Local leaders win praise on National Philanthropy Day


Members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Indian River chapter, rolled out the red carpet at the Vero Beach Theatre Guild to celebrate 13 honored leaders for their philanthropic contributions at the 17th annual National Philanthropy Day Awards Ceremony.

“When I first came to Vero about 15 years ago, it was only meant to be for a year,” said Jessica Schmitt, AFP president. “It’s the countless acts of generosity I witness in this philanthropic-minded community that truly made it feel like home.”

While the spotlight was on the stage, Schmitt said that everyone there – volunteers, donors and staff alike – had made an impact on the community.

“National Philanthropy Day is designed to celebrate those remarkable contributions and commitment to making lives better in Indian River County,” said Schmitt.

“Philanthropy means love of humanity and is often defined as giving of time, talent and treasure to help make life better for other people,” said Marty Mercado, NPD co-chair with Taylor Farnsworth.

Emcees Jeff Pickering, Indian River Community Foundation CEO, and Meredith Egan, United Way CEO, embraced the spotlight as they announced this year’s Honored Leaders.

Robert Bauchman: Nominated by the Boys & Girls Club as a community pillar for helping to navigate the club’s tremendous growth.

Don Drinkard: Nominated by United Against Poverty for investing his time over the past 19 years to help ensure its success.

Pat Harris: Nominated by the Youth Sailing Foundation for his tireless leadership as a volunteer and instructor.

Dr. Nancy Baker: Nominated by the We Care Foundation for her dedication as a volunteer physician, board member, board president and medical director.

Kerry Bartlett: Nominated by the Healthy Start Coalition for her dedication, compassion and wisdom while working for the betterment of the community.

Sam Block: Nominated by the Gifford Youth Achievement Center for providing free legal services to the less fortunate.

Deanna Pucciarelli: Nominated by the Substance Awareness Center for using her talents as a chef to help youth avoid the temptation of using drugs and alcohol.

Bill and Jean Borduin: Nominated by the Buggy Bunch for their more than 30 years of leadership and staff development expertise.

Richard Bradley: Nominated by the Youth Guidance and Mentoring Academy, for his willingness to roll up his sleeves and work to help children in need.

Dr. William Cooney: Nominated by the Hope for Families Center for his commitment and dedicated ambassadorship in helping the organization move forward.

Judi Miller: Nominated by Treasure Coast Community Health for her exceptional leadership skills, especially recruiting and managing 75 volunteers during the COVID vaccine rollout.

Susan Oglesby: Nominated by the Senior Resource Association for helping vulnerable seniors facing hunger, isolation and a loss of independence.

The United Way of Indian River County nominated the late Tom Segura for his efforts to improve all corners of our community. Acknowledged as one of United Way’s foremost supporters, Egan said “Indian River County and this community were incredibly lucky to have him serving.”

Introducing guest speaker Jane McNulty Snead, Mercado said that her story would put a face and a name to the importance and mission of philanthropy, which can have a positive impact on entire generations.

Snead shared that her life changed irrevocably following the death of her father when she was 5 years old.

“My life was a riches to rags to riches again story. Our family slowly lost everything, and I wound up living a life of adversity for much of my teenage years. I was married at 16, had three children by the time I was 20, and a heroin addiction by the time I was 21,” said Snead, now 20 years clean.

Snead said nearly 30 organizations helped her to become the person she is today.

“I decided I was going to dedicate my life to being part of these amazing organizations. I feel extremely blessed to be in a situation where I can be a voice for all the people who are still stuck in situations that I have managed to overcome,” said Snead, who is currently director of development at United Against Poverty.

Photos by Joshua Kodis

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