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The object of dR’s regular BACKPAGE column (so named because it always lands on the final page of each issue) is to provide a “focus on philanthropy” for the Tampa Bay area. Now, in the column’s second year, we have found a number of benefactors whose generosity and leadership have positively affected the community in many ways. Keep in mind that it is our intention not only to recognize individuals and organizations for their generosity, but also to inspire others in the community to do their part in supporting our neighborhood.

A long time ago, I asked a true professional in the gift-giving business, “How much should I give?” She replied, “Give till it hurts.” I’ve always interpreted that to mean: Think about how much you can give, then consider how much more you could do and give a little bit more. If everyone did this, then the impact of philanthropy would grow by 10 times, and of course your personal contribution of time and effort will make your gift give even more.

When it comes to impact, there are few who can match time and effort with Julie and Steve Weintraub and their Hands Across The Bay foundation. We noted last February that their Dancing With The Stars Tampa Bay event was one of the premier philanthropic occasions of the year. They also constantly reach out to help those in need with “back to school” assistance, and with their Gold And Diamond Source Christmas Party, which features carloads of gifts and cars for needy families. They sponsor and participate in many more events and activities throughout the year. Their schedule has them busy helping others all year long.

In our March/April issue, we focused on WEDU and the BE MORE AWARDS. This celebration of giving honors dozens of small, medium and large philanthropic efforts and their community leadership. The WEDU judges have a difficult task of choosing an annual winner. However, it is fair to say they are all winners. And so is WEDU for working every day to provide everything from PBS national content to informative local programs featuring our military servicemen and women to educational content for teachers and students to programs for Life-Long Learning opportunities — and last but not least, endless hours of children’s programs.

This past spring, we were both pleased and challenged to try and feature a glimpse of the philanthropic leadership of Dr. Kiran and Dr. Pallavi Patel. It would take volumes to adequately describe the impact of Dr. K’s and Dr. P’s generosity. They have not only touched the lives of the needy in the Tampa Bay area but also around the world, including India and Zambia. The establishment of the new Doctor Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine in Clearwater will educate hundreds of future healthcare providers and is a sure way to have a gift multiply 10 times……. at least.

Over the summer, our special “A to Z” Luxury Lifestyle Issue featured Gene and Patsy McNichols. They’ve reached out to many in our area. Chief amongst their beneficiaries has been Tampa General Hospital, where their leadership led them to chair the Alice in Wonderland, Mad about TGH Gala, which helped provide better resources and support to the healthcare of all of our neighbors. Gene and Patsy’s faith has also led them to support Our Savior Lutheran Church and School and Joshua House. The University of Tampa also is a large part of Gene and Patsy’s generosity and commitment to education.

Our last BACK PAGE column of the year presented the Lightning Community Heroes Program, which has donated over $16.25 million to various community organizations. Penny and Jeff Vinik have personally funded the program, which recognizes young and old community leaders with the gift of $50,000 at every Tampa Bay Lightning home game. There is no one specific definition of what makes a Lightning Community Hero or a Lightning Community Hero of Tomorrow other than they are all individuals and organizations simply following their desire to help others who are less fortunate.

All of these philanthropists and many others have positively impacted our community in may more ways than we have space to list. It is important at this time of year for each of us to follow these philanthropic leaders’ example and make our own gift to help those less fortunate. Your gift, no matter how large or small, and your commitment to help those in need will enrich your life because you have shared your time and money with others in need.

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