Some people struggle with how to define philanthropy. It might be easier just to study Helen Lane, who has been practicing and promoting philanthropy in Jacksonville for decades.
Helen and her late husband Edward connected with The Community Foundation in the 1980’s. Ed, who was chairman of the board of Atlantic National Bank (later Wells Fargo), helped steer The Community Foundation in those early years as a member of the Finance and Grantmaking Committees. Helen followed in Ed’s footsteps, serving on the Board of Trustees from 1999-2006. Ed passed away in 2004, and Helen has continued to work tirelessly in support of the arts and cultural community, the St. Johns River, health resources, and historic preservation.
But it was what Helen and Ed did together nearly twenty years ago that will continue to speak to future generations about their passions: they established permanent endowments for designated nonprofit organizations that they consider vital to our community. The commitment they made in 1997 quietly supports ten charities that were and are close to the couple’s heart. Each year, the Helen and Edward Lane Endowment Funds send a sizeable check to Episcopal Children’s Services, Hubbard House, Salvation Army, I.M. Sulzbacher, United Way, St. Johns Parish, The Cathedral Foundation’s program for the elderly, Daniel Memorial, United Negro College Fund, and Community Connections (formerly the YWCA). And those organizations will continue to get that annual check forever, thanks to the Lane’s vision and foresight.
“We are supposed to help others, and these organizations do the really important work of helping people in need,” Helen reflected. “They know the people and their circumstances, and they are able to make the biggest difference in those lives.”
Helen says she and Ed approached their philanthropy with different agencies in mind, but together they shared a joy of giving. “It gave us great pleasure to be able to help others,” she noted.
Helen isn’t content to rest on her philanthropic laurels. She joined with four other women to create the Women’s Giving Alliance, which will celebrate its 15th anniversary next year, and has also endowed a gift to WGA, so that it can help women and girls in Northeast Florida in perpetuity. And she’s an active member of The Community Foundation’s Donors Forum, where she engages with other community funders to learn about regional programs of philanthropic interest, discuss issues of mutual concern and learn about partner opportunities.
The Community Foundation has helped us discover so many ways that we can give back to our community. They have done the research and the hard work to identify deserving organizations, and that has let us enjoy our giving even more. – Helen Lane