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Love of Place: Furthering A Legacy of Caring

Joe Horan, executive director of the Building Men program, fondly recalls working alongside Dave Kilpatrick while interfacing with the Community Foundation.

“Dave was a good listener,” said Horan. “He would hear me out as I relayed my off-the-wall ideas for what I wanted to do. He was always there to encourage me and help me make Building Men better.” 

Dave was a valued staff member of the Community Foundation for seven years before his passing in 2017. During his tenure, he worked his way up to Program Officer for Community Grantmaking. His parents established the David Kilpatrick Memorial Fund in his memory to support human service work in the Central New York region.

The fund awarded its first-ever grant this year to Building Men to help expand its Syracuse City School District programming, once limited to middle school, into high school so that participants can continue their journey for the final four years of their schooling.

“David took interest in many organizations but he was especially passionate about Building Men and its mission,” said Dave’s mother, Mary Kilpatrick. “He’d be so pleased to see that the fund is continuing to enrich the nonprofit community of Central New York.”

Building Men supports young men living in Syracuse through their journey towards becoming what it defines as ‘men of character’. Many of the them grow up around violence and live in poverty. The program focuses on developing their purposes and passions, instilling integrity in leadership and building healthy relationships. 

Horan’s program focuses on two primary goals — high school completion and character and value development.

“Once our young men achieve their high school diploma, they know they have the tools they need to further their education and become contributing members of the community,” said Horan. “By extending the program, we can now help them navigate their high school experience and prepare them for life beyond school.”

For Rawri Da, a sophomore at Nottingham High School, the program has been a constant presence in his life since sixth grade.

“I didn’t focus on my grades before joining the program,” said Da. “I wasn’t paying attention and always skipped classes. Now, I try to lead by example — with integrity — and value important relationships with my friends and family.”

The boys in the Building Men program participate in community service projects, mentoring events, dinners and seminar workshops to learn how to value and build positive relationships and set goals for themselves.

Thinking back to Dave Kilpatrick’s commitment to helping nonprofits shine, Horan feels pleased with where his organization is heading.

“It is vital that a young man feel that he belongs and has a reason to be connected to education. We can provide that opportunity,” said Horan. “I really think Dave would be proud of us.”