Posts Tagged ‘philanthropy’

The Bloomberg Donation Stirs Memories of Meeting Eleanor Roosevelt

May 21, 2013

When I finished reading in the Rotarian magazine about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropic foundation’s gift of $100 million to support polio eradication efforts,   memories came flooding in about this crusade which was started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The one that stands out the most for me is when I interviewed Eleanor Roosevelt and Dr. Jona Salk in  January of 1958. I was working for WSB Radio in Atlanta at the time.  The station sent me to Warm Springs to do a piece for NBC Radio.  Mrs. Roosevelt and Dr. Jonas Salk, developer of the Salk polio vaccine, were among those who gathered at the small Georgia village made famous by FDR to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Foundation  for Infantile Paralysis.

I don’t remember what either of them said, but I do remember the impressions I got from those interviews.  Mrs. Roosevelt was gracious and all I had to do was get her started. Her words flowed easily as she enthusiastically talked about the Foundation. Dr. Salk was a lot more reserved and didn’t appear as comfortable being interviewed.  That could have been because she was an international public figure a long time before he became one. 

Not only did NBC Radio air rhe report nationally, but originated the Today Show with Dave Garraway, and Queen for a Day on NBC TV from Warm Springs that week.  

The Rotary Foundation has raised many millions as a global partner with Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the World Health organization, UNICEF, U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The effort has paid off with polio just about eradicated world-wide.

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Resuming the War on Poverty in Columbus

November 30, 2012
Betsy Covington

Betsy Covington, Executive  Director, Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley

Betsy Covington  really grabbed my attention when she told Columbus Rotarians that the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley now has assets of $95 million.  The Foundation can distribute the interest that is generated by that endowment to non-profit organizations that need it. The 200 funds that contributed that money can designate who gets it, but, as Betsy told me after her Rotary talk, the Foundation itself is given authority to decide who gets some of it.

Columbus’ greatest problem is poverty. That was determined by a study a few years ago by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute.  Former Muscogee County Schools Superintendent Guy Sims tells me that the problem has gotten worse, not better. Guy,  the original and unpaid Director of the Building Prosperity Initiative, which was organized to coordinate efforts to lessen the poverty problem in Columbus, says that program was put on hold three years ago after the 2008 Great Recession hit because charitable giving dried up. It appears  that now givers are feeling confident enough to start giving again.

The Building Prosperity Initiative, which has been on hold for three years, may crank back up and coordinate the effort to solve Columbus’ biggest problem, poverty. The program, headed up by former Muscogee County School Superintendent Guy Sims, with the help of Columbus business leader  James Blanchard,  did accomplish one of its goals before it became dormant, determining how to get people out of poverty. That was accomplished by a study  that was financed by a grant  from the  Community Foundation of the  Chattahoochee Valley.  Betsy says the study shows that “…there are three things a person can do that greatly lessens their statistical chance of living in poverty: graduate from high school, get some kind of a job, and wait until they are 21 and/or married before having children.” 

Guy Sims said the Building Prosperity Initiative now has an office in the state’s Enrichment Services building. To get things going again, he says, money has to be raised to hire an executive director. He donated his services to get the program started, but a salary will be necessary for a permanent director. No, he tells me, he is not a candidate for the job, but he is still supporting the program.