“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”    ― Albert Pike, author and philanthropist

True philanthropy means giving of yourself to improve the lives of others. No one personifies this credo more than Kathleen DiChiara (above), founder and president of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. It’s arguable that she has done more than any other individual to reduce hunger in the Garden State.

DiChiara was honored last week at the 34th Annual Excellence in Philanthropy Awards, where she received the Robert J. Smythe Award for Outstanding Professional Fundraiser. The awards, sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)-NJ Chapter, recognize extraordinary efforts in philanthropy and fundraising. The Munshine Group was a proud sponsor of this year’s event.

DiChiara, who will retire later this year, has devoted her life to feeding the hungry. She began her mission 40 years ago, delivering groceries out of the trunk of her car. Today, the FoodBank operates a 285,000 square-foot facility in Hillside, NJ, distributing some 40 million pounds of food a year. DiChiara says the problem of hunger has only gotten worse since she began her life’s work. One in five children in New Jersey does not have enough to eat. It’s a shocking statistic in a state with so much affluence.

The AFP Awards acknowledge those who dedicate themselves, day in and day out, to improving the lives of others. This type of generosity is not limited to individuals. This year’s Outstanding Corporation Award was presented to global communications company Verizon, whose philanthropy is led by the Verizon Foundation. The company recently launched a national effort aimed at helping the millions of Americans who are affected by domestic violence.

Verizon has found a great use for all the old mobile phones lying dormant in homes across the country. Through HopeLine, Verizon’s innovative recycling program, approximately 190,000 no-longer-used mobile phones have been refurbished and donated to domestic violence victims and survivors, empowering them to stay connected to friends, family, and vital resources. Verizon has set a goal of collecting and distributing one million cellphones by the end of the year. Donated phones can be dropped off in HopeLine bins located in Verizon Wireless retail stores, or mailed to Verizon with pre-paid postage labels available online. Learn more about the program here.

Other AFP Awards include:

  • Outstanding Foundation: Embrace Kids Foundation
  • Outstanding Community Organization: Woman’s Philanthropy Division of the Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon, & Warren Counties
  • Outstanding Philanthropists: Elaine and Mike Adler, Myron Corporation
  • Consulting Excellence: Elizabeth Zeigler, Graham-Pelton Consulting, Inc.

These individuals and organizations would all agree: it’s much better to give than to receive.