The winner of the Invest in Others 2020 Community Service Award is Duane Chaney, a financial adviser with Arch Capital Advisory Group of Raymond James, for his work supporting the Lee Health Foundation, which promotes health and healing in southwest Florida.
“Duane Chaney is a perfect example of how you can follow your passions to make a difference. By drawing on his affinity for tennis and enthusiasm to help children like his niece, Madisen, Duane has been a force of nature in raising funds for the Lee Health Foundation,” said Megan McAuley, executive director of the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation.
“The continuous growth of Madisen’s Match over the past 12 years is a testament to Duane’s leadership and dedication to this cause,” McAuley said.
The foundation announced Chaney as the winner with a video presentation released on Tuesday. The live celebration of the group’s 14th annual awards in Boston was canceled earlier this year due to the pandemic. Winners of the other categories will be released similarly later in the week.
The two finalists in this category were David Tornetto of Nexstep Financial Group for Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis and Lisa Policare of Penn Wealth Planning for Lenape Valley Foundation.
Each of the finalists will receive $15,000 for their charities and Chaney will receive $45,000 for Lee Health Foundation.
Profiles written by Deborah Nason about the philanthropic efforts of Chaney, Tornetto and Policare follow.
When his 3-year-old niece was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in 2008, Duane Chaney and his extended family felt traumatized. Reeling from pent-up emotion, he decided to channel those feelings into raising funds for pediatric cancer.
An avid tennis player, Chaney, a financial adviser with Raymond James in Fort Myers, Florida, decided to host a charity tennis clinic and auction, naming it Madisen’s Match in honor of his niece, who is now 15. Over the past 11 years, the annual matches have grown to include a gala and sold-out arena exhibitions with tennis stars, and they’ve raised more than $1.3 million. All proceeds support the Lee Health Foundation’s pediatric cancer fund to cover treatment for uninsured and underinsured patients, fund new facilities and buy new equipment.
What has Chaney learned from this journey? “It’s better to look to give than what you can get out of life. I feel like I’ve been blessed … to motivate a lot of others to give back, to bring more positivity to the world,” he said. “You have a choice in life — you can cower to fear and negativity or you can turn the situation into a positive. We’ve been able to help hundreds of kids.”
What keeps a person volunteering with an organization for 22 years? “It’s the people you meet who are so generous with their time,” said David Tornetto, financial adviser with Nexstep Financial Group in Clayton, Missouri, and long-time volunteer for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis. The charity, with 1,500 volunteers, serves about 700 families per year, providing lodging and support to families of seriously ill children. Some families need to stay for years.
Over the years, Tornetto has served on the board and numerous committees, spearheading legacy and major gift initiatives that have raised millions for the charity. Most volunteers stay on for many years, and board members have adopted a saying from an Eagles song, he said: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”
Tornetto believes a major reason for the organization’s success in retaining volunteers and fundraising is its culture of kindness and friendship, fostered by its long-serving executive director. “It’s very unusual in charitable organizations — to see the number of people who have become friends of mine,” he said. “Furthermore, the culture makes me reflect on myself: ‘Am I doing enough?’ It’s made me a better person.”
The job of mental health services is to help families feel empowered, said Lisa Policare, partner with Penn Wealth Planning in New Hope, Pennsylvania. She is a long-time volunteer and current board president of the Lenape Valley Foundation, which provides comprehensive services to individuals experiencing mental health or intellectual and developmental challenges. Policare credits the organization with changing her life through the services it’s provided her son with intellectual disabilities, including speech therapy, job training and independent living support. Just identifying and coordinating his care was overwhelming at first.
“As a mom, I had all the pieces of the puzzle and I didn’t know how to put them together. Lenape helped me solve the puzzle,” she said. “It’s like several agencies under one roof. They provide very personalized services, not a cookie-cutter approach.”
Additionally, the nonprofit is the No. 1 provider of crisis services in the county. The demand has spiked tremendously with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Policare said. “Thankfully, there is less stigma now around mental health services, especially among the younger generation, who are more open about getting help.”
Deborah Nason is a freelance writer.
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