National Philanthropy Day honors Aquinas grad

October 19, 2009
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Calvin College's Prince Conference Center plays host Nov. 5 to a scaled-down National Philanthropy Day celebration, sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and featuring lunch, a featured speaker and an awards presentation.

Among those receiving awards this year are Ben Richardson, who raised money this year for the American Cancer Society by collecting donations to hike the Appalachian Trail in honor of his late father, and State Farm Insurance, which has supported a variety of organizations in Kent and Kalamazoo counties with corporate philanthropy.

To keep the event fee an affordable $35 during a difficult economy for nonprofits, the AFP eliminated the conference portion of the day, said Anna Goddard, AFP vice president and communications chair and fund development coordinator for Clark Retirement Community. The luncheon begins at noon and the featured speaker is set for 2:30-4:30 p.m. Tickets for the luncheon only are $25.

The speaker is Marshall Howard, an author and expert on building powerful relationships. His presentation is intended for development and executive staff members and nonprofit board members. Each participant will receive a copy of Howard's book, "Let's Have Lunch Together."

In September, Richardson took the last step of his 2,178-mile, four-month journey on the Appalachian Trail. It was a trip the Traverse City student intended to take with his father, Ray, after his May graduation from Aquinas College. But Ray Richardson died of cancer in 2008. Ben Richardson decided to make the hike anyway. Working with Aquinas Communications Professor David Weinandy, he established a student project called "PennyBen." At a donation of a penny per mile — for a total contribution per donor of $21.78 — Richardson raised $14,219 for the American Cancer Society's support programs and services. The details of his journey from Georgia to Maine are posted at

Richardson is receiving the AFP's President's Award.

State Farm was nominated for Outstanding Corporation by Western Michigan University. In addition to supporting WMU and other programs in Kalamazoo County, State Farm has contributed to Grand Rapids organizations Spectrum Health, Habitat for Humanity, the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, United Way, Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women and Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities.

Also receiving awards: Dave and Jane Armstrong, Holland area philanthropists, for outstanding volunteer fundraiser; William and Julia Van Domelen, Kalamazoo area, distinguished philanthropist; and the Bernadine Mott Chapter of the National Honor Society at Comstock High School, outstanding youth in philanthropy.

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