Foundation celebrates giving

Published 7:56 pm Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Suffolk Foundation celebrated several years of philanthropy this week, bringing together supporters and friends for its sixth annual Community Forum and Luncheon on Wednesday at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

Foundation leaders also took the opportunity of having hundreds of Suffolk leaders present to announce a “Next Step Campaign,” a three-year effort to raise $1 million to sustain its philanthropic operations.

During the past seven years, according to Foundation Executive Director Win Winslow, the organization has made $6.1 million in gifts, including $2.99 million in non-discretionary gifts. During 2016, the foundation has given $116,000 to 27 grantees.


Email newsletter signup

Through the years, a wide variety of organizations has benefited from the foundation’s largesse, Winslow told the group. Nonprofits ranging from ForKids to the Suffolk YMCA to the Boys and Girls Club to the Western Tidewater Free Clinic and the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts have all received regular contributions.

“This is an asset to our community,” President Jay Butler told the group. “You can leave a legacy to our community.”

Children’s Literacy of Suffolk has been one of the foundation’s grantees, and Program Director Elizabeth Pipkin was on hand to describe the work that money made possible.

“We sought out partners that believed in community building and children’s education,” she said. “We are indebted to the foundation, and we thank them for their dedicated community support.”

Obici Healthcare Foundation Interim Executive Director Angelica Light presented the keynote address for the event.

Light talked about how many different factors are interconnected in determining a person’s physical health.

Education, she noted is especially important.

“Education has been repeatedly shown to be the primary determinant of income,” she said, adding that the health differences between low-income and high-income households are stark.

Low-income families, she noted, tend to eat poorly, forgo exercise and skip medication. They often live in unhealthy housing or in dangerous neighborhoods, and their lack of transportation can limit access to medical care, healthy food choices and exercise opportunities.

And, she added, “financial hardship is correlated with higher rates of stress and depression.”

All of this, Light said, translates into lower life expectancy for those who have financial hardships, compared to those who do not.

“The decisions made by government and business on proposed policies in transportation, housing, education, taxes, land use, etc., have consequences for the health of specific neighborhoods and the larger community,” she said.

“What we are now realizing is that there is a solid economic rationale — that is, a return on investment — for investing in education, job creation, transportation and the built environment, because of the very real savings in health care costs.”

The Suffolk Foundation, she said, has been a valued partner in helping to improve those investments.

“Community foundations such as the Suffolk Foundation, as well as corporate and private foundations, are often the best agents for bringing various sectors in a community together,” she explained.
“Foundations are neutral players that have expertise in initiating collaborative undertakings, have the influence to get people to the table and have the funds to get the ball rolling.”