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Shapiros receive Wayne Community Foundation's Friend of Philanthropy award

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October 10, 2018

WOOSTER — When Steve Shapiro married, he promised his bride they would spend just one year living in his hometown of Wooster.

After that, he promised Cheryl Shapiro, they’d head off for the big city.

The big city’s loss has, for the past 50 years, been Wayne County’s gain.

Steve and Cheryl Shapiro were honored Wednesday night with the Wayne County Community Foundation’s Friend of Philanthropy Award, which was established six years ago by the foundation’s board to honor those who have made a significant contribution to the community through their time, talent and resources.

Previous recipients have been Stan and Flo Gault, the J.M. Smucker family, Greg and Kathy Long, Barry Romich and the Donald and Alice Noble Family. The Shapiros, said foundation executive director Sara Patton, “are worthy successors in every way of those who have gone before.”

It was David Noble of the Noble family who introduced the Shapiros to the 460 guests gathered in the Lowry Student Center at The College of Wooster for the WCCF’s annual dinner.

Although Noble and the Shapiros come from different religious traditions, “all of the religious faith traditions have the same fundamental teaching — be kind,” Noble said. “There are no kinder people on this planet than Cheryl and Steve. They are being honored tonight because they are exemplars of kindness.”

Both Steve and Cheryl Shapiro were influenced on their path to philanthropy by their parents and also by their Jewish faith, including being taught the importance of “tzedakah” — justice or righteousness that is tied to charitable giving — a moral obligation to do what is right and just.

“To me, philanthropy is not just about giving money or other assets, but about giving time to help others,” Steve Shapiro said. “One concept has always resonated with me and was an important theme in the movie ‘Schindler’s List’: ‘He who saves the world of one man saves the world entire.’”

The Shapiros have served on the board of The Village Network, where their most recent creation was a Center for Expressive Arts that bears their name. Steve Shapiro also has been a member of Wooster Rotary and has served on the boards of the WCCF, Goodwill Industries, OneEighty and Wayne Economic Development Council.

The Shapiros also introduced the Embracing Our Differences program and were significant supporters of a local effort to rebuild a fishing village in India that had been destroyed by the 2004 tsunami.

And on Wednesday, the Shapiros announced the creation of a Children's Fund at the WCCF.

"The purpose of this fund will be to partner with local nonprofits to help remove barriers which underprivileged children face in leading meaningful and productive lives," Steve Shapiro said. "These barriers may include poverty, drug use, bullying, discrimination, learning disabilities, low self-esteem or a challenging home life."

Local nonprofits soon will be notified about making grant proposals to the fund.

"Steve and I are grateful for the examples of so many local leaders and have tried to follow in the footsteps of all those who were ahead of us," Cheryl Shapiro said. "We have grown so much over our nearly 50 years in Wooster. ... I have felt fortunate to be a part of this small town and to be able to instill these values into our children, who grew up witnessing the philanthropy of family, friends and community members volunteering their time, serving on boards and helping the amazing agencies that support our county."

The WCCF will make a $1,000 donation to a charity of the winner's choice, Patton announced - in this case, the Boys and Girls Club of Wooster.

This is the 40th anniversary of the WCCF, which started with a single $1,000 gift and currently has assets of $77 million. Board President Steve Matthew noted that for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2018, the foundation had received a record-breaking total of $14.1 million in gifts.

"Grants of more than $5.7 million were given back to the community, including $575,000 in scholarships awarded to Wayne County residents." Matthew said. "And since 1978, over $72 million in grants and scholarships have been awarded, showing just what you can do when you have $1,000, the determination to improve the quality of life for all and investment strategies designed to produce steady growth over the long term."

And for those interested in philanthropy, Steve Shapiro offered words of advice he and his wife received from their parents: “Don’t wait until you’ve died to leave your money to your favorite charity or cause,” he said. “Instead, if you have the ability, give while you are alive, so you can enjoy seeing your contributions at work.”

Reporter Tami Mosser can be reached at 330-287-1655 or tmosser@the-daily-record.com.

 

2018 WCCF Annual Dinner Pictures

The Daily Record Article

 

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Shapiros receive Wayne Community Foundation's Friend of Philanthropy award
Steve and Cheryl Shapiro were honored Wednesday night (Oct. 10, 2018) with the WCCF's Friend of Philanthropy Award....read more
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Through a bequest, Lillian Steiner, a volunteer and past WCCF Board member, established the Lillian Steiner Community Fund to further the work of the Foundation well into the future.

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