June 2015 Annual Meeting
Presiding for the last time as League Spokesperson, Sandy Smith conducted a brief business meeting at the Annual Dinner, held on June 8 at the Salt Creek Grille. Members had been asked to vote on three documents, emailed earlier. We approved the Leadership Committee and Princeton Area League Positions, with minor rewording of the latter suggested by Grace Sinden, who also thanked the Leadership Committee for its service. Sandy suggested a change in the proposed budget: an increase in the League's donations to the Princeton Historical Society and Princeton Community Housing (PCH) from $50 to $100. The increase was approved. Sandy thanked Ellen Kemp for her work as treasurer, and Sheila Berkelhammer thanked the League on behalf of PCH for its continued support and partnership.
Lenore Danielson, Frieda Gilvarg, and Ingrid Reed were recognized as 50-year members, and congratulations were extended to Lee Forbes, Melissa Scott, and Ellen Kemp, who have been elected to the Board of LWV-NJ. Finally, members of the LC thanked Sandy for her three years as Spokesperson.
Recounting the many times their career paths have crossed, Ingrid Reed introduced our speaker, Margarethe Laurenzi, Director of Leadership Grantmaking and Engagement for the Community Foundation of New Jersey. Margarethe began her talk with an overview of private philanthropy. Americans gave $335 billion dollars last year, with 87% of those gifts coming from individuals. There has also been a shift from large donations from a few rich individuals to many small donations, made online and through texting, by people of modest means who are moved by a cause.
Margarethe's goal was to explain how philanthropy intersects with social change through community foundations. She related stories about good people who had sought grants from her foundation to support their efforts to change the juvenile justice system by doing away with solitary confinement, by providing medical treatment and education, and by exposing maltreatment. After listening to the horrors that incarcerated juveniles may experience, the audience could understand why Margarethe said she lost sleep. We could also share her satisfaction that her foundation helps to bring an end to those horrors by supporting both policy related reform and projects proposed by individuals.
The foundation also funds the S.O.A.P. (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) Project in New Jersey, which is a national, hands-on outreach to fight sex trafficking associated with large events. Bars of soap wrapped with a red band that gives the National Human Trafficking Hotline number are distributed to high-risk motels, and hotel managers are educated about the signs of trafficking. .
Asked how League members might contibute, Margarethe said that, while giving money is useful, keeping legislators aware of issues like human trafficking and juvenile justice (a bill, S2003, regarding juvenile detention is pending) is important.
Margarethe concluded, saying that good philanthropy is good timing: it augments the work of the public sector, and it finds good people who are doing the work and supports them.
The next meeting will be Tuesday, September 15, 7-9PM, at the Suzanne Patterson Building in Princeton to finalize plans for Voter Service. Meanwhile, please watch your email to sign up to help with voter registrations and with debates and voter guides.