Philanthropists Honored at Fundraising Professionals’ Annual Luncheon

NILES, Ohio — Rosetta Carter ended her acceptance speech with a Helen Keller quote that encompasses the meaning behind National Philanthropy Day: “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

Carter, the executive director for the Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods, accepted the Special Recognition for Valley Impact award during the 32nd annual National Philanthropy Day luncheon Friday afternoon.

Action was one of six organizations and individuals honored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Mahoning-Shenango Chapter.

All six honorees wove a thread of gratitude through their acceptance speeches and emphasized a central point: Philanthropy is a group effort.

Action is a faith-based organization and supports efforts to create an equitable community through social justice initiatives. Guided by their faith traditions, shared values, and multicultural collaboration, Action strives to develop a community of diverse leaders committed to raising awareness and seeking solutions to overcome poverty, racism, and social injustice.

Since its founding in 1999, Action has hosted public meetings to hold elected officials accountable, collected 5,000 signatures to establish the Eastern Gateway Community College, hosted Holy Ground Marches to call attention to blight, and worked to have abandoned houses demolished.

Most recently, Action launched a Mobile Market Initiative to address food insecurity in the Mahoning Valley.

Carter thanked Action’s members and the community for their work and contributions.

“The keys to successful fundraising is our gratitude and stewardship, and to always say thank you,” Carter said. “We could not have made such an impact without the community without you.”

Leonard “Lenny” J. Fisher, president and chairman of Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream, received the Outstanding Philanthropist award. Fisher was recognized for his innate generosity and the varying gifts and support he has distributed throughout the community.

Fisher said he views philanthropy as simply the right thing to do.

“I just give from my heart. I never know what I’m going to do or why I’m going to do it. I just see a need, and if I can fill it, then I will,” Fisher said. “My parents always told me sharing is caring. So I guess that’s why I continue to do it.”

In 2021 and 2022, Fisher participated as both a Shark and sponsor of the Youngstown Business Incubator’s annual Shark Tank. Partnering with YBI client company Fitz Frames, Fisher has contributed to Sight for All United providing eyeglasses for local students.

Fisher donated to support the expansion of Akron Children’s Hospital’s Mahoning Valley Emergency Department. Fisher’s support includes the Vision for our Valley’s Children Campaign Fund, the Pediatric Cardiology Fund, the Mahoning Valley Fund, and the Koins 4 Kids Campaign.

Fisher, a Vietnam War veteran, also honors fellow veterans with the Let Us Serve You! event, providing free ice cream to military personnel. Fisher has also made major gifts to the Freedom Warriors Charitable Fund providing resources for veterans from the Mahoning and Shenango Valleys.

Crowe’s Cabinets was named as the Outstanding Small Business Philanthropist. President Tim Crowe, and wife Diane, accepted the award on behalf of the company.

Crowe emphasized that no form of philanthropy or volunteerism is too small. Simply being a good person is enough to make a difference.

“It can be volunteering one’s time, talent and resources. Being a good person, a good spouse, a good parent, son or daughter, a friend, a neighbor. Being a good employee, employer or being a good citizen and Good Samaritan,” Crowe said. “Sometimes encouragement and belief in a person changes their day. But sometimes it changes their life.”

Crowe, past president and an active member of the Poland Rotary Club, regularly gives time, talent and resources to support the club’s many projects and fundraising efforts – often with Diane, son, Liam, and daughter, Lucy.

Some of the organizations that have benefitted from the support of Crowe’s Cabinets are Mercy Health Foundation, Hospice of the Valley, Northeast Ohio Adoption Services, Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley Radiothon, Oh Wow!, DSAV Buddy Walk Golf Outing, Mahoning Valley Irish Festival, Local Greater Trail Council –Scouts, Poland Polar Express, Bella Women’s Center and more.

The posthumous Legacy Award was given to Jeanne Deibel Tyler and accepted by William Conti.

Conti worked closely with Tyler at Stambaugh Auditorium when Tyler served as honorary chair of the Stambaugh Auditorium Capital Campaign, formed in 2013, to raise funds for the restoration of the deteriorating building.

Tyler was passionate about preserving local history and was a long time board member of Mahoning Valley Historical Society, serving 12 years as board president. Her commitment to local history resulted in her making the lead gift to name Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center in downtown Youngstown. Over the years, she continued to contribute to MVHS.

Upon Tyler’s death in 2019, $1 million went to MVHS. This past August, MVHS received the balance of the estate in the amount of $1,045,000, bringing her total giving to almost $3 million.

Conti said Tyler’s efforts turned Stambaugh into a “beacon on the hill,” and the Tyler History Center is another mainstay in Youngstown that she made possible.

The Third Source Committee of Holy Family Parish was presented with the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraising Group award. Frank Mazzarino, one of the leaders of the Third Source Committee, accepted the award.

Mazzarino credited the work of the parish and the committee. “They’re a bunch of very, very dedicated individuals. And I couldn’t be prouder of all the time that I’ve been here and the work that they do.”

Third Source Committee was founded in 1992 to be a third source of income for the parish. The group’s mission is to raise funds for various Holy Family Parish events and projects and to financially contribute to parish requests/petitions for assistance.

Third Source has supported the Mahoning Valley and beyond through volunteering and fundraising for Habitat for Humanity, Poland Rotary Club, Dorothy Day House of Hospitality, St. Vincent de Paul soup kitchen and food pantry, Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and most recently sent funds to aid Ukrainian refugees in Slovakia.

Barbara Brothers received the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser award. Brothers is a longtime educator and began teaching at Youngstown University in 1960 and joined the full-service faculty in 1967.

As dean of Arts and Sciences she secured numerous grants, including a $2.5 million Teacher Enhancement Preparation Grant. She was a member of the College English Association of Ohio, the Ohio Humanities Council, the National College English Association, the Association of Departments of English, the Modern Language Association, the State Library Board, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Brothers serves on the boards of the YWCA of Mahoning Valley, League of Women Voters of Greater Youngstown, AAUW Youngstown, WYSU-FM, Youngstown Rotary, and Stambaugh Auditorium Development Committee. She also volunteers with the Senior Support Action Group and Retired and Senior Volunteer Program

In her acceptance speech, Brothers thanked multiple contributors to the community that have helped to turn Youngstown into a “a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

Colleen Kelly, president of the AFP Mahoning-Shenango Chapter, said she is always impressed by the philanthropy of the community, especially despite the hardships the last three years have presented to local organizations.

“We look back on the past three years and the difficulties that many of our organizations have faced. We appreciate the giving ways in our community and look forward to continued philanthropic endeavors in our Valley,” Kelly said.

National Philanthropy Day is Nov. 15. The commemoration was created by Douglas Freeman in the 1980s, and the first official events were held in 1986 after President Reagan signed an official proclamation.

Pictured at top are the honorees, from left: Frank Mazzarino, Barbara Brothers; William Conti (accepting for the late Jeanne Diebel Tyler, Tim and Diane Crowe, Leonard J. Fisher; Rose Carter and Vicki Vicars from Action.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.