Paying tribute to our leading change-makers.
Members of the Tocqueville Society go above and beyond in their support for United Way’s work in the community. Their gifts and engagement are responsible for affecting positive, lasting change in the lives of people in need, all across the region. Join us in acknowledging their impact!
Jan Cooper, 2016 Community Excellence Award Winner
Currently serving on the Board of Directors of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, Jan has been a loyal United Way advocate, contributor and volunteer for thirty years. Jan played an important role in the founding of the Women’s Initiative, now known as Women United. She and her husband, Ray Marcinowski, recently pledged to underwrite the Innovating with Families Challenge grants.
Thomas L.P. O’Donnell, 2016 Legacy of Loyalty Award Winner
Tom is a long standing United Way advocate and Tocqueville-level donor. As a member of the Board of Directors, the Audit Committee, and the Compensation Committee, Tom has been a steady and respected leader. He has lent his organizational creativity and good will as the driver of the Millennium Fund, the Alexis De Tocqueville Cabinet, the Planned Giving Committee, and the Legal Advisory Council.
Tom O’Donnell’s Remarks from the 2016 Tocqueville Celebration
Thank you so much, Mike, for your gracious and generous remarks. You are a wonderful leader of our United Way and I am proud to express my great admiration and support for you and for all the good you do for our community. I am essentially a United Way lifer, so I would like to recall my early experiences in this great and enduring cause. I first became fully aware of the annual campaign when I joined Ropes & Gray in 1949, fresh out of Harvard Law School. One of the firm’s partners I most wanted to meet was Ed Hanify, a renowned trial lawyer. I soon learned that he was rarely in the office at that time because he was chairing the Red Feather Campaign, as it was then called.
In the early 1960’s I was recruited by my partner, Elliot Richardson, to be a regional coordinator for the United Fund Campaign, of which he was serving as chairman. The next year I became chairman of the Metropolitan Department of the campaign, which involved recruiting and coordinating a vast army of volunteers to conduct a house-to-house drive in every community in greater Boston. We were supported – and gently prodded – by a very large professional staff at the Somerset Street headquarters. At the end of that campaign our success was celebrated by an enormous lighting display of the letters UF shining from the new Prudential Tower which was then nearing completion. I was invited to join the United Way board in 1987 and have served in a variety of volunteer roles since then.
We are hearing a lot about race and diverse cultures in the current seemingly endless political campaign. Unfortunately, much of what we hear is divisive and even hateful. So I would like to share some thoughts on our diversity and common values. The diverse cultures in our society should enrich us and not divide us. They should not be hemmed in by walls of separation but rather connected by avenues of discourse. The truth is that no one’s culture is an exclusive possession. It is available to all who will learn and appreciate its distinctive value. Irish culture is an obvious part of my heritage. But I believe that black culture is also an essential part of my heritage as an American. Hispanic culture is part of the background of two of my grandchildren and thus contributes to our family life. And Jewish culture is, or course, at the root of my heritage as a Christian.
Yet transcending diversity of cultures is that unity of humankind in which we are all children of God. That, of course, is a central teaching of all our religious traditions. I do believe that the United Way, perhaps more than any other institution, is a place where diverse cultures come together to help the whole community – to serve the common good. It is the most embracing, the most inclusive of our charitable endeavors.
Every day the United Way is a witness in the community to the ideals of diversity and mutual understanding. The United Way knits together the very fabric of our community. It is a crucial mediating institution that enables us to help others in an enormously complex society. Yet like all institutions, the United Way comes down to the individuals who take part, lead and support it. Thus, the United Way calls upon the consciences of all of us.
A poet has said: I am a part of everyone I meet. By the same token, everyone I meet is a part of me. I am connected to my sisters and brothers, whoever or wherever they may be. That is to me the meaning and the message of why we are here tonight.