Tag Archives: philanthropy

A Matter Of Heart

The word “philanthropy” typically conjures up notions of wealthy donors who give large sums of money to worthy causes.

But several Legates through their charitable and professional involvement are giving greater depth to the word’s meaning. Through their work and generosity, all are showing that philanthropy starts with a desire to advocate for the good of others and goes well beyond financial giving.

Choosing between doing well and doing good 

As a graduate student, Legate Terrence Blackwell felt torn between doing well and doing good. After a summer life guard job led him to teach people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to swim, he landed in graduate school in education at the University of Pennsylvania, but also took elective classes at the university’s prestigious Wharton School.

About that time someone told him, “Until you make a definitive decision as to which hat you want to wear, you’ll be tormented. You can go after the dollars with the other Wharton guys or keep working with disabled people.”

Blackwell wrestled with the question, asking himself whether he could work with disabled people and make the most of the available resources in a way that had measurable impact. He concluded that if he could do that, he could really change the world.

Today, Blackwell, a member of the Legatus Baltimore Chapter, is president and CEO of Chimes, a nonprofit human service agency providing employment and training opportunities for people with disabilities. Chimes operates in Israel, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

Before joining Chimes in 2016, Blackwell was chief operating officer of Services for the Underserved, a Manhattan-based agency that serves veterans and people with intellectual disabilities, behavioral and mental health and substance abuse issues. A licensed school principal, board-certified behavior analyst, and certified addictions specialist, he also has been a direct-care counselor for a community-based residence and led the development and operation of preschool programs for children with disabilities under New York’s state education department.

Blackwell said he would advise people who want to be more active in promoting the good of others to begin by looking at St. Teresa of Calcutta. “The problems society faces have always been so enormous and we think one person can’t make a dent in this. Her approach was, ‘I can only deal with one person in front of me.’ I think that’s a good way to live life.”

Filling the ‘empty nest’

For Jim and Jacki Delaney, philanthropy is about giving their time, talent, and treasure to ministries and organizations they believe will make a difference in society or the world.

That makes for a long list of involvements for the busy Philadelphia Legates, who this month on November 14 will receive the American Catholic Historical Society’s Barry Award for distinguished professional accomplishments and contributions to the Church and community.

Although the Delaneys learned the importance of giving from their parents and Catholic education, they said it was their participation in the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s Church Ministry Institute that took their efforts to a new level.

“We were looking for something to do as we were becoming empty nesters and we read about the program in the church bulletin and signed up,” Jacki recalled. “The purpose of the Institute is to remind us that through Baptism we all are called to the mission of the Church.” Through three years of classes in Church history, ministry skills, lay mission, and spirituality, the couple learned about what it means to use their talents for the Church. Following their graduation in 2006, both became Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and lectors in their parish of St. John Vianney, Gladwyne, Pa. But that wasn’t all.

Jim’s ministry project for the program had been on starting a parish Bible study and he began one at St. John. “I had intended to do it a few years and move on,” he said, “but I stayed because the 15 people in the study were so excited about it, I couldn’t leave.”

The CEO of J.D. Capital Partners, Inc., Jim is chairman emeritus of the board of Neumann University in Aston, Pa., and last year completed a 10-year term on the board of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa. He currently serves on the boards of the National Catholic Community Foundation, the Foundation for Catholic Education, Prayer Unites the World, the Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute (PHILO), and Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill, Pa. He also is on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops National Advisory Council and serves with Jacki on the Catholic Leadership Institute’s national advisory board.

In addition, the Delaneys have been involved with retreats for homeless people at the Malvern Retreat House, where Jacki is on the board and will become chairman in April, 2019. Jacki’s service also has included the Catholic Social Services board in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Barnes Foundation Alumni Association, of which she is president emeritus. For 11 years, she has been overseeing the Archbishop’s Benefit for Children, a year-long initiative that provides support for children’s charities in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

When the Delaneys receive the Barry Award this month, they plan to place a flyer at each guest’s place listing the organizations they are involved in with contact information on how to help. “We’re truly humbled by receiving the award in light of who the past recipients have been,” Jacki said, “but truly, it’s not about us. It’s about who we serve and we want them to be part of that award.”

Through the blessing of God

Though regarded as philanthropists by others, Joe Roxe and his wife, Maureen, would never describe themselves that way.

“We lead very simple lives and have been blessed by God with the means to support a small number of causes with which we have become deeply involved,” said Joe Roxe, a member of the Legatus Fairfield County Chapter.

Foremost among those causes is Catholic education, including Roxe’s alma mater of Chaminade High School on Long Island and Bishop Frank Caggiano’s efforts to expand Catholic education in the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT. Roxe said going to Chaminade, an all-boys school where he graduated in 1954, had a greater impact on his life than did attending Princeton University and the Harvard Business School.

The Roxes also support other causes, such as the arts, through a charitable foundation that bears their name. The foundation was established in 1998 after Joe sold the private company in which he had been a partner. He serves as the foundation’s chairman.

Additionally, the Roxes give of their time. Joe is a former trustee of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, and has served as a trustee of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and the U.S. Naval War College Foundation, as well as an overseer of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He is also a member of the Bridgeport Diocese’s Finance Council and Chairman of the Investment Committee of the Diocese.

“We find involvement with these prestigious institutions to be very rewarding, frequently mind bending, and always stimulating,” Joe said.

Joe, who is chairman of Bay Holdings, LLC, said he views the support he and his wife provide as very modest compared to “true philanthropists” who make multi-million-dollar gifts to some of the same institutions they consider it a privilege to help.

Maureen is an overseer of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and a former long-term trustee of the New York Medical College.

Joe and his wife are a Knight and a Dame of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and
of the Papal Order of Saint Sylvester.

JUDY ROBERTS is a Legatus magazine staff writer

On Philanthropy

The purpose of Legatus is to help its members be better Catholics. The Church and Scripture make it clear that regardless of the level of our wealth, we are all called to support the Church and our fellow man with our material resources, or in other words practice philanthropy. I hesitate to write about this topic, but do so because it is the theme of this month’s issue and because it is an important part of being a good Catholic, not because I spend part of my time raising money for the various institutions that I founded.

Tom Monaghan

We all know that there are many motivations for giving and myriads of organizations and causes seeking our support. When I founded Legatus, I was hoping that a manifestation of members being more engaged Catholics would be that they would not only be more charitable in terms of the level of their giving, but also more discerning in terms of the organizations / charities they support. Just as we explore where we invest our funds, I envisioned Legates would take the time to research the various needs and ministries out there and then give to particularly high-priority and effective causes that further the faith.

I am convinced that as more Legates give to highly worthwhile Catholic causes, that individually and collectively they will have an incredible impact on the Church and on their own souls. I believe that philanthropy is also something that is learned and needs to be modeled. As Legates practice philanthropy, I think they will inspire others in their local churches and communities to do the same and also hopefully model this practice for future generations.

As you know, the only cause Legatus can raise money for is Legatus – namely its endowment. There are two purposes for our Endowment Fund: (1) To provide a rainy day account in the event there is some sort of economic setback and (2) To fund international expansion after we cover most of North America with chapters. We mention it on our renewal forms, but we really have not pushed it much over the years. We raise about $10,000 per year.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO.

Connected for Good

John Stanley says the best kind of generosity is done with others, not for others . . .

stanleyConnected for Good
John Stanley
Beacon, 2013
240 pages, $25.00 hardcover

A member of Legatus’ Milwaukee Chapter, Stanley contends that the best kind of generosity is done with others, not for others. People of means are growing weary of fundraising run by charity leaders who’ve adopted the tactics of professional salespeople. They’re looking for ways to make change that’s important to them, rather than just responding to an endless stream of appeals and campaigns.

Subtitled A Gameplan for a Generous Life, the book presents a fresh model for generosity. Going beyond the traditional time, talent, and treasure, Stanley encourages giving from the renewable currencies of relationships, strengths, and resources.

Order: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

A passion for giving

Faith and education are priorities for Legates Donald and Michele D’Amour . . .


Even when they were a typical young couple struggling to make their mortgage payments, Donald and Michele D’Amour were guided by their Catholic faith to give to others.

“Regardless of how little we had, we were taught that we should learn how to share,” said Donald, chairman and CEO of Big Y foods, one of New England’s largest independent supermarket chains.

Philanthropic priorities

With giving already a priority, it was a natural progression for the D’Amours — as their lives evolved and their business grew — to consider ways they could channel their expanding resources into institutions and causes in need of assistance.

Now, through their generous personal and corporate gifts, the D’Amours — members of Legatus’ Western Massachusetts Chapter — are known as models of philanthropy, particularly for their work in education.

In recognition, Donald’s alma mater — Assumption College in Worcester, Mass. — awarded them honorary degrees in May. And on Oct. 4, the National Catholic Educational Association presented the D’Amours with the group’s highest honor, the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award, for significant contributions to Catholic education.

Among their most noteworthy gifts are $4.2 million to Assumption College and $4 million to the Springfield Museums in Massachusetts, but they have also provided scholarships for Catholic elementary students. In addition, they’ve developed the Fides et Ratio Challenge Grant Competition to encourage small Catholic colleges to build on their Catholic identity in the areas of curriculum, campus life and admissions.

Besides their private giving, the couple has parlayed their interest in education into Big Y’s corporate donation program through a variety of initiatives — many overseen by Michele, who serves as educational partnership administrator for the company.

Big Y gives away more than $250,000 in scholarships every year — and its Education Express program has donated more than $4.5 million in equipment and other aid to 1,800 schools. Additionally, the Big Y Homework Helpline answers 300 to 350 calls per week when school is in session.

A heart for education

Michele, a former teacher who has served on the board of Springfield’s diocesan schools, says education is near to the couple’s hearts. “We are firm believers that it is important to educate the mind and the soul to produce productive moral leaders for tomorrow,” she said.

Francesco Cesareo

Francesco Cesareo

When he first met the D’Amours, Assumption College president Francesco Cesareo said he sensed their commitment to advancing Catholic education on all levels — but in particular Catholic higher education. “They really seemed to understand how important it was for the future to be able to do whatever is possible not only to sustain, but to strengthen Catholic education.”

The D’Amours say their giving has been motivated primarily by opportunities and needs. “Our choices are based on where we can do the most good,” Michele explained, “where our help will be a catalyst or open a door for an institution to enrich the minds and souls of students and to help with the propagation of the faith.”

“Generally speaking,” Donald added, “we try to give where we can have the most positive beneficial effect.” This means, for example, that the couple is more likely to give to a smaller Catholic college where their gift will have a greater impact than to a large school with a substantial endowment.

The D’Amours’ passion for these initiatives goes well beyond simply writing a check. “They’re very much interested in seeing the results of what they are supporting,” said Cesareo. “They’re interested in providing the support in terms of resources, but also the moral support in carrying through what they have endorsed through their philanthropy.”

NCEA president Karen Ristau says the D’Amours’ immersion in the causes and institutions they support is part of who they are. “It isn’t done from a distance,” she explained. “It’s a real heartfelt involvement.”

Informed giving

Karen Ristau

Karen Ristau

There’s a personal element to the D’Amours’ giving that is highly intelligent and informed, said Robert Royal of the Faith and Reason Institute. “You can support existing programs at colleges and universities, but it takes a new thinking to change the atmosphere in which a lot of this transpires.”

Donald said the couple prays and studies about how to direct their funds, trying to make sure that whatever they’re involved in has the best chance of working. He says that their giving is a participation in the evangelical mission of the Church — whether they’re supporting the Catholic intellectual tradition or art.

“The last two popes emphasized the unity of faith, truth and beauty,” he said. “They’re all connected. We’re basically doing that missionary work we’re all called to do.”

At home, the D’Amours have tried to instill their commitment to giving in their five children by establishing charitable funds for them and allowing them to make their own decisions about where to make donations.

Michele said they’ve encouraged their adult children to find their own giving niches. Donald added that they emphasize giving as a matter of sharing time and talent as well as money.

The D’Amours have a simple philosophy for giving. People who want to get started in philanthropy, Michele said, should determine where their interests are and what they would like to see happen. Then it’s important to ensure their investment is used for the purpose they intended.

“And stay involved,” added Donald. “So many people gave huge endowments years ago, but they would be turning over in their graves if they saw their funds being used for things they wouldn’t support. You can’t just give dollars and be done. You have to research, follow up, measure outcomes and stay informed.”

passion-mugThe couple has been careful not to create dependencies, Donald said. “Sometimes, if you give an institution money, it becomes part of the annual operating budget and it doesn’t create change.” To avoid making such gifts, the D’Amours look to a network of friends and resources to steer them toward causes that are appropriate and away from ones that may not bear fruit.

Royal said the D’Amours are a model for business people who are also philanthropists.

“Their philanthropy and their business practices are seamless,” he said. “They make money in what I call a Catholic way. They’re locally engaged and also looking out toward the horizon for the bigger picture of what they can do. It’s inspiring when you come across a couple like this who are trying to do the right thing in every dimension of their lives.”

Judy Roberts is a Legatus Magazine staff writer.


Faith and reason

When Donald and Michele D’Amour decide to fund a project or propose a program, the idea often springs from a conversation, a contact at a social gathering or something they’ve read.

The genesis of the Fides et Ratio Challenge Grant Competition followed the couple’s reading of Pope John Paul II’s 1998 encyclical of the same name on the relationship between faith and reason.

“It got us talking over dinner about what we could do,” Michele recalled. At the time, she said, they were disturbed to see that many Catholic colleges had strayed from theit original mission. So they started and funded a program that encourages Catholic colleges to strengthen their Catholic identity. Since the first grants were made in 2001, the program has awarded $1.5 million to six schools.

Next came the Fides et Ratio seminars, started in 2006 with the goal of bolstering understanding of the Catholic intellectual tradition and appreciation of Catholic liberal education among faculty members from Catholic colleges, universities and seminaries in the U.S., Canada and South America.

Conducted under the auspices of the Faith and Reason Institute, the seminars began with 20-30 professors and administrators coming together for a week during the summer. This past summer, the seminars were held at five different locations for 130 faculty from 65 schools.

“The seminars,” said Robert Royal of the Faith and Reason Institute, “Inspire faculty to go back to their institutions and from within them bring a fresh spirit or a new dynamism.” Since the seminars’ inception, nearly 350 faculty at some 70 institutions across the country have attended a seminar and had an experience of renewal in their exposure to the Catholic intellectual tradition.

—Judy Roberts

Blessed are those who give

Generosity is a hallmark of Legates who never fail to impress with their lived faith . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

Legatus members never fail to impress me. In a world that often seems to be controlled by people with a secular humanist worldview and a good dose of moral relativism, Legates stand out like a sore thumb. And that’s a good thing.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to spend a little time with Donald and Michele D’Amour, who are featured in this month’s cover story (Click here for a related story). I learned that they’re successful for many reasons — including the fact that they’re purpose-driven, both in business and in philanthropy. And most importantly, their faith informs their decisions in every aspect of their lives.

The D’Amours’ generosity has not gone unnoticed. In May, Assumption College awarded them honorary degrees. And just last month, the National Catholic Education Association bestowed upon them their highest honor — the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award — for their commitment to higher education.

Shortly before going to press with this issue, I learned that on Oct. 2, St. Louis Chapter members P. Scott and Kathleen Hummel were inducted into the Smurfit-Stone Entrepreneurial Alumni Hall of Fame of the John Cook School of Business at St. Louis University. They founded Our Little Haven, a program for children who are suffering from abuse, neglect, drug exposure or HIV impact. Since 1993, the couple’s programs have helped more than 4,000 children.

Philanthropy and helping those most in need seems to be a theme for all Legatus members, beginning with founder Tom Monaghan. In August, he joined dozens of other billionaires in committing to give away large chunks of their wealth as part of a pact. The Giving Pledge, thought up by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, is a $125 billion charity drive that involves some of the world’s wealthiest families.

When Gates approached Monaghan about the pledge a month ago, the Domino’s Pizza founder didn’t think twice about participating. “It’s a great idea to encourage people who have that kind of money to give it to charity,” he told the Naples Daily News. “When Bill [Gates] recently contacted me, I was more than happy to participate. I’ve already committed virtually everything I have to charities.”

All Legates, billionaires or not, use their means and influence for good. They’re among the first to “give back” from what God has given them. They know, too, that any recognition they receive is both an honor and a burden, bringing with it a visibility that can draw an overwhelming number of requests for help. For those embarking on large-scale giving, the D’Amours offer excellent advice like making sure donations go where they can do the most good and following up to see that goals are being accomplished. Those who are willing to stand out like “sore thumbs” are actually giving twice — first to those who receive their help, and second to those for whom they are a reassuring light in the darkness.

Patrick Novecosky is Legatus Magazine’s editor.