Philanthropic muscle

I’ve been privileged to get to know a couple of families who have taken their unique challenges and turned them into blessings for causes they care about.

The Eva Fini Fund was started by Amie and Albert Fini of Goshen, NY.  Their beautiful fifth daughter, Eva, was born with a rare, debilitating disease called Rett Syndrome.  Most of us would use whatever energy we had just to deal with the huge emotional and physical toll it would take on us.  But the Fini family has found a way to turn their challenge into a triumph.

This past Saturday evening, family, friends, work associates and an extended community joined together for a world-class event at the Fini estate.  The Fini’s are, like most of us, guarded about their personal lives, but for one day each of the past three years, they’ve selflessly raised the curtain on the very private world that they and Eva go through every day, and, lead this year by the amazing talent of 10 year-old Gabriella Fini, they allow Green Ink to help them put together a video that shares Eva’s beautiful personality and the challenges she and her care givers face every day.  The result: close to $.5M raised for Rett research in just over two years.  From tragedy to triumph.  What an inspiration!

And, in the same town of Goshen lives Debra Randazzo, one of two sisters who have created a not-for-profit, Hailey’s Hope Foundation.  This cause is dedicated to helping families with premature infants to cope financially and emotionally with the challenges associated with having their pregnancy cut short – often by months.   Imagine thinking your wife would be working up until the ninth month only to find that now neither of you can be going to work because you can not NOT be there for your struggling infant in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  Insurance and Ronald McDonald House can only cover so much.  It adds up: meals, parking, lodging, gas, babysitters…

The Randazzo family reaches out to their extended network and puts on a highly successful ‘Beach Bash’ gala event, and, this year, they’re putting together their first fund raising golf tournament.  They asked if I had any advice for them (I suppose since I’m a person whose name sounds like a golfer) and I suggested that they have a keg of cold beer at one or more of the holes and perhaps, as they had at the local scholarship fundraiser tournament I attended last week, Jello shots at the ‘closest to the pin’ hole in order to soften up the encouraged $20/per player donation to win the bag of clubs.

We all had a good laugh when Debra mentioned that the tournament they were creating would be a $5,000 per foursome donation and that they’d be having an open bar at every third or fourth hole.

“Nevermind,” I said.  “You know what you’re doing.”

Congratulations to the Fini and Randazzo families for all they’re doing.  May their work be as inspiring to other not-for-profits as it has been to me.