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Remembering Mort, Helen, and Steve

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Philanthropy comes in many forms. It frequently involves financial giving, and giving of time. But even more, philanthropy – at its root – is about a love of humankind.

In the past few months, Delaware has lost at least three great philanthropists. All of them have touched people – thousands of people – with their leadership, passion, and indeed their love of humankind. Those of us at DCF are not the only ones who mourn their passing. But like others, we also celebrate their lives.

Morton Kimmel is extremely well known to the legal community in Delaware, to Best Buddies Delaware, to people in the local sports scene – and to pretty much anybody involved in a community betterment project in Wilmington. He was a long-time supporter of the DCF Friends campaign, and worked closely with DCF on a project to raise funds to buy vests for the Wilmington police. Moreover, Mort was a genuinely nice man. I personally feel fortunate to have met him in the past year and a half.

Helen Eliason, who passed away in December, has been one of DCF’s stalwart and steady supporters for decades. Those who received her support knew her as passionate about children, about reading, about gardens, and about Wilmington. She was a long-time supporter of innovative projects at the West End Neighborhood House, from support for an urban farm to a software app to aid the track team, to an environmental job training program, educational field trips, and scholarships for summer camp. “We can’t begin to express our gratitude for her support and the incredible legacy she leaves behind,” said Paul Calistro. Nor can we.

CAMP Rehoboth co-founder Steve Elkins was also an important philanthropist. It takes a deep belief in helping others to spend your career eschewing financial largesse in favor of building community. Steve and CAMP Rehoboth co-founder Murray Archibald have, for 25 years, led the charge toward making Rehoboth a welcoming community, and leading the charge for equal rights for the LGBT community. A leader indeed. An activist, sure. But also… a philanthropist.

We sometimes think of philanthropists as only those who have millions to give away. But as these stories remind us, philanthropy indeed comes in many forms.

All of us can be philanthropists in one way or another – by giving money, by giving time, by how we live our lives. Thank you, Mort. Thank you, Helen. Thank you, Steve.