Meet a Donor
“You develop your interest in charity and philanthropy by doing it over the years.
It seems the more I do, the more motivated I am to do more.”
— Gene Beckstein
Anne and Gene Beckstein are passionate about giving and have sought creative ways to inspire each member of their family to embrace philanthropy. Through the Beckstein Family Fund at Manatee Community Foundation, they support a broad range of charitable interests including the arts, education, healthcare, human services and the environment. Anne and Gene have seen that as family members mature, their charitable interests do as well and that their choices are as wide-ranging as they are personal. With 20 family members spanning three generations, our community has benefitted from the broad and deep impact of the Beckstein family approach to philanthropy.
The Vita Family
Volunteering with organizations that serve youth of all ages, John lives his belief of “if it’s to be, it’s up to me.”
From working with programs that feed children to coaching football, John’s energetic passion inspires others to get involved and youth to be leaders. John and Tompie have included their children Reese and April in volunteer activities since they were young. As the kids joined family volunteer projects, they became interested in helping others. As they got older, John and Tompie encouraged them to seek out organizations and activities that had personal meaning for them.
For April, family volunteer experiences such as preparing Sunday dinner at the Ronald McDonald House at All Children’s Hospital led her to tell her parents that she “wanted to be the catalyst”, the person who gets things done. It was during Operation Smile that the impact of people coming together ‘clicked’ for April. On the day of the walk, 1,000 people came together and $10,000 was raised to help children afflicted with cleft palates. After that, she began organizing and participating in projects that benefitted her community and school.
Just two years after her father was recognized with the Spirit of Manatee Volunteer Spirit Award, 14-year-old April was honored with the Spirit of Manatee Young Spirit Award for the thousands of hours she has contributed to her community. That same year, her fundraising, volunteerism and service leadership were also recognized by St. Joseph Catholic School with its highest honor, the St. Joseph Spirit Award. When the Vita family drives down 14th street in Bradenton, there are two oak trees, planted by Reese and April as young children on Better Manatee Day. Reese and April can see how their individual small efforts have made a big difference over time. John and Tompie see the seeds that was planted in the hearts of their children.