Our tag line for The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida is Giving Back…Giving Forward. And while I embraced the concept when Wingard Creative pitched it to us, I never fully felt the impact of this simple statement until recently.
My father, Joseph Zuccaro, passed away last month. During his final hours, his children and grandchildren sat together, sharing our favorite stories about him. I documented them in preparation for writing an obituary and a eulogy fitting for a man who was bigger than life.
In the following days, we learned even more about our father from friends, neighbors and customers. We learned about his quiet tradition of giving back and giving forward throughout his life. He mentored dozens of teenagers who worked at the family grocery store. Now in their 40’s and 50’s, many told us that working in his store profoundly shaped their personal and professional lives. We learned that Dad regularly had groceries delivered and put away for home-bound elderly customers. He personally checked on them when contacted by their worried out of town children. We heard story after story, many of them new to us as our father was proud and extremely humble.
When we think about Giving Back…Giving Forward, we often think about financial gifts, which truly do make a difference. What I knew, but perhaps undervalued, was that giving one’s time is equally as important and perhaps, in certain situations, even more valuable. I never really saw my father as a philanthropist and I doubt that he would have described himself that way. But as I listened to the people who were truly blessed to know him, I realized that his philanthropic gifts were many, and I am rich beyond measure because God chose him to be my Dad.