November 15, 2019 – I spent an amazing and inspiring day on the California Monterey Peninsula at the National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon. Sponsored by the Monterey Bay chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the event was packed with over 300 attendees and honored California Central Coast nonprofits and funders. The resounding message was to build lasting change community by community.

You didn’t need to look far for inspiration. High school student Leonardo Del Toro was honored at the event for organizing Christmas gifts for every child in the area. “It’s not impossible to do something big for the community,” said Del Toro. “When you commit to your idea, you can make a difference.” An eight-year-old student had raised thousands of dollars for the ASPCA. Other adults and companies were recognized for how much they support the work of the area’s nonprofit organizations. Finally, the representatives of 45 nonprofits were recognized for the work of their organizations.

I attended as a member of the board of directors of Chartwell School in Seaside, CA which meets the needs of children who have trouble in traditional educational settings. Listening to the stories and awards made me appreciate even more that the strength of a community starts with those working within it.