Newsletter Article - November 2007
Every family has a caretaker, someone who pushes and prods in constructive ways the interests and ambitions of the family's members. Over the years, the term "family" has broadened from its core meaning of blood relatives and extended members related by marriage. Now, the term relates as well to people who share a common interest such as work or a mission. In the nonprofit world, examples abound of "families" that have rallied due to unforeseen and often unfortunate circumstances to turn them into fulfilling and truly beneficial undertakings.
We've focused on some of these start-up efforts in our Spotlight section. This month's focus on the Jordyn Cook Epilepsy Fund shows just how wonderfully people and organizations have rallied around a small girl's plight. It's an organizational initiative that is similar to the one started many years ago and now known far and wide as the Jimmy Fund. And there are other examples as well.
Joe O'Donnell started the Joey Fund in Boston after his son was afflicted by cystic fibrosis. This weekend, over 1200 "family" members will gather in Boston as they have for the past 23 years. In this period, they've raised over $35 million dollars which they've used not only to funded research to find a cure but also to assist parents struggling to pay their child's medical bills.
In 1993, quarterback and now football analyst "Boomer" Esiason started the Boomer Esiason Foundation after his young son, Gunnar, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF). Like the Joey Fund, the BEF raises money to fund research. And like the O'Donnell family, the Esiason family has grown extensively over the years.
The former Miami Dolphin linebacker Nick Buoniconti started the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, a spinal cord injury research organization, after his son Marc suffered a spinal cord injury during a college football game. And who has not followed the remarkable strength and spirit of Christopher Reeves and his wife Donna who established the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center (PRC) to provide information, resources and referral services that enhance the well-being of those affected by spinal cord injury, impaired mobility or paralysis.
The examples go on and on. Each one is a powerful reminder of the constructive results that derive from the commitment and efforts of tightly knit families. And whether they are relatively new initiatives like the Jordon Cook Foundation or large, well-established undertakings like the Jimmy Fund, the consistent thread that links each of these efforts is their personal commitment to their cause. It's this commitment that carries small, striving nonprofits through the lean times and the growing pains. It's very similar to raising a family.
A few days ago, these kinds of efforts were the focus of the yearly event on the Cape Cod known as Philanthropy Day. More than 500 people attended and reflected the cross-section of nonprofit organizations working in the region.
We've been assembling a directory of these organizations and gathering information about them in our Community Directory, which you can explore electronically at the following link: Community Directory. We hope you'll take the time to explore what these organizations do. We hope you'll find one there that relates to your own interests and charitable priorities. They are all looking to add to their extended families individuals who are interested to help them move ahead in their effort to realize positive findings and results.
We hope as well that you'll reach out to these organizations either by e-mail or phone or perhaps a personal visit. The value of what that contact means is not easy to quantify. It's not dollars and cents. The people who are committed to their missions would benefit greatly simply by knowing that others wish them well and respect the effort they are making. They may not be as celebrated as Boomer Esiason, Nick Buoniconti or Christopher Reeves, but they are every bit as heroic.
In the days before Philanthropy Day, Brooks Thayer wrote a wonderful My View column, “Wanted: Local heroes for lean times,” that appeared in the Cape Cod Times and focused on what benefits accrue to individuals who reach out, volunteer, and otherwise involve themselves in nonprofit endeavors. It's worth sending to you a link to the article, which we do here: Wanted: Local heroes for lean times.