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Philanthropy group to honor nine recipients

The Genesee Valley Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)
will honor nine people who give back to the community in celebration of National Philanthropy Day.

Since 1986, National Philanthropy Day has honored those who devote their time, money, and energy to a variety of causes and show the true spirit of generosity.

This year’s luncheon is Nov. 1 at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center.  The award recipients and categories include:


Outstanding Philanthropist

Robert W. August

While humble and quiet about his deeds, Robert W. August’s actions send a strong message about fulfilling one’s duty to help others when you can. He always takes the initiative to get things done and knows when to ask for help.

“While it is true that Bob carries out several community commitments,” Tom Hildebrandt of The Davenport-Hatch Foundation explained endorsing August’s nomination, “I have consistently seen that he manages to give high quality ‘time, talent, and treasure’ to each.”

August starts with causes that are near and dear to his heart and his family.

As a trustee of Hillside Children’s Center, August leveraged his connections and advocacy to provide a lead gift towards the $1 million renovation of Camp Possibilities, a summer day camp serving 400.

August’s support of Hillside’s nationally recognized Work-Scholarship Connection also helps at-risk youth graduate from high school and continue their education or enter the workforce.

At Hope Hall, which receives no state or school district funding, August’s efforts help fuel educational opportunities for students who struggle with learning challenges.

In addition to making 101 personal gifts to Hope Hall, August helped to raise $4 million to build the high school and hire the necessary teachers.

Eighty-seven percent of Hope Hall students live in poverty, so August cultivated support from the community to ensure the school can continue to give $400,000 in scholarships each year.

August has been a long-term and fully committed annual donor, board member, and faithful friend of Flower City Habitat for Humanity for over 16 years.

As an on-site volunteer, August worked alongside Habitat homebuyers, adding his sweat equity hours to theirs. The two houses he helped to build are now homes that promote revitalization and growth in their neighborhoods.

August saw the need for a box transport truck at the construction site and personally supported its purchase.

Habitat’s Vacant and Abandoned House Initiative began at the behest of the city of Rochester. August turned to the August Family Foundation for seed money to renovate a house on Parsells Avenue. Soon other private, foundation, and corporate donations followed, allowing for the renovation of six more houses.

August may not realize his influence, but he is a pacesetter that others follow.

“Bob is not bashful about sharing ideas for programs that could benefit from our mutual support,” said Hildebrandt. “A grant from the August Family Foundation is an incredible endorsement that other potential funders invariably take notice of.”


Outstanding Young People in Philanthropy/Individual     

Madeline Berl

 Well versed in what it takes to be a great fundraiser, Madeline Berl is a natural-born leader and philanthropist.

With her own nonprofit—Hearts for Humanity—in place, Berl hopes to promote education through the teachings of song, dance, and all types of artistic expression to the less fortunate around the world.

A member of the Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women Class of 2020, Berl decided her Senior Capstone project would be a fundraiser, “Runway for Hope.”

Over 100 people attended the event, helping Berl donate more than $3,000 to It’s All About Caring for Kids (IAC Kids). The local charity provides financial assistance to families during their child’s long-term hospitalization for aggressive cancer treatment and other severe medical conditions.

IAC Kids Chairman Neil Butera said it was a privilege to watch Madeline put together the professional-caliber event at Roc City Village.

Berl treated families to a pancake breakfast, visits with Santa, free ice-skating, and Christmas presents. The highlight of the day was the fashion show featuring 13 kids walking the runway in new outfits, which they got to keep.

“After listening to Madeline explain the planning process, I quickly realized that she did most of the work on her own, including finding the venue, volunteer cultivation and coordination, marketing, communication with parents, and logistics,” said Kelley Conlon, director of Community Relations at Our Lady of Mercy

In an entry from her journal, Berl wrote, “I faced my fears and gave incredible joy to nine deserving families, and for this, I will be forever grateful.”

Butera is grateful for the smiles on the faces of the kids that day, and for Berl’s passion for raising awareness about the challenges they face. “What she delivered is simply inspiring. I’m convinced we will see Madeline in the national news as she continues her desire for changing lives and helping those less fortunate.”

After high school, Berl plans to continue to raise awareness through Hearts of Humanity and be involved in college community service.


Outstanding Foundation

Camp Smile Foundation

Since 1972, the Webster Lions Club has allowed blind or visually impaired youth to experience the freedom and joy of going to summer camp through the Camp Smile Foundation.

The foundation operates Camp Smile, which gives youth 5–21 years old access to real-life experiences and learning opportunities that support their quest for independence.

Each year, the Webster Lions Club provides $150,000–$200,000 of foundation funding to the run the camp.

As Camp Smile Foundation’s funds grew, so did its philanthropy.

In 2009, the foundation began donating to the Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired (ABVI), contributing an average of $20,000 a year to support a variety of residential, technology, and career programs that promote independence through learning and social connection.

The Camp Smile Foundation also helped ABVI purchase furniture and equipment for a room dedicated to children’s programming.

Challenger Miracle Field, a baseball field specifically designed for individuals with physical or cognitive challenges, as well as Gliding Stars, an ice-skating program for kids with disabilities, have also benefitted from the generous support of the Camp Smile Foundation.

In 2011, lack of state funding resulted in the cancellation of the Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged. Camp Smile Foundation stepped in to provide the necessary funding to support the staff person.

The foundation also provides monetary and volunteer support for the Empire State Games at SUNY Brockport each year.


Burton S. August Sr. Award for Community Leadership

Lauren Dixon

Since her start as a TV newsperson, Lauren Dixon has become a powerhouse in business and a champion in the philanthropic arena. Her stellar leadership in the community helps make the Greater Rochester Area a wonderful place to live and work.

Encouraging tomorrow’s leaders to learn and grow their careers in Rochester is a priority for Dixon. More than 2,000 Rochester area students have participated in the mentoring and hands-on internship opportunities offered by Dixon Schwabl.

The continued recognition of Dixon Schwabl as one of the “Best Small Companies to Work for in America” for more than 10 consecutive years—two of those years at #1—speaks to her leadership and dedication to her staff, her clients, and her business.

Since 1998, Dixon’s volunteer and board-related service has had a positive impact on more than 31 nonprofit organizations.

“Lauren’s a determined advocate for our cause and our community,” United Way President and CEO Jaime Saunders said. “She commits countless hours of service to strengthen our organization and engage others to make philanthropic contributions.”

From the $24 million success that was the 2015 United Way campaign, to a 100th Anniversary fundraising event producing $100,000 in one night, Dixon gets results.

Dixon Schwabl also joined the United Way Eastman Century Circle in 2018 to commemorate United Way’s 100th Anniversary, contributing more than $100,000 in corporate and employee giving under Dixon’s leadership.

Using her connections, Dixon also significantly increased the membership of United Way Women’s Leadership Council and, in turn, United Way leadership donations.

Anne Kress, president and CEO of Monroe Community College, supports Dixon as the nominee because of her ongoing involvement with the MCC Foundation since 2006.

During her tenure, she worked on the successful capital campaign for the PAC Center on the Brighton Campus, which surpassed its goal by $1 million.

As a founding donor of the STAR Power program, Dixon helps provide scholarships to head-of-household single parents—mostly women—working on completing their degree at MCC. Her example and encouragement motivated nearly 100 Rochester women and families to invest $500,000 in the fund.

Dixon also launched the public phase of the $50 million Every Bright Future Needs a Strong Foundation campaign, which has inspired several of the most significant gifts in the MCC Foundation’s history.

“Lauren has inspired her peers to use this campaign as a platform for engaging new supporters and celebrating current supporters,” Kress added. “Her efforts to create lasting connections for the organization that are sure to provide benefits for decades to come.”


Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser

Gerald “Jerry” Archibald

A dynamic force in the nonprofit world, Gerald “Jerry” Archibald made his career consulting with health and human service clients. When their good works touch his heart, he makes it his mission to connect them to other organizations and community philanthropists.

A partner with the Bonadio Group, Archibald authors monthly columns on nonprofit management strategies for the Rochester Business Journal and the Central New York Business Journal.

His past and present involvement with School of Holy Childhood, Mary Cariola Children’s Center, Ability Partners Foundation, and Bishop Kearney High School make him a familiar face around town.

Archibald learned about service as a student at Bishop Kearney High School (BK), where he managed the basketball and baseball teams. Long-time BK coach and teacher Carm Urzetta remembers this 2012 BK Hall of Fame Inductee as “his right arm.”

“For the last 50 years, you could count on Jerry to do anything you asked of him,” Urzetta said. “He has always been a supporter of the school, through thick and thin.”

The Partnership Campaign at Bishop Kearney is Archibald’s latest undertaking for his alma mater. While many warned that a major campaign would be challenging, Melanie Barnas-Simmons, vice president of advancement for the Catholic school, said he charged ahead with “tenacity and steadfastness.”

His influence on classmates has been invaluable. “Jerry’s not afraid to look a prospective donor in the eye and say, ‘I just made a $250,000 gift. I want you to join me by making a major commitment to help the great students at your alma mater,'” Barnas-Simmons explained.

Helping agencies build a better, brighter, more secure future for individuals with disabilities also holds a special place in Archibald’s heart.

To address the unmet funding needs for long-term critically needed services for people with disabilities and disadvantages, Archibald helped establish the Ability Partners Foundation, the flourishing parent organization for CP Rochester, Happiness House, and Rochester Rehabilitation.

“Under Jerry’s guidance,” explained Ability Partners President and CEO Mary Walsh Boatfield, “challenges become opportunities, and risks become rewards.”

The Mary Cariola Center, Ontario ARC, and School of the Holy Childhood also benefit from Archibald’s expertise, time, and philanthropy.

“Archibald uses all his attributes for the betterment of others,” Holy Childhood President & CEO Donna Dedee said, “especially those who are vulnerable.

“He provides a moral compass to government bureaucrats who often claim to put people first, but in practice, it’s about dollars—not sense.”


Outstanding Small Business

M/Body Rochester

Come as you are is the mantra at M/Body, one of Rochester’s most unique fitness and wellness studios. Owner Molly Flaherty and over 30 trainers contribute their boundless energy and expertise to combine fitness with fundraising to empower donors.

M/Body’s “SWAT Style Boot Camps” are a favorite and raise over $10,000 for the Rochester Police Foundation. The funds support police efforts in the community and pay for extra items such as training equipment and care for police dogs and horses.

When unforeseen factors try to derail a student’s education, MCC Dreamkeepers provide monetary help. The awards help students stay in school, meet their educational goals, and secure a better financial future.

As co-chair of Cabin Fever, Flaherty and her committee have increased event revenue by 30 percent over three years.

Emily Marullo, Associate Director of Donor Engagement at Monroe Community College Foundation, values Flaherty’s ability to bring young philanthropists together. “Year after year, the MCC Foundation meets guests who go on to establish endowed scholarships and fund program support at MCC,” she said.

Dozens of other local nonprofits benefit from the inspiring events hosted by M/Body, including the Out Alliance, Camp Good Days and Special Times, and Sons and Daughters of St. Patrick.

Recognizing that giving knows no bounds, M/Body has also raised funds for organizations outside of Rochester, including the Flint Child Health & Development Fund in Michigan.

In addition to philanthropy, M/Body gives of her time to be a role model for young entrepreneurs and creates innovative and empowering internships, jobs, and programming opportunities for people across abilities.

A truly remarkable woman, Flaherty “embodies selfless compassion for bettering the community around her. She’s passionate about igniting the passion in others both at M/Body and out in the community.”


Outstanding Young People in Philanthropy/Group    

Our Lady of Mercy Class of 2019 Motto Project

Each year, seniors at Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women (OLM) step into the role of change agent through their Motto Project. As the Class of 2019, these young women rose to the challenge, researching critical issues in the community and working together to promote awareness and action.

As a congregation, the Sisters of Mercy discern the critical concerns that will be the focus of their ministries. These include the fullness of life for women, nonviolence, anti-racism, immigration, and care for the Earth.

Not only did the Class of 2019 donate items, money, and volunteer hours to address these critical issues, some students even create new programs.

A member of the OLM Golf Team chose to research sex trafficking, an international issue that impacts vulnerable women, men, and children in the Rochester community.

The student’s eye-opening presentation raised awareness within the Mercy community and encouraged participation in the action portion of her project: a golf tournament.

With the volunteer help from The Angels of Mercy and the golf team, this young woman planned and hosted Golfing Against Trafficking. Despite a thunder and lightning storm that day, the event to raise more than $18,000.

With thoroughly documented planning and execution notes, this senior has been able to pass the torch for her golf tournament to the capable hands of a junior from the Class of 2020.

The golf tournament is just one of many examples of how young women at Our Lady of Mercy unite to become a difference in the community, and the world.

In all, the Class of 2019 supported 85 organizations outside of the school community, 11 schools in our area, four countries, including Haiti, China, Guyana, and Nepal. The $37,064.72 raised went to various organizations, along with 2,400 new books, 1,220 bagels, 350 solar lights for Haiti, and 100 handmade ceramic bowls donated for sale.


Robert A. Clinger Outstanding Fundraising Professional

Cathie Wright

When Cathie Wright joined Lollypop Farm in 2006, her two passions—fundraising and animals—came together to create her dream job.

As vice president for development and donor relations, Wright leads a growing team of specialists responsible for raising 80 percent of the organization’s $8.2 million annual budget.

Wright’s expertise with various fundraising tools and impeccable timing over the past 13 years has increased Lollypop’s fundraising 204 percent—from approximately $2.1 million to $6.4 million annually.

In addition to annual giving, Wright led a $5.2 million campaign to build a new veterinary clinic, training wing, and cat adoptions center, making Lollypop Farm what it is today.

A few years later, Wright led a $1 million campaign to build the Equine Training and Rehabilitation Center that is the cornerstone of the agency’s equine program.

Wright also pioneered Lollypop’s significant gifts and planned giving programs and established best practices for fundraising initiatives based on the AFP Code of Ethical Standards and Donor Bill of Rights.

Lollypop Farm President and CEO Alice Calabrese values Wright’s contributions, describing her “a person who strives to be the best, has high standards, and expects the same of the rest of us.”

Wright is always ready to help others rise to the occasion.

During new employees’ onboarding experiences, Wright or a member of her team explain how their daily interactions with the public are opportunities to cultivate charitable giving.

To take her skills—and that of the organization—to the next level, Wright also engaged fundraising expert Simone Joyaux to improve donor relations and overall knowledge of fundraising best practices.

Calabrese also credits Wright with helping the organization embrace and recognize that donors are the heroes of the organization’s work.

“Cathie’s keenly interested in fulfilling donor’s wishes,” Calabrese explained, adding that transparency and communications are hallmarks of her interactions, so donors know the impact of their gift.

A Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) since 2002, Wright has served on the AFP board and participates in several committees, networking efforts, and affinity groups.

Thanks to her years in Toastmasters International, Wright is also a sought-after speaker and educator by animal welfare organizations nationwide.

In addition to her professional responsibilities at Lollypop Farm, Wright supports the organization’s mission as a donor and foster mom to sick cats, caring for them until they are ready for adoption.

Wright also supports the American Heart Association Heart Walk, donates to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and advocates for organ donation through her support of Donate Life America.


Outstanding Corporation

First American Equipment Finance

First American Equipment Finance (FAEF) nurtures productive, beneficial, and lasting relationships by weaving community service into its company culture.

“We feel very strongly that no other corporation in the Rochester community lives, breathes, and emulates the true meaning of a corporate giving as First American,” said Dorothy Kelley, development officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Greater Rochester. “From the start of our relationship, they were not looking just to make a financial commitment to a charity. Every FAEF employee we interact with is excited, invested, and passionate about supporting their community.”

Keeping up with technology is often challenging for many nonprofits. First American provided BBBS with 25 computers, along with handling the installation and software, server support, networking, and connectivity updates.

First American has been the naming sponsor for the BBBS annual golf tournament since 2003. The funds raised to support programming brings youth together with caring role models who help them navigate challenges and realize their potential.

Kelley added that since 2002, First American has maintained a seat on the BBBS board of directors, provided countless hours of leadership development opportunities for agency executives.

First American’s philanthropy ripples throughout the community, with more 37 nonprofits benefiting from the company’s generosity.

As Flower City Habitat for Humanity strives to build strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter in the community, the agency’s President and CEO, Matthew J. Flanigan, is grateful for the partnership and passion of First American.

In the past eight years, over 150 First American volunteers have contributed more than 2,350 construction hours and have donated upwards of $15,900 to Habitat’s Women Build. The program supports homeownership, builds communities, and fosters hope.

First American also sows seeds of hope through its visionary support of The Nature Conservancy. To promote a paperless world, the company donates a tree every time a client agrees to e-sign a document. So far, approximately 3,500 seedlings have taken root in communities around the world.


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