More than 300 representatives of the business and the non-profit community along with donors, volunteers and county and city officials attended the Delaware County Foundation’s fifth annual Evening of Generosity.
Attendees joined in celebrating the Outstanding Business, Chesrown, Chevrolet, GMC, Buick; Outstanding Volunteer, Barbara Matta; Spirit of Philanthropy Awardees, Holly and Bob Gerspacher; and the Outstanding Youth Group, the Delaware Area Career Center’s Youth Service Club.
Awardees were selected as a result of nominations from throughout the County.
During the event, Marlene Casini, President and CEO of the Foundation, announced the Foundation had awarded $1.6 million in grants and scholarships throughout the community — another record. She also recognized and thanked those in the room who created charitable funds at the Foundation and made this new milestone possible.
“We never know from year to year how this community is going to give,” said Casini. “There is always a wonderful surprise of generosity for which we are deeply grateful.”
During the evening, two grantees were showcased: HelpLine of Delaware and Morrow Counties, and Partners In Play.
According to Susan Hanson, President of HelpLine, “We have collaborated with the Foundation on multiple projects including an anti-bullying program and emergency shelter for the homeless.” Hanson noted that strong communities have strong community foundations like the Delaware County Foundation.
Gina Grywalski, who created the nonprofit Partners In Play, thanked the Foundation for its support of their summer camp for children with anxiety and autism.
“The success of any such event is dependent on generous sponsors,” says Jane Martin, Foundation Board Member and the event chair. “We are deeply grateful for the support of our Presenting sponsor, Chesrown Chevrolet Buick GMC,” said Martin. Chesrown also hosted a sponsor kickoff, held this spring at the dealership.
First Commonwealth Bank showed its continued support for the Foundation and the community through its Platinum Sponsorship. Additional major sponsors included Nationwide, T & R Properties, Inc., Trucco Construction Company, and Robert Weiler Company.
Joining them were gold sponsors AEP Ohio; Elaine and Todd Irion; Kephart Fisher LLC; Luvata Ohio, Inc.; Mount Carmel Health System; OhioHealth; Taft Law; Weller, Steele, Miller, LLC; and Women Giving Together.
There were 31 Silver Sponsors. Also helping to make the evening a gala event were Ciminello’s Inc. Landscaping; Dan Rowan Trio; Foertmeyer and Sons Greenhouse; IDS Image Design Studios Photography; Klatte Photography; Shared Vision Communications and What the Tux.
The night however, belonged to the Awardees featured below:
Outstanding Business, Chesrown
Jim Gill brought Chesrown Chevrolet Buick GMC to Delaware in 2002 and expanded its dealership across Route 23 in 2015. Joining him in the successful dealership are his sons Ryan and Joey. Their collective energy encourages and motivates employees and others to engage in philanthropy and community service. Chesrown builds a culture of civic and charitable engagement through support to numerous community organizations Chesrown’s community involvement and generosity impacts lives now and for the future. Their commitment is exemplified through a gift of a quarter of a million dollars to the Delaware City Schools’ Hayes High School. This significant contribution will have a tremendous impact on current and future lives of youth and their families. Their support doesn’t stop this donation; the Gill Family makes a concerted and positive effort to attend sporting events, visit the school and be involved in the school community.
As part of the Strand Theatre’s Century of Cinema Campaign, Chesrown made a major multi-year monetary commitment for capital improvement funds to renovate and modernize the Strand Theatre in Delaware. One of the oldest continuous, first-run movie theaters in the United States, it is an anchor of downtown. In addition, Chesrown further supported The Strand by being the presenting sponsor and supplying valet parking for its 100th anniversary gala.
This is Chesrown’s fifth year as the Presenting Sponsor of the Delaware County Foundation’s Evening of Generosity. In addition to generating significant revenue for the Foundation, the one-of-a-kind event encourages and motivates individuals and businesses inside and outside of Delaware County towards philanthropy. The Evening of Generosity is a successful celebration of generosity because Chesrown Chevrolet Buick GMC stepped up in the first year to be the Presenting Sponsor, helping to ensure the event’s success. Chesrown’s support continues the spirit of the evening by providing free valet parking for guests. In addition, for the last three years, the dealership has hosted the Kick-off Breakfast for sponsors of the Evening of Generosity. This event has also helped showcase the Foundation and its value to the community.
Their corporate citizenship shines through even in the most difficult times. A significant contribution to the community is made by businesses that are good employers. Chesrown has contributed as a model employer. When the first Delaware dealership was purchased there were 36 employees; today there are over 100. During the Great Recession, although Chesrown as an auto dealer struggled, it did not lay off a single employee; rather, the hard times were weathered by compensation being reduced, with the Gill Family bearing the largest pay reductions, both in raw dollars and in percentage.
There are a myriad of other organizations and groups where Chesrown has provided support and service which has been meaningful and contributory to the Delaware community. These include 15 years of supporting the Delaware County Fair, Lutheran Social Services, Common Ground Free Store, Grady Hospital and Make a Wish Foundation.
Outstanding Volunteer, Barbara Matta
Through her endearing leadership style, Barb Matta inspires many to join her efforts to make philanthropy engaging and fun. The list of her support to charitable causes is long and impressive for the breadth of her support as well as the number of programs that benefit from her involvement. Barb is a founding member of the Women’s Leadership Network of the United Way of Delaware County. She was the first person to receive the WLN Visionary Award for her tireless efforts to engage women in giving.
Through this affiliation, she and her husband, Thad, took on a leading role as co-chairs for the capital campaign to create Turning Point’s new domestic violence shelter in Delaware County.
Her contacts and connections have opened doors to other generous individual and corporate donors to support these efforts. She has also helped the campaign through her participation as a member of the Delaware County Foundation’s giving circle, Women Giving Together. Barb’s enthusiasm for this project is reflected in all she does, including visiting nonprofit partners and reviewing and recommending support from Women Giving Together’s grant dollars.
Barb’s giving and volunteer efforts go beyond Delaware County. These activities include support and involvement with Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital. Teaching the spirit of generosity, she enlisted her daughters in the Buckeye Dance Marathon for Children’s Hospital. They helped to feed the dancers during the middle of the night. She also introduced young Ohio State basketball players to the Ronald McDonald House. There, she and her family donated and designed the meditation room as a quiet, restful place for families in need of peace, tranquility or prayer.
For the Kidney Foundation’s Cooking with the Stars event, she annually brings former athletes to participate and promote the event. Helping in education and child development, she assists struggling first-graders with reading as a volunteer in her sister’s first grade classroom. A positive role model, Barb also supports the Second and 7 Foundation by donating books to promote reading for children in need.
Additional support goes to the Common Ground Free Store, Lutheran Social Services Mobile Food Pantries, Supplies for Scholars of Delaware County United Way.
Barb uses her resources to make a positive difference in young lives through Make a Wish by supporting events and finding new donors who will be wish-granters. Through A Kid Again she helps make positive life-long memories for families with children with life-threatening illnesses.
Barb brings new people and resources to the non-profit organizations she supports, making Delaware County a much better place and spreading the spirit of philanthropy. By incorporating her family and friends in her philanthropic efforts, Barb dedicates her life to helping others in a very humble, approachable, spirited, quiet way.
Spirit of Philanthropy, Bob and Holly Gerspacher
“Philanthropy has always been given a special place in our lives. Our parents taught us, should you become fortunate enough to become self-sufficient, you owe the excess to humanity,” says Bob and Holly Gerspacher. They live this ideal. The Gerspachers are unsung heroes, never wanting anyone to know all the wonderful things they do for the Delaware community. They do their work and give behind the scenes. They credit their spirit of philanthropy to their parents and grandparents being great role models.
Their volunteer efforts and charitable donations spread far and wide, from the Delaware community, to Central Ohio and nationally. They have volunteered for years at St. Mary Catholic Church and St. Mary School. Through ushering, helping the Brownies, Boy Scout and Girl Scout Troops, and volunteering at just about every church event from festivals to bazaars, fun raising campaigns and even the garden committee. They provide bicycle helmets for every St. Mary’s second grader just before the school end. They work with the Friends for Life of the Delaware General Health District and the Delaware Police Department to ensure student safety.
They have helped 60 to 80 students a year for the past 12 years.
In the community, their work is seen through the Delaware Preservation Coalition, Northwest Neighborhood Association, the Arts Castle, Andrews House, the annual Arts Festival, the Strand Theater and the Delaware County Historical Society. They are fortunate to be involved with several projects with the Delaware County Historical Society which facilitated the Porter Family’s donation of the Meeker Homestead, one of the main sites as you enter the City of Delaware.
Bob and Holly also helped obtain the State and National Register Status for the City of Delaware Northwest Historical Residential District and Delaware County Old Jail and Sheriff Residence. They spent countless hours working on these projects over many years.
Tragedy struck the Gerspacher family when their son, Christopher, was killed on December 22, 2001. It would have been easy for them to stop doing things for others and just “take care of themselves.” Instead, they turned tragedy into something positive by creating the Christopher Gerspacher Memorial Fund, where Bob and Holly are among the Trustees. Through this Fund, they have supported programs such as: Preservation Parks of Delaware County, Ohio State Study Abroad Program at The Ohio State University, Bishop Watterson High School, St. Mary Elementary School, Ohio Wesleyan Early Childhood Center, Gerspacher Park, Beavercreek, Ohio, Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology, Parents of Murdered Children-Central Ohio Chapter, sponsored riders for the annual Pelotonia bicycle tour for the James Cancer research, and other worthy charitable causes.
Bob and Holly believe there should be an effort to increase the well-being of humankind by charitable aid and/or donations to promote the love of humankind in general. Bob and Holly set a wonderful example of philanthropy and have made the Delaware community better through their actions and deeds.
Outstanding Youth Group, Delaware Area Career Center Youth Service Club
For over 15 years, student leaders from the Delaware Area Career Center have planned and implemented an annual food drive to support the People in Need Holiday Clearing House. Every year, DACC hosts a “Food Fight” at each of its campuses.
For one week, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, students collect food items for Delaware County’s People In Need. The class that brings in the most highly nutritious food items is crowned the winner.
The food is scored on a point system, with more points going towards food with higher nutritional content.
The winners are awarded the opportunity to transport and sort the food for PIN at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. Student classes get bragging rights for a year with a traveling plaque to be displayed for a year in the winning classroom.
The competition among classes/labs can get intense. Student leaders in each lab collect and score the food donations daily. The scores are posted on a large tally sheet in the cafeteria for all to see. Daily announcements keep everyone in the know on what lab is leading that day.
Student leaders in each room encourage their classmates to adjust goals depending on the daily score and increase efforts to upset the leading group.
The community impact from the DACC/PIN partnership has grown significantly over the years. When it started, the Clearing House distributed more than 12,000 meals. The total has grown to more than 25,000 meals provided. The DACC youth stand out among the many groups that participate in the Clearing House as innovators and those who set an example for other groups to follow.
The Food Fight gets students involved in collecting, sorting, stocking and delivering busloads of contributions to people who need it. The activities surrounding the event raise awareness among the students, their home schools and their families, as well as provide food for the local community. With newspaper and social media coverage, they extend the awareness throughout the community.
The youth involvement with PIN has also included moving toys for the Holiday Clearing House, that were stored in the attic of PIN’s former location by creating a human chain down the stairs and out the door. They loaded the toys into the school bus in which the students arrived and then walked to the fair grounds to unload it.
Though youth are often portrayed negatively in the media, this is a time when approximately 700 youth come together to help others. Their actions show that when everyone gives a little bit, the synergy of the effort is beyond what they could imagine.
Participation in such community projects teaches students the importance of giving. Students learn that no matter how difficult life may be for them at times, there are always people who have a greater need. Sometimes, the students who donate the most, are not far from needing assistance themselves.
Polaris Centers of Commerce pleased the crowd by hosting a martini luge with the complimentary drinks for the first 100 guests. Joining the festivities were Co-Masters of Ceremonies and Delaware County residents, Tom Bosco from WSYX, Columbus Channel 6, and local comedian, Jeff Robinson.
Information for this story was provided by the Delaware County Foundation.