Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Philanthropy doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with money.

A duo of university alumni -- Deborah “Debbie” and Tom Veale – shared that message with students and the college community at large on Thursday as part of Phil’s Day, a university-wide celebration of philanthropy.

“Your time is just as valuable as writing checks,” said Debbie Veale, ’81 BSPh. She met her husband, ’80 BBA, at the university. They have a joint enthusiasm for giving back.

Tom said that of the three ways to give – through time, talent, and treasure – “money’s the easy one.”

Students often don’t have much money to give, the Veales said. They can relate. After graduating, the  couple moved to California and furnished their living space with a free couch and lawn chairs. One day, Debbie opened a letter soliciting donations. It was an impossible request.

“Give me five years and I’ll consider it,” Debbie remembered thinking. She and Tom decided when they had money one day, they wouldn’t hoard it.

The couple soon began volunteering in a Mexican orphanage once a month. When Tom founded TRISTAR Risk Management, an insurance services firm, philanthropy was an expectation. As the company grew, Tom and TRISTAR increased donations to the orphanage. About ten years after graduating from the college, Debbie donated $1,000 to honor a former classmate who had passed away. Giving felt good.

The couple has come a long way since the days of secondhand furniture, but giving has remained a priority. Last year, William Doucette, PhD, became the second endowed professor in the history of the college thanks to the major gift that established the Deborah K. Veale Professorship in Healthcare Policy. It was named after Debbie in conjunction with the couple’s 25th wedding anniversary.

On Thursday, students paused between classes to write postcards thanking major donors for their contributions.

“Your support is greatly appreciated!” wrote a Class of 2015 student. “I can only dream of being as dedicated as you to the College of Pharmacy in the future!”