El Pomar Foundation Donates $500k to Colorado Hailstorm Victims

El Pomar Foundation Donates $500k to Colorado Hailstorm Victims

Aug 10

Hail is not typically seen as a disaster-scale weather incident, but those living in southern Colorado would beg to differ. Multiple hailstorms swept through the area this past week, dropping baseball-sized chunks of ice at terminal velocity. Most of the damage has been to cars, with hundreds of windshields smashed, but hail has also smashed though home windows and skylights, and damaged roofs as well. People have been injured, and a number of animals in the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo were killed by the projectiles from the sky. So far, 8,000 claims for vehicle damage have been submitted to insurance company USAA alone, and total damage was estimated to be around $500 million after only the first storms, on the weekend of August 4th and 5th. But for many, the damage isn’t covered, and replacing a windshield can run into the low thousands. On Thursday, El Pomar Foundation waded in to help, with a $250,000 donation to people dealing with hail damage. That was exhausted by noon of that day, and so on Friday, August 10th, they donated the same amount again. Applicants for the aid formed a line around the block. The two donations together are expected to help about 800 people. El Pomar Foundation is a general-service nonprofit founded in 1937 by Spencer Penrose, an entrepreneur and mining baron who invested an initial $21 million in contributing to the future of Colorado. They support a number of art and culture institutions, as well as the Colorado Wildland Fire Fund. Current estimates show the Foundation has had a $1.16 billion impact on the state of Colorado in nearly 80 years. Interestingly, Spencer Penrose also founded the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo which was so affected by the storms. The cleanup from these storms will take some time yet. Homes are damaged, auto dealerships are particularly hard-hit, and a rental car can’t be had in Colorado for love or money, with so many private vehicles...

Woman Donates Over 10,000 Handsewn Toys to Refugee Children

Woman Donates Over 10,000 Handsewn Toys to Refugee Children

Aug 03

Sarah Parson of Cedar Hills, Utah, has five children and a good heart. When she heard from a friend about refugee children in Greece who had nothing to play with in their camps but garbage and wildlife, she imagined her own children in their place. Her five are dedicated to their toys, and take so much joy in them. Parson realized after that 2015 conversation that she could offer something to children in straits like that. She had always made dolls for her own girls, so she could make them for anyone. She began immediately, founding Dolls of Hope, a charitable organization centered on sending children’s toys to refugee camps all over the world. As of 2017, they had sent over 10,000 toys to 23 countries. According to their most recent Facebook post, they are currently collecting for children in Syria, Uganda, Pakistan, and Kenya. Parson began the effort, but she’s not making toys alone. Her Facebook group posts patterns and organizes crafting groups to make and send handsewn dolls and bears abroad. A recent shipment sent 1,200 stuffed toys from her local group to children separated from their parents at the Mexico-U.S. border. “My hope is we are giving a little piece of their childhood back,” said Parson to Inside Edition. “That they can find comfort in that stuffed animal, or that doll. And that they can love that doll and hug that doll, even though they can’t hug their parents.” Of her own commitment, she said: “While it may seem overwhelming or we think the problem is too big, we could never solve the problem. We can’t let that immobilize us to doing nothing because that doesn’t help. So we have to start where we are, doing what we can.” Being a refugee is traumatizing. Being separated from one’s parents is traumatizing. Anything any of us can do to give play and childhood back to these effected children increases their chance of a successful future. Parson and her like are doing vital, needed...

Lottery Winner Starts Her Own Charity with Winnings

Lottery Winner Starts Her Own Charity with Winnings

Jul 13

Rachel Lapierre won the lottery in 2013—a one in seven million stroke of luck, netting her C$1,000 a week for the rest of her life. At the time, she was a nurse, a former Miss Quebec, and already a person dedicated to helping those around her. At 20, she ran a modeling school to help young women build careers under their own control in the fashion industry. Later, as a nurse, she worked in emergency departments and was a part of overseas humanitarian organizations. Lapierre was 56 when her numbers popped up on the Canadian National Lottery. “I figured that if I won, I would go ahead with this project of founding a charity,” she told le Journal de Montreal in 2013. And she’s done just that. Using her winnings to organize teams of volunteers under a charity called Le Book Humanitaire, she has worked in eight countries and counting. Beginning in her hometown of Montreal, providing food and clothes to the homeless, she has also traveled abroad, building things like street clinics in India, Haiti, and Senegal. “Money is money,” said Lapierre in an interview with the Mirror about her passion project. “When you’re born, you don’t have anything. And when you go, you go with nothing but your memories. You go with what you did here in life. “We just try to promote good deeds. Good deeds can be so many things. It can be a bike, it can be food, it can be transport to go to the hospital.” Lapierre’s winnings are supplemented by a number of partner companies to fund the charity, including Les Ateliers, Lunettes Dépôt, and international shipping company Transport Charrette. Lapierre’s whole life is a story about making sure that her successes elevated others with her. If one can be said to deserve to win the lotto, surely she did. And she continues to make sure that her rising tide lifts all...

Late Special Education Teacher Leaves $1 Million to Students

Late Special Education Teacher Leaves $1 Million to Students

Jul 11

For 45 years, Genevieve Via Cava taught and helped students with learning disabilities in Dumont, New Jersey. It was her life. In 2008, she told the superintendent of her school district, Emanuele Triggiano, that she would donate a million dollars to the Dumont School District. He assumed it was hyperbole, and laughed it off. When she passed away in 2011, he remembered her life of service and education, but not the off-hand promise. This April, he was reminded of the “joke” in the best way possible—by a check for $1 million from Via Cava’s estate. It may seem strange that a woman working in special education for a public school district could amass a million-dollar nest egg, but Via Cava lived a quiet, frugal life, and most of her needs were taken care of by her late husband’s pension. With no children or close family, her only thought of a legacy was towards the students to whom she dedicated her entire life. James Kennedy, a friend of Via Cava, said that she would continue to help her special education students into their adult lives, as long as 20 years after they graduated her classes. “She had an uncanny memory when it came to her students and could remember things that happened a long time ago,” said Kennedy. He met her as a student himself, and then proceeded to work with her as an adult, when he became director of special services and later principal of one of the schools in her district. The money Via Cava donated will be invested, the interest to provide scholarships to special education students from Dumont School District seeking opportunities in secondary education, $25,000 at a time. An incredible legacy from a woman who no doubt has left many such legacies in the people she helped to...

Allstate Donates Books to Schools Hit by Hurricane Harvey

Allstate Donates Books to Schools Hit by Hurricane Harvey

Jul 05

Before Hurricane Harvey, it had been 12 years since a major hurricane made landfall in the United States, the last of which being Katrina and Wilma in 2005. Within a four-day span, Hurricane Harvey pounded eastern Texas with as much as 40 inches of rain, which caused major flooding before it dissipated on September 2, 2017. Thousands of homes and businesses and dozens of schools were destroyed by the elements. Nearly a year later, some of those schools are being rebuilt. In the Houston Independent School District (HISD), which is the largest school district in Texas, four elementary schools were hit the hardest: Braeburn, Hilliard, Mitchell, and Scarborough. They lost everything, including their entire library collections. The Allstate Foundation, the philanthropic branch of the insurance giant by the same name, announced commitments immediately after Harvey to help Houston rebuild its schools. On July 3, 2018, the foundation donated $400,000 to help replenish those school libraries, as part of their “Rebuilding Our Readers” campaign. Friday, July 6, Allstate leaders will bring the donation in-person to the new building of Scarborough Elementary School, which was relocated. “We’re committed to helping Texas communities recover from this disaster, which is why we’re honored to be a part of this effort to replenish Houston ISD libraries with new books to replace those lost during Harvey,” said Larry Sedillo during a tour of the school. Sedillo is the Field Senior Vice President of Allstate in Texas. Since the hurricane, companies across the nation have donated over $72 million to relief efforts for Houston and other areas in need of restoration. Estimates for the total economic losses amount to between $81 and $125 billion, the higher of which puts Harvey on par with Katrina. In response to the outstanding nature of the damage, the name Harvey has been retired from the list of names for rotating...