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5 Questions with Stu: John Hollis, Founder of the MERIT Program Operating Fund at the DCF

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John and Linda Hollis at Hollis Park, at the Western Sussex Boys and Girls Club.

What more can we say about John Hollis? If you’ve been involved in community life in Delaware, you already know him, especially if you live in Sussex County, but truly, not only there. John has earned the respect of elected officials, community leaders, philanthropists, the religious community, and so many more.  John is a man of passion, faith and caring…a man who has helped hundreds of young people over dozens of years. His Minority Engineering Regional Incentive Training (MERIT) program has become of the state’s most successful post-secondary prep programs. Starting in 1974, the program has trained a stunning cadre of minority leaders in science and engineering.  His work for the Delaware Community Foundation was formative in strengthening the then-fledgling southern Delaware DCF office. His work in Dover, supporting causes that help strengthen our communities, is well known.  And overall, he’s just a decent and kind man.  Here are some of his thoughts on philanthropy.

Why is philanthropy important to you?
Philanthropy is the reason we are here! Opportunities present themselves in many forms. I like to recall what Johnny Janosik said when we started his fund at the DCF, “If you want to be happy for a day – take a nap. Happy for a week -take a vacation. But to be happy for life – help someone else.”

What first motivated you to get involved in philanthropy?
Being a school administrator and coach, I was asked to lead an effort to build a Boys & Girls Club in Western Sussex. The images of what that facility would provide to our youth was an inspiration that conjured up more than I ever dreamed.

What are the greatest factors influencing your decisions when you consider opportunities you could support?
Our young people and their many challenges and needs, which then expanded to family needs. We are a community and must strive to find the means and ways to make everyone within our community prosper.

What community endeavors are you proudest to support or engage in?
Boys & Girls Club
Points of Lights Mentoring
Home of Hope with Bonnie Wood and many generous supporters
MERIT for 4 plus decades
Chamber Legacy Award
John H. Taylor Leadership in Education Award

Where do you see the greatest potential for philanthropy to drive change in Delaware?
Our “Delaware First Spirit,” our interpersonal connection, the openness of accessibility of our government highlighted by Sussex County Council, our Lt. Governor and Governor, the General Assembly.