Local Focus: Newport Residents to be Honored on National Philanthropy Day

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Victoria Collins
Victoria Collins

“The practice of giving money and time to help make life better for other people.”

That’s how Webster’s dictionary defines the word “philanthropy.”

For a local definition, you’d simply find two names listed: Victoria Collins and Natalie Cernius. These two community volunteers are being honored at the 28th annual National Philanthropy Day luncheon being held at Hyatt Regency Irvine on Thursday, November 21.

Collins, a former board president for Human Options and a founder of United Way’s Women’s Philanthropy Fund, has been named Outstanding Philanthropist for her leadership in empowering women and girls to be financially competent and confident, while Cernius is being honored as Outstanding Youth for her dedication to serving the disabled youth population in Orange County.

“Victoria Collins represents the very reason that National Philanthropy Day was established. Through her passion, especially about empowering girls and women, and her persistency against indifference and inertia, Victoria has impacted not just the individuals she wished to help, but organizations and entire communities,” said Doug Freeman, Founder of National Philanthropy Day and Senior Managing Director of First Foundation. Collins is a board member at First Foundation.

“She never stops volunteering and encouraging others to participate,” added Freeman. “She’s a perfect example of the finest form of philanthropy. She displays true generosity of spirit. I can’t imagine how many individuals have been inspired for their own generosity with her role model, and that’s so important–to create new role models for the next generation of philanthropists.”

Cernius, 18, is an example of that next generation.

According to the National Philanthropy Day material, Cernius was inspired by her brother with special needs to start the Friday Night Club, which provides an opportunity for high school students to complete community service hours and offer a community social outlet for spending quality time with youth who have autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other special needs.

In addition to receiving a personal $750 scholarship, Cernius also gets to designate a $2,500 donation to the charity of her choice. She chose United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County for their support in hosting Friday Night Club once a month in their office, as well as providing staff members to help with management and fundraising ideas for the club.

Since its inception just two years ago, Friday Night Club has grown from hosting six children with autism and six of Cernius’s friends to serving up to 80 participants per meeting, including elementary aged children, high school students and college students.

“I am grateful and honored to represent the hundreds of Orange County families who are looking for social opportunities for their teenagers with special needs,” said Cernius in a statement. “Thanks to the generosity of National Philanthropy Day OC, Friday Night Club can continue to grow and address this unmet need for people like my brother Andrew.”

National Philanthropy Day Orange County honors those who have demonstrated philanthropy and enhanced their communities and the world. Each year more than 100 Association of Fundraising Professionals chapters throughout the US and Canada honor the philanthropic efforts of individuals, businesses, and groups. Net proceeds of the event support the ethical advancement of philanthropy in the community by the Orange County Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

National Philanthropy Day Orange County is sponsored by the Orange County Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and is presented by the Orange County Register.

Visit npdoc.org for more information.

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