Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000
An important milestone was reached in August 2004 when the total amount of money donated through FMCA’s “Round Up” program passed the $1 million mark. This month I would like to share with you the background and history behind the “Round Up” program and give you information about each of the organizations that benefit from this charitable campaign.
Approximately 17 years ago, the FMCA Executive Committee decided that FMCA should search for a worthwhile cause to sponsor. After much research, in December 1988 the Executive Committee decided that it would be appropriate for FMCA to support two programs that reached out to those less fortunate and in need of help. In the words of then-national FMCA president Richard Hammann, L40104, “It was decided that the Family Motor Coach Association would adopt two new programs in an effort to reach out to families who are in need and to make a difference in the fight against illiteracy and homelessness …. We’re calling these programs ‘Round Up for Homeless Families’ and ‘Round Up For Literacy.'” The idea was that FMCA members who wished to do so could contribute to either of these causes in a convenient way by “rounding up” their dues renewal payments or making a donation anytime.
The funds that were collected via the association’s new “Round Up For Homeless Families” program were used to support the activities of the Better Homes Foundation. The funds collected by FMCA via its “Round Up For Literacy” program were to be donated to the Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA). FMCA leaders believed that FMCA was a logical sponsor for these programs, because FMCA members are families who can make a difference for other families.
As time passed, the two designated charities remained the same, albeit with organization name changes. Then, in March 2002, as a result of the extensive involvement of FMCA members in Habitat for Humanity International builds across the country and in conjunction with FMCA international conventions and area rallies, the Executive Committee decided to add Habitat for Humanity to the list of charities that FMCA members could support through the “Round Up” program.
Over the years FMCA also has had an ongoing relationship with the Good Will-Hinckley School for Boys and Girls in Hinckley, Maine. This relationship goes back to 1963, when FMCA’s founding families first met to form an association of “house car” owners on the school’s campus. In May 2003 the Executive Committee added the Good Will-Hinckley School as a fourth organization to which FMCA members could make voluntary contributions.
Have FMCA members really contributed more than $1 million to the FMCA “Round-Up” programs? That answer is a definite “yes.” However, a considerable amount of that money has come from one of FMCA’s commercial members. E*Trade Consumer Finance Corporation, formerly Ganis Credit Corporation, C4076, has been making a contribution to FMCA’s charitable campaigns each time an FMCA member takes advantage of its motorhome refinancing offers. Since 1992 E*Trade has donated a total of more than $508,850 to these campaigns in FMCA’s name.
Mitch Schatzen, director of marketing for E*Trade Consumer Finance Corporation, said, “Twelve years ago we recognized the opportunity to support FMCA’s commitment in supporting the community and proceeded to expand our benefits by donating a portion of our proceeds to FMCA’s charitable contributions.
“We are honored knowing that our recent milestone of more than a half-million dollars donated has enabled FMCA to exceed the one-million-dollar mark. We take great pride knowing that our contributions are making a difference.”
Mr. Shatzen added that community involvement is one of E*Trade Financial’s principal business philosophies, and that the company is committed to providing continuing support to FMCA’s Round Up campaign.
Many of us make charitable contributions to organizations that we feel are deserving and serve to improve the well-being of others. These “Round Up” programs were put in place to provide an opportunity for FMCA members to make a difference if they so desire. There has never been any intent to pressure members to contribute, and this summary of the program’s success is not intended to do so now. I only wanted to share with you another success story of FMCA members’ involvement.
One important note: FMCA does not retain any of the donated funds to cover its own administrative costs. One hundred percent of the money goes to the designated charity or charities.
In conclusion, here’s a brief look at each of the four organizations that FMCA members are helping through the “Round Up” campaigns:
ProLiteracy Worldwide is a nonprofit international literacy organization based in Syracuse, New York, that was formed by the 2002 merger of Laubach Literacy International and Literacy Volunteers of America Inc. ProLiteracy Worldwide is the oldest and largest nongovernmental literacy organization in the world. The organization’s International Programs Division continues work that began more than 70 years ago and now reaches to 48 developing countries around the world. In the United States, the ProLiteracy America program works in all 50 states and the District of Columbia through 1,200 local affiliates.
A 1993 National Adult Literacy Survey found that between 40 million and 44 million Americans, or one in five adults in the United States, function at the lowest literacy level. (A new survey is scheduled for release in 2005.) Having poor or no reading skills negatively affects the children of these adults; prevents adults from understanding doctors’ health care instructions; and costs Americans and American businesses billions of dollars each year in lost wages, profits, and productivity.
Donations to ProLiteracy Worldwide help to pay for a variety of programs. For more information about ProLiteracy Worldwide, visit www.proliteracy.org, e-mail [email protected], or phone (888) 528-2224 or (315) 422-9121.
The National Center on Family Homelessness, formerly called the Better Homes Fund, is geared toward easing the plight of homeless families. Based in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, the organization works closely with shelters, children and families, service providers, researchers, advocates, and policymakers to develop immediate and long-term services and solutions to the problem of family homelessness in the United States. Its reports, articles, and testimony before Congress inform policymakers about how homelessness affects society.
On any given day in the United States, 800,000 people are homeless, including 200,000 children in homeless families. The center offers training sessions at homeless shelters around the country to give homeless children and parents information and assistance regarding their health; nutrition; trauma and stress; and parenting.
For more information about the National Center on Family Homelessness, contact www.familyhomelessness.org; e-mail [email protected]; phone (800) 962-4676, ext. 10, or (617) 964-3834, ext. 10.
Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit ecumenical Christian housing ministry. HFHI seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness around the world. It works with people of all backgrounds, races, and religions as it builds houses in partnership with families in need. Habitat is now building homes in more than half the countries of the world and recently reached a goal of working in 100 countries. So far HFHI has built 50,000 homes in the United States alone and will build its 200,000th home worldwide by the end of 2005.
Founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller, HFHI works through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials. Home recipients are involved in the process of building their own home and those of others, and pay a down payment as well as monthly mortgage payments on a no-interest loan. Home recipients are chosen based on level of need, willingness to become partners in the program, and ability to repay the loan “” not on race or religious affiliation.
For more information about Habitat for Humanity International, visit www.habitat.org or phone (800) HABITAT (422-4828); (229) 924-6935.
Good Will-Hinckley Homes for Boys and Girls was founded in 1889 by the Reverend George Walter Hinckley. Today the organization provides a home and helping hand to 150 at-risk children, ranging in age from 11 to 21, who are unable to live at home. They may have been in situations involving physical, mental, or sexual abuse; their parents may be ill or involved in substance abuse and unable to take care of them; or, their parents may no longer be living.
The facility’s 2,450-acre campus includes more than a dozen residential homes; a library; accredited schools; recreational facilities; a nondenominational chapel; a working farm; and a museum.
FMCA was founded on the grounds of the school in July 1963. A stone marker and walkway commemorating the association are located on the grounds today.
For more information about Good Will-Hinckley Homes for Boys and Girls, visit www.gwh.org, e-mail [email protected], or phone (207) 238-4000.