WIN Event: Philanthropy Panel 2019

WIN members heard personal perspectives on philanthropy from four women at our  Sept. 25 Philanthropy Panel event.

Some 25 members convened in the St. Andrews on-the-Sound parish hall to hear panelists describe their charitable giving journeys.

In addition to eliciting narratives and comments from each panelist, moderator Laurie Taylor added her own insights. "Philanthropy is taught," she said, explaining her belief that children learn to give by observing the actions of those around them and participating in giving experiences themselves. Taylor, currently development director at The Carousel Center and formerly development director at Lower Cape Fear Hospice, has witnessed the power of giving to change both the giver and the recipient.

“It doesn’t have to be monumental”

Eliza Blackwell, a founder of The Pink Ladies, said her philanthropic organization organized less than 10 years ago to motivate members to participate in both physical activity and support of local nonprofits through fundraising and volunteering. Most members are involved in competitive athletic endeavors.

In less than 10 years, The Pink Ladies has seen its collaborative efforts – some of them small – reap big benefits for its grant recipients.

“We focus on one organization annually, giving money and volunteering,” Blackwell explained. “Our first grant recipient was Nourish NC. We pick small grassroots organizations that are specific to Wilmington.”

To date, the 500-member group has provided about $73,000 in grants – and many hours of volunteer help - to eight organizations.

The Pink Ladies has a further goal, Blackwell said. That’s to show members’ children the value and joy of giving back.

“It doesn’t have to be monumental,” she said of the group’s effort, adding that small actions can have a big impact.

“What can my shop do?”

Kendall Hurt, owner of women’s fashion boutique Meadowlark, grew up with the concept of tithing, thanks to her mother. She was also impressed by the advice of radio financial adviser Dave Ramsey, who encourages people to plan for their financial goals and invest wisely for long-term rewards.

As a young businesswoman starting out, Hurt had limited personal resources but decided she could pursue philanthropy through her shop. She has more recently given from her own pocket as well. As a member of WIN’s grants committees, she brings her business experience as well as her personal perspectives to evaluating applications.

Outside of WIN, Hurt has well-defined giving priorities.

“My main causes are civil rights, women’s equality, Planned Parenthood and domestic violence,” she said.

"Go forward in faith, with the best of intentions"

For Melodie Homer, personal tragedy opened the door to what is now a nationwide philanthropic endeavor. Her husband, LeRoy Homer Jr., was the co-pilot of United Airlines’ Flight 93 on September 11, 2001 – the hijacked flight that crashed into a Pennsylvania field, killing everyone on board. She has honored his bravery by establishing The LeRoy W. Homer Jr. Foundation to provide financial support and encouragement to young people who wish to pursue professional flight instruction leading to certification as a private pilot.

Homer’s decision to launch the foundation was a natural outgrowth of her own faith, philanthropic background and desire to help others. Like Hurt, she grew up in a tithing household and volunteered as a Candy Striper before training as a nurse and embarking on a health care career.

She believes that “To whom much is given, much will be required,” and has practiced charitable giving for years, contributing to natural disaster responders as well as to small local organizations. The foundation, however, has become a major focus of her efforts, along with her collective philanthropy through WIN.

“Volunteering will make you a better person”

Louise Coggins, a founding member of WIN, has made charitable giving a major part of her life. In 2002, she and her husband Steve decided they did not need a town home and a beach home, so they downsized, sold their home in Raleigh and gave the proceeds to nonprofit organizations whose missions they supported.

They continue to earmark a percentage of their incomes – she is a psychotherapist, he is an attorney – for philanthropy. The couple host fundraisers at their home, and Coggins is also an enthusiastic volunteer.

“Steve and I have the same value system,” she said, adding that giving time, talent and treasure to help others gives them “a great feeling.”

Coggins described her early approach to charitable giving as “shotgun,” but over the years she said she has focused more on human services, supporting “nonprofits that are saving lives and organizations that do not have advocates.”


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