Opening Remarks at AFP Las Vegas’ National Philanthropy Day Celebration
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Las Vegas chapter and the Association of Fundraising Professionals, I want to thank you for being here and extend our deep gratitude to the sponsors of today’s celebration – Bank of America, Nathan Adelson Hospice and Lou Ruvo Cleveland Clinic Center for Brain Health. Their generosity and thoughtfulness has made it possible for us to honor and recognize the power of philanthropy in our community and we are deeply grateful.
Representing over 30,000 individuals and organizations worldwide, AFP’s mission is to empower individuals and organizations to practice ethical fundraising through professional education, networking and advocacy.
National Philanthropy Day is just one of the many ways in which we do that, both at the local and national level. We are proud, this week, to stand with our fellow chapters across the country who are recognizing the heroic acts of philanthropy in all of our communities.
What is perhaps most powerful, to me, is that the award recipients are nominated and chosen by the community – we, here at the chapter, don’t know who they are until they’re announced. This recognition is truly one that comes from the people and organizations who have been impacted most by our Honorees’ generosity. These truly are a recognition from a grateful community.
And if there is any community that has truly shown what philanthropy – the love of humankind – looks like, it is certainly Las Vegas in these last few months. I don’t think any of us have been more proud to call ourselves Las Vegans and none of us have been unaffected by the profound stories of both unspeakable tragedy and limitless love that we continue to see every day.
I first moved to Las Vegas in 2002 to work for Diane Carlson and Bill Freyd at IDC and it was a little tough explaining to people in a city like Chicago, where I moved from, that, yes, I’m moving to Las Vegas to work as a fundraising consultant. Their response was usually, “And just how are you going to do that? Hit people up for their buckets of change at slot machines?”
Their second response was typically, “Vegas just isn’t a town with a sense of community. There’s no philanthropy there, people just don’t give.”What I found – what all of us, native and transplants alike have found – was, of course, completely opposite.
My first apartment was a wonderful two-story townhouse that had been the model home, so it had mature landscaping and these beautiful, tall mesquite trees. Walking out onto the second floor balcony was like living in a treehouse. I would sit there at night and listen to the wind in those trees and I could see the light from the Luxor. I thought it was the coolest thing, being able to sit there and see this iconic beacon that represented a town I’d already come to love.
My colleagues, who are here today, will tell you that I’m not always great with complex statements; things that are confusing throw me off. Statements like: “Just head North on Lake Meade and you’ll be right there” or “Head East on Tropicana.” It did take me a little while to get my bearings and I finally realized that if Sunrise Mountain is over there to the right and the Stratosphere is up there, then . . . . there’s no way that can be the light from the Luxor I’m staring at every night.
It was the light from the Von’s parking lot at the intersection of Pecos and Windmill.
But it didn’t matter. It really wasn’t about the light itself, it was about what it represented.
To me, that light represented a new beginning, a new career, a new adventure. The Hope of a New Day.
And isn’t that what philanthropy is? Isn’t that what our honorees today have shown us all?
Philanthropy is all about hope.
Philanthropy is the light at the intersection of Hope and Action.
And that is what we celebrate today. So, thank you. On behalf of the children and families and organizations and community who have been the beneficiaries of your philanthropy, of the hope that you provide – thank you!
Welcome to National Philanthropy Day.
And welcome to FABULOUS Las Vegas – this is where love lives.