve made philanthropy a priority of their corporate culture,” Cala says. Each store can make smaller community grants, determined by employees at the individual stores.

Komara Jewelers is “another example” of a company that incorporates philanthropy into its business model, Cala says. Beyond financial contributions, the jeweler often donates jewelry for nonprofit organizations’ fundraisers.

The award to Irwin Thomases, who died in 2011, is this year’s legacy honoree. The chapter worked closely with the Partnership for Planned Giving to recognize him. Thomases established an anonymous donor-advised fund at the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation that upon his death became the Thomases Family Endowment of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation.

Thomases was “very generous” when he was alive, and in death “wanted his legacy to live on, to continue to give back to different programs,” Pisansky says.

This year the committee made two awards in the Young Philanthropist category, which “speaks volumes” to philanthropy among youth, Pisansky says. One honoree is a Canfield High School student who launched a “huge art campaign” at her school; the other is a group that came together to address mental health issues.

Pollock, this year’s honoree for volunteerism, is a retired chemist and Westminster College graduate whose career included research and development at Koppers Inc. and Atlantic Richfield Co. She endowed a scholarship fund at her alma mater and worked with its development office to secure fundraising campaign gifts.

Outstanding Civic Organization was “a very competitive category” this year, with five nominations, Cala says. Youngstown CityScape stood out because of its “highly visible work” in improving the aesthetics of downtown Youngtown.

That the category was so competitive this year says two things, she says: more nonprofits are getting involved in more public projects that benefit their communities, and more people are aware of the fundraising professionals’ efforts.

Pictured: From left, are Deborah Grinstein, representing the Irwin Thomases Family Endowment of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, Legacy Award; Dorothy J. Pollock, Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser; Sharon Letson, Youngstown CityScape, Outstanding Civic Organization. Standing are Angela Fleeger, Walmart of Mahoning and Shenango Valleys, Outstanding Corporate Philanthropist; Sarah O’Malley, representing Kindness Kampaign, Outstanding Young Philanthropist; Robert and Bob Komara, Komara Jewelers, Outstanding Small Business Philanthropist; Kate Jenkins, Outstanding Young Philanthropist. Not pictured are Herb and Gisele Washington, Outstanding Philanthropist.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.