When her husband passed away fifteen years ago, Jeanne Lawler was faced with a decision regarding which organizations to support from her family’s charitable foundation. She researched the area’s biggest needs, and one really resonated with her – domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is one of the central social issues of our time,” said Jeanne. “It is a scourge that attacks the family, the basic unit of our society. Without strong, stable families as the bedrock of society, it would seem that civilization as we know it will struggle to endure. For me, this was absolutely an essential issue.”
Jeanne decided that if there was something she could do to help, she was going to do it. She also decided that in order to make a big impact, she was going to need to recruit others to join her.
“I started asking friends if they would be interested in joining a committee to support the issue of domestic violence in our community,” said Jeanne. “I asked everyone I knew, from meet-ups at social events to those I saw in the produce section at Wegmans.”
Jeanne’s efforts were successful. Soon those initial recruits were asking their friends to join and the group quickly grew. It soon began hosting an Annual Tea, where members could see each other socially and hear from past grant recipients while making their annual contributions.
A few years ago, the committee established the Domestic Violence Endowment & Support (DoVES) Fund to help fortify the group’s community impact through a permanent charitable endowment. Each year at the DoVES’ gathering, our staff presents research to the committee members about the current needs of local domestic violence organizations. Members vote on which local programs to support each year. Jeanne says the DoVES Fund benefits from the community knowledge of our staff, the consistency of the returns in its large pool of invested assets, and its administrative support.
The DoVES Fund has now expanded to nearly 100 members and hopes to grow even further in the years to come. The group’s collective giving supports current grants, but also builds an endowment fund to ensure that local domestic violence programs are supported in perpetuity. Jeanne says members are motivated to be a part of the DoVES giving circle because they understand the seriousness of this issue and the tremendous effect their giving can have on a family.
“People go through these terrible experiences and become so horribly scarred that it can affect them for the rest of their lives,” she said. “This is something that is so important that we really have got to look at it in the eye, and try to do whatever we can to help in our small way.”