NPD 2018 Honoree Profiles

2018 National Philanthropy Day Honorees

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Left to right Back Row: Bobbi Allen; Nicole Cain; Keith Evans; Linda Braunstein; Ernie DiRenzo; Dennis Lewis, Jr.; Carter Lewis; Lori Sherman

Left to right Front Row: Dr. Rudolph Braydich; Jan Strasfeld; Diane R. Sauer; David Bakalar


2018 Valley Impact Award

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The Association of Fundraising Professionals Mahoning-Shenango Chapter is honored to present the Youngstown Foundation with the Valley Impact Award in recognition of the organization’s 100 year history of raising and providing millions of dollars in philanthropic support to countless organizations which have impacted the lives of thousands of individuals in the Mahoning Valley.     

In 1918, industrial pioneers and philanthropists including John Stambaugh, Philip Wick, Henry Butler, L.A. Manchester and Frank Hitchcock, utilized their financial success to provide for the future needs of our community and to inspire others to do the same.  Because of the philanthropic vision of its founders and the charitable aspirations of hundreds of donors since, The Youngstown Foundation has grown to become the largest community foundation in the region with investments of over $115 million and is recognized by Crain’s as being among the top 10 grant makers in NE Ohio.   

In 2017, the Youngstown Foundation gifted a total of $7.7 million to the community. These gifts represent just a few of the over 400 grants awarded annually from the many funds housed under the Foundation’s umbrella, including the unrestricted, donor advised, restricted, Hine Memorial and special interest funds.

As the Foundation marks its 100 year anniversary in 2018, the organization is continuing its commitment to support the people, projects and nonprofits that are making the Mahoning Valley an even better place to call home. 

The following list is just a sampling of the most recent significant gifts by The Youngstown Foundation:

  • A $3 million grant to the City of Youngstown to support the construction of the downtown amphitheater project, a key initiative that will contribute to the continued revitalization of the downtown area as well as have a tremendous impact on the quality of life for residents of Youngstown and surrounding communities for years to come.
  • The YSTAR program, created six years ago by the Youngstown Foundation, is designed to help Youngstown City School students gain the critical funding needed to make the dream of college a reality. After an initial investment of $3M, today more than $4M is available to provide last dollar scholarships awarded to Youngstown City School students pursuing post secondary education at YSU or Eastern Gateway Community College. Students are eligible to earn up to $6,000 in last dollar scholarships that can be used towards tuition, fees, parking or books.
  • Through the Michael Kusalaba Fund (Donor Advised Fund), a total of $1.68 million was recently awarded to the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County to construct the library system’s new West Side Branch. This grant represented 60% of the dollars required to complete the project. 
  • The Hine Memorial Fund of the Youngstown Foundation, which focus is children with diagnosed disabilities, has made significant grants within the last 12 months including $750,000 for the Walnut Grove Playground project, $500,000 for the Potential Development Program, $500,000 for the Rich Center, and $500,000 to support the expansion of Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley’s Behavioral Health program.
  • Operation Search and Help, another program initiated by the Foundation through the Hine Fund, is a grant-funded program created 40 years ago to provide direct help for children with special needs. The main purpose of the program is to assist families with costs associated with medication, medical equipment, medical supplies, specialized formulas, out of pocket therapy costs and transportation assistance to out of town medical appointments. Over the past ten years more than $3M has been allocated to help local families.

Additionally, through its Support Fund, the Youngstown Foundation provides approved local charities with an opportunity to receive an additional 10% add-on for qualified contributions for their organization and assists donors in maximizing charitable giving to their favorite nonprofits.  Make a gift of $100 or more to your favorite approved nonprofits and the Youngstown Foundation will add an additional 10% to your gift.  It's that simple.  Since its inception, the Youngstown Foundation Support Fund has awarded more than $30M to local agencies and has helped to increase and foster the spirit of philanthropy for thousands of local donors. 

For the past 100 years, the Youngstown Foundation has embraced its responsibility as a leader in the community in identifying issues, convening stakeholders and coordinating resources to promote positive change and impact the lives of the people of the Mahoning Valley and thanks to the vision of its founders, the Youngstown Foundation will continue to significantly impact our Valley in perpetuity. 

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2018 Outstanding Young Philanthropist
Pasco_Pic.jpgRicky & Mackenzie Pasco

In 2008, Ricky Pasco of Hubbard, Ohio was diagnosed with a rare life-threatening disease called Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID). CVID affects about one in 50,000 people and physically mutates the immune system, not allowing it to fight common diseases. Because one is so highly susceptible to infection, even something such as the common cold can be dangerous.

In 2009, Ricky, then 11, received a trip to Disney World from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Along with his younger sister Mackenzie, and parents Kim and Rick, he enjoyed a stay at Kissimmee’s Give Kids the World Village, a community location for families and children with life-threatening diseases. Ricky signed his star with more than 100,000 other children and placed it in the Castle of Miracles. This trip, however, was more than just about a wish. Prior to this magical experience, the Pasco family received the call that Mackenzie also had CVID. Despite this news, they enjoyed their trip and a year later, 7-year-old Mackenzie, had the opportunity to place her own star in the Castle of Miracles alongside her brother’s.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation provided an experience that would impact more than the Pasco family. When they returned home, Ricky and Mackenzie were determined to grant a wish for someone else in their community. The duo started an annual fundraiser called the “Ricky-Mack Give Back” fundraiser, which raises money so that other valley children’s wishes may also come true. In the last nine years, Ricky, Mackenzie and their community have raised over $75,200 for Make-A-Wish Foundation.

This disorder requires plasma-based therapies, so they both receive monthly gamma globulin infusions. They are CSL Plasma ambassadors, traveling across the United States to show personal appreciation for donors who are there contributing. They have also been guest speakers at two national conventions to talk about the importance of plasma donations and to thank donors for saving their lives. It’s important to them that others know how special they are to someone fighting this disease every day.

Although they both continue to endure countless infusions and doctor visits, Ricky and Mackenzie choose to put others first. They created the “Mats of Love Project” in their community, making sleeping mats out of plastic bags for the homeless. The community has stepped in to be involved and they now have huge support in making these mats as a team. Each year they dress up as Santa Claus and his Elf, visiting students at Wilson Elementary School for Christmas. They purchased the costumes on their own and chose to volunteer, making sure every child receives a gift and a picture with Santa to give to their parents. They then make gift bags for all the children at Akron Children’s Hospital because they know all too well what it is like to be in the hospital for the Holidays.

Ricky and Mackenzie live each day helping others. Despite all life has thrown at them, they were given an amazing opportunity to enjoy life and choose to pay it forward. Both Ricky and Mackenzie are often referred to as “heroes” by their parents who are so proud of their selfless acts of kindness and determination to impact those around them. Age certainly shows no boundaries when making a difference in the world.

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2018 Outstanding Corporate Philanthropist

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Carter Lewis and Dennis Lewis, Jr

Started in 1970 by brothers Dennis Lewis Sr. and Carter Lewis, Lewis Construction has been serving the area for 48 years and has long been synonymous with excellence in service, attention to detail and integrity. Dennis Lewis Jr. joined the firm in 1994 and together they set the tone for building a successful business--take care of your customer, especially during times of need, and take no shortcuts when it comes to quality.

Lewis Construction is the Northeast Ohio’s premier full-service reconstruction contractor. They specialize in fire and water damage reconstruction, and can handle any size job.

The Lewis family have built a team of more than 50 dedicated service experts who are highly trained in a variety of trades, with advanced cleaning professionals, painters, craftsmen, and reconstruction specialists ready to assist you, no matter what time of day or night.

Lewis Construction, they never take a day off--your service experts on call 24/7!

Northeast Ohio Adoption Services was established in 1978 by Dennis and Carter’s sister Barbara. The Lewis family has been an ardent supporter of NOAS since the beginning, providing office space and financial support to the fledgling agency.  Dennis Jr. has been on the board of trustees for NOAS since 1995, serving several terms as Chair and is now the Treasurer.

Carter is the chair of the Lewis Roberts Foundation, which was created to support the long-term needs of NOAS.

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2018 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser

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Lori Sherman

Lori Sherman grew up in Greenville, PA, and has always found a way of dedicating herself to the community through volunteer work. She chose to reside locally, starting a family and establishing her own business as a daycare center in Greenville. For 29 years, her home daycare has been a staple in the community and served hundreds of families.

Lori started her fundraising efforts by hosting benefits for local families of soldiers who passed away. She hosted golf outings, planning and raising those funds on her own time. These families would walk away with 100% of the proceeds because Lori was able to negotiate non-monetary donations to cover all other costs. She saw a need and she filled it. 

Lori’s greatest efforts, however, involve the Hempfield Volunteer Fire Department, a township in Greenville. The HVFD Station 94 has been assisting the Greenville Fire Department in its efforts for decades. Those efforts increased nine years ago with the ability to purchase proper equipment – including a new station, all through Lori’s lead in fundraising. Overnight, Lori managed to organize and rally the people and services necessary to support this cause, putting no stress on the station’s operating budget.

Most recently, Station 94’s brush truck needed to be replaced, along with some tools required for smaller fires. Within two months, Lori raised over $30,000 in funding to purchase this vehicle, which has already been used in the field. This truck is able to assist any and all fires if necessary, but mainly keeps the wooded areas (and they have a ton!) safe for its residents. She also helps raise money for the larger trucks when they need serviced.

In total over her service years, Lori has selflessly raised over $347,000 for areas in need. Her only goal has always been to focus on the community, giving back “one dollar at a time.” Lori is special, not only to Greenville or the Hempfield Fire Department, but also to her family. She willingly took responsibility of fostering a young boy and without question she fed him, clothed him and made him her son. She is also the biggest supporter of her oldest son who has dedicated his life to fighting for our country in the United States Air Force. Lori also has five sisters, nieces, nephews, as well as others she considers to be her family within the Fire Department and the countless number of children she has cared for through her daycare center in the last three decades.

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2018 Outstanding Small Business Philanthropist

Diane_Sauer_Pic.jpgBraydich Dental

Dr. Rudy and Dr. Mark Braydich grew up on the Southside of Youngstown.  The oldest and youngest of five boys raised by Rudy and Lillian Braydich.  Rudy graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School and went on to receive his Bachelor of Science from John Carroll University in 1973 and his dental degree from Case Western Reserve University in 1977.  Mark graduated from Cardinal Mooney High School, received his bachelor’s degree from Brown University and received his dental degree from Case Western Reserve in 1992.  Rudy and his wife, Jayne have four children Rudy III, David, Phyllis, and Sarah.  Mark and his wife, Rose have a son Nicholas.

Braydich Dental has been involved in numerous philanthropic events.  In 1999, the brothers were introduced to Smiles for Life, a national organization that promoted whitening people’s teeth at a reduced cost and donating half the proceeds to a local children’s charity and half to the Smiles for Life Foundation.  This inspired the brothers to develop Smiles for Charity in 2006 which operated under the same concept but 100% of the donations went to a locally sponsored charity.  Some of our recipients have been Akron Children’s Hospital of the Mahoning Valley, Rich Center for Autism, Children’s Rehabilitation Center, and Down Syndrome Association of the Valley.  The charity has raised about $250,000 over the years.

In 2010, we became aware of a national program called Dentistry from the Heart.  The event held annually provides free dental care for anyone over 18 years of age.  In our eighth year, the event has become a community project with local businesses pitching in with volunteers, donations, food, and supplies.  They help us keep our 200 plus patients, who are seen on a first come first serve basis, well fed, entertained, and comfortable as they wait for much needed care.  This year we expect to provide over $50,000 in dental care, it is the most rewarding day of the year for our team.

Recognizing a need to help students working to become certified dental assistants, Braydich Dental created the Rudolph J Braydich Sr Scholarship for dental assistant students at the Choffin Career Center. The scholarship is in memory of our father who was an elementary school teacher in The Youngstown School System.  Over $6,000 each year is awarded.

Braydich Dental supports our Hubbard Schools and Community and is willing to help when the need is present. From car washes for the HHS Band, to buying and passing out turkeys at Hubbard’s Food Bank.

Why help others?  Because others have helped us!  Losing our father in 1966 was tough.  But family, neighbors, teachers, coaches, and mentors were “difference makers” in our lives when needs arose.  Now it’s our turn to do the same.
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2018 Outstanding Philanthropist

Diane_Sauer_Pic.jpgDiane R. Sauer

Diane R. Sauer was born and raised in Coldwater, Ohio, and is a graduate of Coldwater High School. She earned a B.S. in Business Administration from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Upon graduation, Sauer took a job as an accounting clerk at Martin Chevrolet in Warren, Ohio, a move that would set her on a successful career path in the retail automotive business. In 1994, Sauer became the dealer and by 2004, she owned the dealership, renaming it Diane Sauer Chevrolet. Today, her son, Matthew, works for the business and daughter, Gretchen, is employed by the Ford Motor Company.

In 2000, Sauer permanently endowed the Diane R. Sauer Undergraduate Scholarship at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business which supports students from Trumbull and Mercer counties (her current home and childhood home, respectively) who are pursuing degrees in non-traditional fields. In 2015, she and her husband opened an endowment fund at the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley for local projects and initiatives. In 2016, they endowed the Kurt and Diane Sauer Scholarship at Youngstown State University.

Diane has been a philanthropist for the majority of her life. She has been an active member of the Rotary Club of Warren since 1988. Her most important civic achievement was spearheading the Rotary River Walk fundraising initiative for the creation of the Warren Community Amphitheatre, launched while she was president. For 20 years, Sauer has been a member of Trumbull 100, a group dedicated to improving the quality of life in Trumbull County and to ensure its bright future, and provided guidance and leadership for the United Way of Trumbull County, serving on the Board of Directors, Campaign Chairman and numerous committees.

Diane has been very supportive of the mission of Catholic Charities and the Diocese of Youngstown, acting as an integral part of the successful Diocesan capital campaign. She established a fund the Diocese of Youngstown (DOY) Foundation to support her local church parish, Blessed Sacrament.

In 2005, she assisted with the Trumbull Memorial capital campaign for a new building, donated to each of our two local hospitals in Trumbull County - Trumbull Memorial (now Trumbull Regional Medical Center) and St. Joseph Warren Hospital.

In addition to those listed above, Diane has provided leadership and/or personal monetary donations to the Children's Rehabilitation Center Foundation, Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp, Forum Health, Warren Education, Cultural and Civic Foundation, Trumbull Memorial Hospital Foundation, Trumbull County Chapter of the American Red Cross, Warren Philharmonic Orchestra, Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.

The work that she has done, and continues to do, inspires us all to be better stewards of our time and resources. She doesn't just give, she gets involved. She has raised the bar when it comes to leadership and making a difference for the causes she is passionate about. She does all of this with grace, humility, a sense of humor, and the recognition that we need to work together to make a difference.

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2018 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraising Group


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Recipes of Youngstown

Nearly 40 years ago the economic downturn in the Youngstown area sent Don and Bobbi Allen to California to raise their 3 small children.  It was always considered temporary, as Youngstown would always be “home”.

Over the years, Bobbi’s mother, Betty, would visit and they would spend hours recreating some of their favorite Youngstown recipes.  The memories Bobbi and Don grew up with brought curious children to the table to listen to the tales of “too much salt”, “not enough sugar”, and to laugh at the adults trying to remember a recipe made from “handfuls of this and a pinch of that”.  Sadly, Betty succumbed to the last of many strokes in January of 2010. 

A few years later, Bobbi joined social media to keep in touch with children, grandchildren, family and friends scattered all over the world.   She thought it might even be a way to get recipes for those Youngstown dishes she remembered so fondly, but had no idea what ingredients to use. 

In April 2013, Bobbi started “Recipes of Youngstown” with 11 relatives and friends reluctantly added as members.   The rules were simple; no internet recipes, just tried and true food made with the love of generations of Youngstown’s proud people.  Membership grew to over 1,000.

 In September of 2013, Bobbi and Don moved back home.   When membership reached close to 2,000 there were too many recipes and memories to search easily, so the idea of a cookbook was tossed around over good food, a little wine and a Facebook page that was flooded with ideas.

Book One was dedicated to replacing the water wheel at Lanterman’s Mill.  Members hoped to raise $5000 to generate interest from the community, and perhaps raise more through donations. To date, the water wheel has been replaced and the proceeds from that book are over $82,000.  

With the success of the first book, membership grew along with more recipes and wonderful memories making a second book necessary.   Mahoning Valley Historical Society needed to fund the catering kitchen at Tyler History Center on Federal Street in Youngstown.  The kitchen is proudly dedicated to the members of “Recipes of Youngstown”.   The Historical Society continues to collect proceeds on Book Two.  It has raised in excess of $70,000.

Book Three is dedicated to the “Recipes of Youngstown Scholarship Fund” at YSU.  The scholarship will help our Youngstown Veterans and is administered by the University.  The Recipe group partnered with MVHS to raise over $20,000 to date.  The goal is $100,000.

“Recipes of Youngstown” now boasts 12,000 members who share memories, recipes and even helpful hints when needed.  They all have a connection with our beloved Youngstown, and even though they are scattered all over the world, they are one family, dedicated to keeping alive sweet memories of life in Youngstown

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2018 Legacy Award Honorees

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Dr. Thomas D.Y. Fok
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Dr. Maria M. Leung Fok


Dr. Thomas D. Y. Fok and Dr. Maria M. (Leung) Fok were educated in pre-Communist China.  Both were born in Canton, China. She earned her M.D. from National Sun-Yat-Sen University in 1942. Tom received a bachelor degree in Civil Engineering from National Tung-Chi University in 1945.  In 1947, as Mao Tse-tung’s Communist revolution strengthened in China, Tom and Maria made the life-changing decision to leave their families and homeland.  They met on a Russian freighter boat as they fled the Red Army takeover, the trip was 40 days long.

After coming to the United States, they continued to pursue their education and respective careers. Tom received his M.S. from the University of Illinois, M.B.A. from New York University, and Ph.D. from Carnegie-Mellon. He accepted the position as Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at Youngstown State University in 1958. During his tenure he was appointed Director of the Computing Center and he received the Walter E. & Caroline H. Watson Foundation Distinguished Professor Award. He was at YSU until 1967 when he formed a partnership business, Moser-Fok Consulting Engineers. In 1976 he became chairman of Thomas Fok and Associates, earning a reputation of excellence in engineering while also authoring numerous articles in professional journals.  In 1984, he was named Outstanding Civil Engineer by the American Society of Civil Engineers. 

Maria was a fellow at Western Reserve University in 1948.  She received her M.S. from George Washington University and was a resident physician at the Jewish Hospital for Chronic Diseases in New York.  From 1954-58, Maria was with the school of public health in Pittsburgh as a resident fellow then associate professor. When the Foks came to the Mahoning Valley, she spent one year as an intern at Trumbull Memorial Hospital and then from 1959-2004 she was a resident at Youngstown Hospital Association.  In 1960 she opened her medical office in Austintown, working as a family physician through 2004 and serving three generations of families.  She was proud to help deliver over 100 babies in her career and to have some of her research published professionally.

As they enjoyed success in their fields, they were always very grateful for the freedoms afforded to them in America. They had a deep gratitude to God for everything they were able to achieve in their lives.  They felt an obligation to express this gratitude by generously supporting their church, their community, the political process and other humanitarian causes. They were busy, successful professionals who chose to live very humble lives. They believed the best way to express their appreciation was through philanthropy.

Maria and Tom were members of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.  Besides their generous tithing, they supported special projects, including $100,000 to name the banquet area in the parish center.  Tom served on the Youngstown and Mahoning County Public Library Board from 1973-2009, so in 2002 he and Maria made a major gift to sponsor the meeting room in the Austintown Library. Tom was active in Austintown Rotary and served on the YSU Board of Trustees (chair 1981-83) and the YSU Foundation Board.

After Tom’s death in August 2013, Dr. Fok continued her philanthropy but she began looking for projects that could honor her husband as well as express her appreciation for the community that had been so welcoming and supportive of them. Just before her death in November 2014, Maria made arrangements in her estate to donate $2.5 million to Youngstown State University and $500,000 to the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.  YSU renamed the Alumni House on Wick Avenue Fok Hall and establish the Thomas and Maria Fok Scholarship.  In 2014 MVHS named the main gallery in the Tyler History Center the Drs. Thomas and Maria Fok Exhibit Gallery. Through these commitments, the legacy of the Foks generosity will live on, touching the lives of many for years to come.