Dear ZFF Supporters,
Ten years ago we started The Zukowski Family Foundation with the guideline that we would focus on building lasting relationships. What continues to set our foundation apart is our involvement in understanding not only the “who’s,” but also the “why’s” and the “how’s.” Donations made to ZFF are not just checks; they are investments in the relationships that we continue to build in order to learn and share best practices from top tiered non-profit organizations that help create positive change in communities.
ZFF is centered on providing support to children in the United States in addition to our own customized programs and partnering with other charitable organizations that match our mission and vision. Whether the children are in need of guidance in advancing their educational endeavors, or are in need of everyday basics, such as food, clothing, shelter, and school supplies, our foundation strives to fill the gap and meet those needs. I cannot emphasize enough the impact that our growing relationships have had on our successes.
With this year’s 10th Anniversary fund raising request we thought it seemed appropriate to share with you where we are with some of the key relationships that we have been cultivating over the past decade.
We will start with our educational scholarship program, which has helped support more than 30 students reach their goals to pursue higher education opportunities since our inception in 2008. I am proud to say that even after recipients receive their scholarships, our network of scholars continues to engage not only with our foundation, but also with one another. Many continue their involvement through our mentorship and internship programs by sharing their experiences and knowledge. This provides our students an avenue to support others that are where they once were. We are very pleased about the roots that have started to take hold in this area and look forward to the future evolution of our flagship scholarship program.
We also recognized that great teachers make sacrifices for the success of their students often at their own personal expense. For this reason, we started and continue to award the Leon T. Banas Outstanding Educator Award. This monetary annual award allows the recognized teacher to allocate the funding that will best directly impact their students in the classroom.
In 2009, we expanded our reach to partner with The Charity Cycling Committee, one of our longest standing relationships. Charity Cycling focuses on charitable fundraising primarily in the northeast to support local community non-profits, including Special Olympics, The Connecticut Children’s Hospital, The Make a Wish Foundation, The National Federation of the Blind Children’s Camp and several regional educational programs to mention a few. The CCC has been a wonderful discussion partner during our formative years and nine years later, we are still proud to be their top-tier sponsor.
In 2011, The Charity Cycling Committee formally introduced George Reed, a ZFF board member, to Paul Newman’s The Hole-In-The-Wall Gang. They operate on the premise that every child, no matter their illness, should experience the transformative wonder and spirit of childhood. Through the nostalgic theme of summer camp, they provide a childhood experience for children with critical blood disorders and diseases; most of the children they reach will not spend anytime outside the hospital compound in which they are being treated. They have been one of our best discussion partners regarding our charitable endeavors as they offer perspective and demonstrate the power of positivity and attitude.
This past October our President, Tom Banas, George Reed, and I had an opportunity to visit their 300+ acre campground in Ashford, CT. What a beautiful day it was as they were gearing up to receive 25 families for an extended stay weekend. They will have reached more than 1,000 children by the end of 2018. One of their mantras is: “Never stop climbing.” Not only does this serve as an inspirational piece of motivation to their campers, but it also inspires me to continue to push the status quo and work to improve the lives of those around me. The amount of new ideas, programs and capabilities that this organization not only supports, but also inspires, is truly amazing. Most recently, they have expanded their facilities to house the doctors and their families while volunteering at camp to ensure that the campers are able to receive the treatments they need; they have broadened their operations to support those campers in need of around-the-clock treatment, as well as opened up an extended week of camp for healthy siblings to join their brothers and sisters. While all of this is truly changing the lives of children, I almost forgot to mention my favorite part: they have one of the world’s largest wheelchair accessible tree-forts where you can overlook the entire grounds and truly believe to never stop climbing.
While Cheryl and I were living in the Baltimore area, the foundation cultivated relationships with both The Ronald McDonald House of Baltimore and the Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital. If you are not already familiar with these two nationally recognized organizations, I strongly encourage you to look at how they are impacting your local community. These are longstanding, well knownorganizations which we enjoy spending time with each year. Stay-tuned as the new Baltimore RMH nears its completion this fall with upgraded features, such as indoor parking to ensure families minimize their exposure to the elements while receiving treatment. This new state of the art facility should really make a difference in the communities and areas in which they serve.
As always, we cannot say enough about the Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital. They continue to make life-changing discoveries every year and the work that they do will truly save and change lives for future generations.
One of our newest programs is the Fuel Program in Terryville, CT, (my home town), which started in 2015 and strives to support those families not able to stay warm throughout the long winter months. We partnered with the Plymouth Rotary Group to help jumpstart their fuel program. The northeast consumes 80% of all heating oil in the United States during the winter months. The Fuel Program provides fuel to families who are in need of warmth. In our first year of partnership in 2015, ZFF was able to contribute roughly 35% of the funds used to support the Fuel Program. We are proud that this relationship will continue to grow and will put us in a key area that we were not able to reach before. A thank you should be given to the Plymouth Rotary Group for creating this program.
Lastly, our newest relationship started this year with the Plymouth Food Pantry. This is a new relationship that we started exploring last year. With this new relationship we will be able to consolidate our existing ZFF programs that focused on providing sustenance to families primarily during the months of November and December and came under our ZFF program “From Our Family to Your Family”. This new program has the potential to reach and deliver food to a broader and deeper base while touching most, if not all the families we had previously identified… with the additional benefit of being able to make thisa yearlong program versus our previous program centered around two key holidays. Truly a win, win for everyone. We are happy to report that we were able to jumpstart our relationship by picking up the November and December food costs for the pantry. I believe this is an area that will continue to grow as a part of who we are and what we do. I look forward to learning more and growing this relationship.
I can go on forever writing and speaking about each relationship and what it has meant to us in structuring, learning, and growing as a charitable organization. I hope this gives you a better sense of our road map to date, some of our guiding principles, and how we have spent our resources of both time and money over this past decade.
I would like to thank our Board members and all our volunteers for making this a productive year. Without you we would not be able to find, grow and maintain all the relationships we have fostered over this past decade. Your coordination, communications and execution on our day-the-day relationships is what drives our existence… Thank you!
Finally, I hope you find value in what we are doing and will help by joining with a contribution. I know everyone has multiple charities and commitments that you focus on throughout the year, however I would ask that you please give consideration in joining our team.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our who’s, why’s and how’s and that you will have the opportunity to lend your support.