Leonsis's promise: to 'leave more than I took'
Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis recalled to an audience of 500 philanthropists and nonprofit leaders a prayer he said to himself while his plane experienced trouble in 1984.
"If I lived," said Leonsis, "I promised I would leave more than I took."
Twenty-six years after surviving what ended as an emergency landing, he calls himself a "student of happiness," who believes in the power of philanthropy.
Leonsis was the keynote speaker at the recent Catalogue for Philanthropy's eighth annual issue release event at the Sidney Harman Center, hosted by ABC-7 anchor Maureen Bunyan.
"Ted is an exemplary case of a person who believes in the 'double bottom line' -- that companies should not only care about their profit but about the kinds of community citizens they are," said Barbara Harman, editor of the annual guide that provides resources to nonprofit groups and introduces them to donors.
After a cheer by students of City Year that had the audience on its feet, the event also highlighted a handful of nonprofits for their work and their video uploads to the Catalogue for Philanthropy site.
The Literacy Council of Montgomery County was recognized for its work helping adults learn to read and write. Its video featured 57-year-old Milton Whitley, a student of the organization, who said that because of his adult illiteracy, when he went to the grocery to buy oatmeal he picked up grits instead. "The hardest part was getting started and getting rid of the fear [of learning how to read]," said Whitley, who after going through the program is working to get his high school diploma.
DC Scores, an urban poetry and soccer after-school program, and Critical Exposure, which trains youth in photography, won awards for using the catalogue's site to garner donor support.
Joy of Motion Dance Center closed the event with a unity-themed number that incorporated tap, hip-hop, modern and African dances.
The catalogue's corporate sponsors included Allstate, CGI Federal, Raffa PC, Booz Allen Hamilton, Landon Butler & Co. and Bowman Consulting.
Foundations that sponsored the catalogue included the Harman Family Foundation, the Meyer Foundation, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and the Don Neal and Family Foundation.
-- Vanessa Mizell