A legacy of health

Published 9:47 pm Thursday, April 24, 2014

Continuing a tradition that owes its very existence to the generosity of a man who died more than half a century ago, the Obici Healthcare Foundation recently awarded a new round of grants to organizations working to help improve the health and welfare of people in Suffolk and the rest of Western Tidewater.

Foundation officials announced earlier this month that the organization had awarded $1.7 million worth of grants to 24 nonprofit organizations. It was the first of two rounds of grants the Foundation’s board of directors will announce this year. Award amounts among new and renewed grantees ranged from $16,490 to $200,000. The board expects to award more than $2 million in grants during the next round, later this year.

The Obici Healthcare Foundation’s financial support has made a huge difference in Western Tidewater. The Western Tidewater Free Clinic, for example, probably would not even exist today without the Foundation’s beneficence. And organizations from the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community to the Isle of Wight Christian Outreach Program are among the beneficiaries this year.

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Programs to be supported run the gamut from community gardens and farms to at-risk pregnancy screening to counseling for clients of the Western Tidewater Community Services Board. The programs have the potential to reach out and help many thousands of people in Suffolk and the surrounding areas.

And it all can be traced back to one man, Amedeo Obici, whose legacy was to bequeath a foundation that built a hospital in the middle of the 20th century. The subsequent merger of that hospital with Sentara Healthcare in 2006 provided the money that launched the modern Obici Healthcare Foundation and set it on a path to being one of the most important philanthropic foundations in the history of Western Tidewater, with more than $29 million worth of grants awarded since its inception.

“Grants made by the Foundation continue Amedeo Obici’s legacy of improving the health status of people living in the service area,” Gina Pitrone, Foundation executive director, said in a press release. “Mr. Obici, the founder of Planters Peanuts, was successful in business and passionate about helping the people in Western Tidewater and Gates County, N.C.”

Long after his death, he continues to generously help people in the adopted home that he loved so much.