Have you heard of the Florida-based supermarket chain known as Publix? Founded in 1930, Publix is recognized by loyal shoppers and its competition as one of the best-run retailers in the nation. George Jenkins was its rags-to-riches founder and acquired, innovated, and mentored his way to create a $9 billion dollar grocery behemoth. Jenkins introduced wide aisles, automatic door openers, air conditioning and brightly-lit merchandise to the industry and benefited greatly because of it.
But George’s greatest accomplishments were the charitable activities in his community. For more than 60 years, his foundation has focused its attention on Special Olympics, March of Dimes, Children’s Miracle Network and others. Last year alone, Publix and its employees donated more than $61 million to The United Way.
Late in his life, a reporter questioned George about how much he'd be worth if he hadn't given away so much. Without a moment’s hesitation, Jenkins responded bluntly: "Probably nothing."
The late Henry Trione, a small-town baker’s son who amassed tremendous wealth and influence during his lifetime had a similar attitude. Trione made a sizeable impact in the North Bay, and many of his millions were donated anonymously. During an interview with a reporter, Henry was also asked why he gave so much away. His response was even better than George’s had been. “Why? Because there are no luggage racks on a hearse!” quipped Trione.
We fulfill and enrich ourselves through our charitable acts. And the more success we personally enjoy affords us greater opportunities to give, thus making us richer still. It's a great cycle of events and while not uniquely American, our annual charitable contributions outpace those of the rest of the free world. The Giving USA Annual Report on Philanthropy shows that individuals, estates, foundations and corporations in the U.S. gave more than $390 billion to charities in 2016. (That’s billions with a “b!”)
At NorthBay biz, we celebrate these traditions with our annual "Business & Nonprofits" edition. Our modern-day George Jenkins and Henry Triones live on through the efforts of Bruce Katz of Marin’s Samuel Hubbard Shoe Company, Rachel Ginis of Lilypad Homes, and David Stare of Global Partners for Development. We showcase their achievements in activating their business skills, personal charm and leadership skills to help others.
On the following pages, you’ll learn how these business leaders turned their concern for others into a lifelong, special crusade. Bruce spotlights homeless dogs in his Samuel Hubbard catalogue to help them find new owners. Rachel has devised imaginative shelters that allow the homeless a warm place to stay. And David has flipped an age-old, biblical phrase and is now turning “wine into water” for African villagers who can’t easily access drinking water.
I hope you find their stories as inspiring as I did. Why not select those ideas that most directly address your own concerns for the less fortunate in your community? Pick a few, dedicate time and resources to be as generous as you can be. The marriage of business and charity is a winning collaboration.
And speaking of collaboration, I am truly enjoying working with many of you on new and exciting ideas for NorthBay biz. I’ve received many great ideas from readers and ask you to keep ’em coming. Drop me a line at Lawrence@NorthBaybiz.com. Thanks!
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Located at 1410 Neotomas Ave. in Santa Rosa,NorthBay biz magazine is a monthly business-to-business publication covering Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties. This year, the magazine is celebrating 43 years of continuous operation. It originally hit the stands in 1975, when it was called Sonoma Business, and only covered Sonoma County. Norm and Joni Rosinski and John Dennis, acquired it in 2000 and changed its name to cover an expanded market. Today, the magazine is part of Amaturo Sonoma Media Group. More here..