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Giving & Getting Back: Kestra, Lion Street, Prospera

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With the holiday season in full swing, Investment Advisor asked broker-dealers and financial advisors to describe how they have donated time and other resources over their careers. Reading through these vignettes, we have been touched by the generosity of organizations and individuals and impressed by the incredible variety of their non-profit partners.

Here is part 4 of 5 highlighting three of the 14 stories Investment Advisor magazine received from broker-dealers and advisors.

Kestra Financial

An example of the type of water used before a new system is put in place. Many Tanzanians travel up to nine hours a day under dangerous conditions to get this poor-quality water.

Serving communities globally is how John Vanderheyden, executive vice president-head of strategic initiatives at Kestra Financial, volunteers. For 13 years, he has worked with Tanzania Life Project and currently is on its board of directors. The charity raises funds in the United States to build deep water well systems in central Tanzania’s remote villages.

“My parents started this organization after traveling to Tanzania to help restore an inoperable well,” Vanderheyden said. “Tanzania Life Project is the result of them seeing the joy on children’s faces as they experienced clean water for the first time.

“The impact of clean water goes far beyond the reduction of disease and improved physical health,” he explained. “It changes the social and family dynamic by reducing time to fetch water (down from as much as nine hours a day) and allowing more time to be with family, attend school, and/or run a business to generate income. It’s been a privilege to partner with others across the globe to help make clean water a reality and to witness the life-changing results.”

Joe Vartanian and a Now What? member pose with a Greensboro Grasshoppers baseball mascot.

Joe Vartanian, managing partner of Gate City Advisors, says that when one of his best clients suddenly lost her husband to cancer in 2012, he felt moved to launch Now What? This advocacy group for widows provides emotional, spiritual, physical, financial and social support, which Vartanian saw was lacking for many individuals.

“It became increasingly clear to her that there was not sufficient support for the widows of Guilford County, North Carolina,” he said. “There was the typical eight-week grief-share program that dealt with emotions, but no program or organization that she could go to and get additional emotional support (after the eight weeks), professional counseling, vetted resource providers to service widows, spiritual support, physical health and well-being advice, financial advice or the availability of an organized social network of widows.”

After conducting some researching, Vartanian learned there were about 52,000 widows in Guilford County. “We decided to start Now What? — a network for widows — in 2014,” he said.

The organization has grown to more than 325 widows, who benefit from its lunch-and-learn events, concert series, Bible studies, counselling services and resource providers. “Our five-member board has raised over $100,000 for programs associated with the above support areas,” Vartanian added. “Last year, Subaru awarded us with a $37,000 check for the Subaru Share the Love Event. We have plans to expand the available programs and continue adding services for our widows.”

Lion Street

Melvin Pope III (right) and a Florida National Guardsman with Meals Ready to Eat, or MREs, in Carrabelle, Florida.

If any charity has been busy this year, it’s been the Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross serving North Florida.

This is the charity to which Melvin Pope III, managing partner of Financial Partners of North Florida, associate of Lion Street, has volunteered time, sweat and toil since 1972, when he learned life saving and first aid skills on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout.

“I support the American Red Cross, because it protects the most financially and emotionally needy people of my region at the time in which they need it the most,” he said. “While we work to prepare for and prevent man-made disasters, we are first on scene during natural disasters to assist with food, water, shelter, emotional support and assistance information.

A Florida Wildlife Commission officer conducts a welfare check of Melvin Pope III’s beach home on Dog Island after surviving a roughly 14-foot storm surge from Hurricane Michael in Apalachicola Bay.

“Hurricane Michael has displaced over 500,000 in my region since Oct. 10, 2018. Nearly 50 lives have been lost and far too many people have lost their homes, businesses, boats, cars and every possession they ever had,” Pope added. “My neighbors’ lives have been forever altered.”

Prospera Financial Services

Tarah Carlow putting up decorations for a CHoR annual fundraising event.

Tarah Carlow, senior vice president-marketing and advisor loyalty for Prospera Financial, supports the Children’s Hospital of Richmond (CHoR) in Virginia. “It is important to me that all local children have access to world-class, specialized healthcare,” she said.

She has been active with CHoR for 10 years, “initially providing for a meal and a break on Mother’s and Father’s Day, and culminating into a leadership position on the Junior Board. The Junior Board raises funds each year to support growth needs at the hospital. Over the years, areas of focus have been on building a new mental health facility and most recently a new pediatric dental unit for children that have otherwise lacked access,” according to the executive.

Doug Charney, president of Charney Investment Group, located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has been busy raising money for cancer research at Johns Hopkins.

Doug Charney riding for Johns Hopkins cancer research.

“My participation in this effort began this past year when a client contacted me to sponsor his charity bike ride. As an avid cyclist myself, we rode with over 80 other cyclists 100 miles around Harrisburg, raising over $20,000 for Johns Hopkins,” according to Charney.

“After the ride’s great success, we hope next year to expand the ride all the way across Pennsylvania. As someone whose family has been affected by cancer, it is my hope that we can conquer this disease in my lifetime,” he added.

— Check out Investment Advisor magazine’s other Giving & Getting Back stories.

Ginger Szala is executive managing editor of Investment Advisor. She can be reached at [email protected]. Janet Levaux is editor-in-chief of Investment Advisor. She can be reached at [email protected].


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