The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region’s coffers were boosted by two large gifts from women.
The estate of Phyllis “Philly” E. Dake, whose family founded Stewart’s Shops, donated $5 million — the largest single gift ever made to the foundation. Ellen Barrett Bevins, a retired Watervliet High School history teacher who died last January, also left a significant gift to the foundation. The exact amount of the donation was not disclosed.
“We love those gifts, especially when they’re so personal to the donor, which is what we have a lot of at the Community Foundation,” said Mindy Derosia, legacy partnership program officer for the organization.
The Dake gift will help continue the family’s Philly E. Dake “Make Your Own Scholarship Fund,” which is designed to offer scholarship assistance to family members of Stewart’s employees. Since its inception, the program has granted more than $2 million in assistance to more than 280 students.
Bevins’ estate will be used to grant two scholarships. One scholarship will be awarded to a graduating senior at Watervliet High School who best exemplifies leadership skills, a commitment to the improvement of school life and a willingness to work hard. Another award will go to a graduating senior from Heatly High School who has strong values, personal respect, the desire to achieve a committed work ethic and who has made significant contributions to the school and student body.
Bevins, a lifelong Troy resident, was remembered as dedicated and detail oriented and kind to the students. She came to work at 6:30 a.m. and greeted students who came in because her classroom was just inside the entrance to the school. When she retired in 1988 after 46 years of teaching, the students dedicated the yearbook to her, according to a Jan. 16 article in the Times-Union.
Foundation President Karen Bilowith said both gifts prove an important point about community giving. “Over the years, we have received gifts of all sizes from people in all walks of life. Some of these individuals are prominent in the community, while others are unsung, just quietly living normal lives. But generosity, it seems, is a fundamental human trait, one that cuts across all lines,” she said in a statement.
Both of the donations have the same goal, which is to help people in the Capital Region live better, healthier, more productive lives, with ever expanding opportunities to grow and flourish.
“It’s very appropriate, I think, that we note and celebrate these donations at this time of year,” Bilowith said. “They are gifts that weren’t necessarily expected — but that truly will never be forgotten.”
The Community Foundation has been around since 1968 and last year distributed more than $3 million to hundreds of nonprofit organizations. It has assets of $51 million and comprises more than 34 charitable funds. Two local independent foundations, the Bender Family Foundation and the John D. Picotte Family Foundation, contract with the Community Foundation for grant-making assistance.