Our Donors, Our Community

The caring, compassion and commitment of our donors makes a true impact on our community.

Stories of Impact

How donors and their grants through the Nevada Community Foundation make a difference in our community.

Silvestri "Sharks" Go to Washington

Thanks to the school's namesake, Charles A. Silvestri, a group of students at Charles Silvestri Junior High School recently visited our nation's capital.  During their exciting educational trip, students met with government leaders including Senator Harry Reid, and visited our many national monuments and museums to better learn about and appreciate our history, and perhaps spark a passion for leadership!  As one student said “History has unraveled through my eyes and I will always remember what I learned, felt, and experienced”.

NWP Helps Salvation Army Increase Service Capacity

Nevada Women's Philanthropy (NWP) awarded  $325,000 to Salvation Army of Southern Nevada. The grant will be used to re-roof and rehabilitate the 12,500 square-foot emergency overnight shelter at its five-acre Owens Campus.

When the construction is completed, SA will be able to increase its overnight capacity to 120 beds for approximately 75 men and 45 every night. It currently serves 4,000 homeless people per year.

"Salvation Army is thankful to be this year's NWP grant recipient," Clark County Coordinator, Major Robert Lloyd said. "Our funding is down by close to $3 million from where we were before the recession.  If Salvation Army didn't receive this money from Nevada Women’s Philanthropy, we would face losing this building."

Golden Nugget Employees Helping Their Community

Due to the generosity of the employees of Las Vegas’ Golden Nugget Hotel, over 30 local nonprofit organizations will benefit from grants, in-kind donations, and volunteer efforts stemming from the Community Outreach program this year alone. Their charitable efforts impact a wide range of community issues and programs. During these difficult economic times, these passionate employees collectively granted over $30,000 in funds and thousands more in goods and volunteer hours.

The Golden Nugget Community Outreach Program has been in full swing for many years. The program, which is 100% funded by employees, assists the community in many ways. The Golden Nugget Community Outreach Committee receives and reviews an average of 100 grant requests per year, ultimately choosing between ten and fifteen organizations as grant recipients.  The funds raised to provide these grants are donated strictly by the employees, and no funds are donated or matched by the company. In addition to grant awards,  the Committee selects a number of additional organizations as "community partners" to recieve assistance (provided direclty by Golden Nugget employees) including volunteer services, in-kind donations and sponsoring a variety of special events for the organizations.

A list of recent grant recipients can be seen in the Donor Advised Grants section of our wensite.

Medically Necessary Surgeries Performed at No Cost To Patients

Thanks to Helping Hands Surgical Care,10 medically necessary surgeries were performed at no cost to the patients on HHSC’s inaugural Charity Surgery Day. These surgeries restored quality of life and ended years of struggle with pain and debilitating medical conditions for individuals who often fall between the cracks.

To date, HHSC has received more than 200 applications and 10 additional qualified patients, who lack insurance and meet the financial and medical requirements, are anxiously waiting for surgery. HHSC can perform these 10 surgeries for only $35,000 – that's an average of only $3,500 each. That's because the doctors receive no pay and HHSC works with medical facilities and other providers to secure the lowest possible fees.

Changing Lives Community Fund Empowers At-Risk Students

Communities in Schools of Nevada and Teach for America Las Vegas launched a collaborative effort to expand the CISN Academy program at Chaparral High School starting in the fall of 2012.  Students at risk of dropping out due to credit deficiency and poor attendance can enroll in the program, which focuses on goal setting, life skills, and college and career planning.  The joint effort will allow TFA and its teachers to focus on structured education, while CISN site coordinators help meet students' basic needs and address underlying barriers affecting their attendance and participation.  Thanks to the ongiong efforts of Changing Lives Community Fund to positively impact youth and education, this revolutionary collaboration will give students new educational opportunities and increase graduation rates in Southern Nevada.

Ready for Life Grant Promotes Environmental Stewardship

Volunteer mentors and their matched little brothers and sisters from Big Brothers Big Sisters Southern Nevada recently took the first of many outdoor field trips to learn about our fragile desert environment. Funding provided through the Nevada Community Foundation and its Ready for Life grant will enable children to learn how to be mindful stewards of the environment, as well as provide education about the impacts of industrial and recreational land use. Each trip will focus on a different area of environmental impact, from land reclamation to urban trail cleanup and rural service projects. Positive experiences with adult role models such as these trips continue to have a positive effect on mentored children, who are 46% more likely to graduate from high school and have improved permanent outcomes.

Stories of Generosity

Our passionate donors have inspiring stories.  Here are just a few:

Charlie Silvestri

Charlie Silvestri heard about the GI Bill while working in a Cleveland aircraft factory. He joined the army, and when he left the Army in 1957, he joined his family’s exodus from hometown Vandergrift, PA to Las Vegas, and enrolled at Nevada Southern (now UNLV). One of his nine siblings had moved to Las Vegas in 1950 and his entire family, followed. Charlie arrived on July 7th, and was working the very next day.

Charlie recalls that “Las Vegas was growing like crazy. The opportunities were amazing. If you couldn’t make it in Las Vegas, you just couldn’t make it.” Silvestri used every hour of his day. While going to college, he worked full time as a keno writer in several casinos to augment his GI bill income. While teaching, he continued to work weekends and summers to augment his teaching salary.

While taking a year of classes in Reno, he was introduced to U.S. Senator Howard Cannon’s administrative aide, who found Silvestri an afternoon job with the U.S. Senate postal service so he could attend American University’s Washington College of Law. He lived and studied in D.C. for 18 months, before returning to Nevada.

Truth was, Charlie Silvestri wanted to be back in Las Vegas, with his family and with his new wife Marydean Martin, whom he met when she was an assistant librarian at UNLV. “Besides,” he points out, “Las Vegas was where the action was.” He earned a Masters Degree in Administration and Supervision and became a history/government teacher from 1963-1968 at Hyde Park Junior High School and Valley High School.

That was the start of a quarter-century in education. As Las Vegas grew from approximately 50,000 in population to Clark County’s current two million, Silvestri served as CCSD Associate Superintendent of Personnel, Chief Negotiator, and wrote the district’s first Affirmative Action plan. Charlie was also Deputy Superintendent, district lobbyist, and even Acting Superintendent of Schools from 1981-82. “I witnessed remarkable change during my time,” he acknowledges. “In the 1960s, Las Vegas was a very stable community. After the 1970s, we began to see major ‘churning’ at the schools, with families moving in and out of the district.” Silvestri retired from the Clark County Schools in 1989.

A man who worked since he was age 12 was not about to quietly hang up his mortarboard. Charlie served as Director of Government and Community Relations for Southwest Gas Corporation, was there ten years, and then worked another ten years as an independent lobbyist and mediation & arbitration consultant. Governor Kenny Guinn appointed Silvestri to the state Public Employees Retirement Board in 1999, and he served on the board for twelve years, including four years as chair, four years as vice chair, and four years as a trustee.

“I was in Carson City when a former secretary called to tell me the school board named a school after me,” Silvestri remembers. “I was shocked and honored.” As the namesake of Charles A. Silvestri Junior High School, he and his wife Marydean Martin send twelve 8th graders and two chaperones on a field trip every year to Washington, DC. They go for five days, see all the important sights, and visit the White House. They even have breakfast with Senator Reid. “I want to reward those students who are really trying.” Silvestri says. He personally reads all the essays they write when they return. The couple also gives several summer camp scholarships and supports the school library.

And keeping his hands in all aspects of education, Silvestri has also been instrumental as a trustee of The Alexander Dawson School at Rainbow Mountain. The expansive pre-K-8 program is one of only three private schools in all of Southern Nevada to be nationally and regionally accredited.
Not surprisingly, Silvestri is as diligent about managing his philanthropic dollars as he was negotiating union contracts and investing pension funds. “I first learned about the Nevada Community Foundation from [Emeritus Director] Lou Gamage. I had a lot of tough questions: was it spending the money on the right things? How was the money invested? Ask Gian [Brosco, president and CEO] about our first interview,” Silvestri laughs. Today Silvestri helps guide the Community Foundation from the inside, as a board member.

At 78, Charlie shows little sign of slowing down. Charlie and his wife Marydean continue to be active community leaders and a source of inspiration and giving. He’s ready to engage on any topic, any challenge, just as he was the day he landed in Las Vegas 55 years ago. “No one is more dedicated to the betterment of education,” U.S. Senator Harry Reid says of Charlie.

Duncan & Irene Lee

Duncan Lee has worked hard and done well. He earned a BS and MBA at the University of Southern California; became one of the youngest vice presidents ever for one of the world’s largest banks; assisted his family’s international manufacturing business and established RDL Investments, Inc., a real estate investment company that manages residential, office, industrial and resort properties in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Singapore, and Hong Kong. But settling into Las Vegas over two decades also helped define his priorities. “At 32, making money was the path to success,” he admits. “At 50, I’m very aware that having material goods doesn’t make one feel any better.”

“To succeed on the economic ladder is through education,” he says. “I am grateful and was lucky because my parents were able to put me through private school. Irene and I are committed to seeing that other children get every opportunity.” They’ve put their money – and their time – behind his words.

Through the Council for A Better Nevada, for example, the Lees helped “adopt” the C.T. Sewell School , a Las Vegas ‘empowerment’ public school. The Lees have already donated more than $200,000 toward the effort, but the battle has been personal for Duncan, too. “We had to work for everything we got,” he explains. “The building was donated, the supplies were donated. We attracted the support of surrounding businesses. Mostly, we had to push against the prevailing bureaucracy to get things done.” Lee was also in the forefront to recruit forward-thinking Clark County School Superintendent Dwight Jones from Colorado.

The Lees have also been active leaders in their own children’s distinguished alma mater, The Meadows School. He takes pride in the couple’s efforts that contributed to the school having a young principal who won a Milken educator’s award and a 100 percent four-year college acceptance rate. In true Lee style, he says he expects they will stay deeply involved even though their children have now both graduated. “We’re happy to continue the legacy of this distinguished institution,” he notes.

Last, but hardly least, Duncan Lee also serves as a trustee of the William “Bill” Endow Scholarship fund, which provides college scholarships to high-achieving Asian-American high school students. Born in Oregon, Endow was placed in American internment camps at age 6 with other Japanese-American families. He became an accomplished engineer in Las Vegas, and volunteered in the public schools.

“I add my voice to the dozens of people around Las Vegas who are grateful for the near-daily wisdom that they can count on from Duncan Lee,” says NCF President and CEO Gian Brosco. “He’s thorough, meticulous, and a great businessman. Most of all, he cares about his community.”

The Diaz Family

When Anne Diaz lost her husband, Dr. Ruben Diaz in 2004 after 28 years of marriage, she and their children wanted to commemorate his tireless good work in the community and help support our future physicians.  They established the Ruben P. Diaz Memorial Scholarship Fund to honor his legacy.  The fund grants an annual scholarship to a bilingual pediatric resident who plans to work with disadvantaged and underserved children in Nevada.

Ruben came from humble beginnings, born and raised in the barrio of Bakersfield, California. From an early age, Ruben knew he wanted to be a physician, but often faced racial discrimination and stereotyping. His counselor, for example,  wanted to direct him to work in landscaping or sheet metal.  Ruben had to fight to get into college preparatory classes, where he was the only minority student, and he demonstrated his determination by receiving the school's Biology Award at graduation. Ruben began his college education at Occidental College in Los Angeles, but the lack of support and cultural diversity had him heading back to Bakersfield. There, he excelled in the Nursing program at the local California State University.  Ruben was still driven by his desire to become a physician, and supported by his wife Anne, he applied to medical school.  Ruben was accepted to not one but four medical schools, and chose to attend UC Irvine.

When it came time for his residency, Ruben knew that he had to work with children. He often told his wife that adults were too set in their bad health habits, but you could influence a child’s life for the better. He always focused on making tomorrow a better place for children to thrive than today was. His attitude, willingness to put in long hours, and keen mind caught the attention of his professors, who selected him as Chief Resident.

After working for three years in a tiny town, Ruben realized that he could make a greater impact as a specialist than as a general practitioner. He wanted to provide care to those who needed it the most, and to those who could not afford it. After a fellowship in Pediatric Pulmonology, Ruben and his family moved to Las Vegas.

In his 14 years as a Las Vegas pediatric pulmonologist, Ruben helped develop the Lied Pulmonary Clinic at the University Medical Center. This clinic aimed to serve children who were uninsured or only received Medicaid benefits. Ruben also established a satellite Cystic Fibrosis clinic in his office -the only clinic of its kind linked directly to a private practice. He was involved in multiple clinical drug trials and research projects to develop better treatments for children with lung disease and respiratory problems.  Ruben was also named Physician of the Year in pediatrics by his peers.

"It could be 2 a.m. when he was treating a really sick child and he'd be cheery and nice," said Dr. Blair Duddy, chief of pediatrics at Sunrise Children's Hospital. "It wouldn't matter if the family could pay or not -- everyone got treated with the same attention and care." 

"He treated every child as if it was his own," says Anne Diaz, his wife of 28 years. "If it was something he would do for his own child, he would do it for his patient." Michael, his eldest, played competitive soccer for years, and any team member who needed asthma care was seen by Ruben free of charge. In addition, Ruben attended and recorded every game he could, and supported the boys on and off the field. It is a tribute to his impact on that team that over half its members attended his memorial service, coming from as far away as Chicago, Illinois.

Ruben was a caring and compassionate man, and served as a mentor for aspiring pediatricians. Residents at University of Nevada School of Medicine could choose to take a one month rotation with Ruben. He was known for a demanding rotation, but his sense of humor and willingness to guide the residents toward competence resulted in a waiting list. The residents voted him Associate Professor of the Year multiple times, and he was always willing to help any resident or medical school student who appeared to need it while making his hospital rounds.

The community of Las Vegas paid one last tribute to Ruben two years after his death, when an elementary school was named in his honor. His name was selected out of over 100 applicants, unanimously, during the first round. Two of his former patients and two fellow physicians volunteered to speak before the School Board. As his widow Anne thanked the board members individually, she found that each had a story about how Ruben had saved a son, a grandchild, or a neighbor’s child. His family requested that the school named for him be in a lower income area of Las Vegas. That request was granted, and the Ruben P. Diaz Elementary School is thriving to this day.

Since his passing, the Ruben P. Diaz Memorial Scholarship Fund has helped emerging pediatric physicians in their residency remain in our community to impact the lives of local children and their families.

Nevada Women’s Philanthropy

A group of philanthropically motivated women united by a powerful desire to address emerging issues facing our community in the areas of arts, education, environment, social services, and health, NWP has gifted over $2,000,000 since 2006. Past recipients of NWP’s charitable grant making include: Community Counseling Center of Southern Nevada; Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, NWP Children's Attorneys Project; Public Education Foundation, Empowerment Schools Program; Greater Las Vegas After-School All-Stars, Roundy Elementary School; Foundation for an Independent Tomorrow, NWP Employment Project. Learn more about NWP at nvwomensphilanthropy.org

The Devald Family

Known fondly by some as “Crazy Ernie” and by others as “Caring Ernie,” Ernie Devald truly was a mix of both, as reflected in his life’s story. Ernie was born April 7, 1944, in Buffalo, New York, where he spent his childhood and young adult years. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force immediately upon hearing the news of President Kennedy’s assassination, and he served for four years. After the service, Ernie tried more jobs than can be remembered – florist, dragster racer, jewelry counter manager, bartender, loan collector, roofer, truck driver, and the list goes on. He was working as a bank mailroom supervisor in Buffalo when he met his wife, Debbie. They married in 1975 and less than a year later they moved to Las Vegas and have been residents ever since. They gave birth to their daughter, Stacey Devald (now Stacey Wedding), in 1976. Ernie’s job list continued in southern Nevada as a bus station janitor, a security guard at the Flamingo Hilton, and for the last 16 years before retiring, a U.S. postal carrier.

Even with his multitude of jobs, Ernie’s greatest love was his wife and daughter, to whom he devoted his life. Already battling cancer, he began to spread his love and generosity to his second family at St. Rose Hospital Siena Campus, where he volunteered nearly 6000 hours since 2007 in the Pediatric Ward. His poetry and humor warmed the hearts of many sick children, their parents and all of the nurses and doctors he considered friends. Ernie’s long and courageous battle with cancer ended on January 11, 2012. Debbie and Stacey continue to honor Ernie's giving legacy with the Ernie Devald Memorial Fund.

Leonard & Audrey Albertini

Leonard J. Albertini was born January 8, 1918, in New York City. His wife Audrey M. Albertini was born August 11,1916 in Pasadena, California. They were married January 10, 1939 and moved to Denver, Colorado in 1947, where Leonard built Colorado's first drive in theater which opened in July of 1949. He remained in the theater business for 23 years, and the Albertinis retired to Las Vegas in 1970.  Leonard and Audrey were married for a remarkable 70 years. Audrey passed away on January 13, 2008 at the age of 92 and Leonard passed away on June 23, 2010 at the age of 92.

Always interested in helping others, the Albertinis were moved deeply by the efforts of Opportunity Village and Nathan Adelson Hospice to aid and uplift the Southern Nevada Community. As members of NCF's Legacy Society, Leonard and Audrey left a large portion of their estate to benefit the organizations through an endowed fund at Nevada Community Foundation. Through their endowment, both Nathan Adeslon Hospice and Opportunity Village will receive annual gifts to support programs for years to come, giving the Albertini’s legacy a permanent impact on the Southern Nevada community.

Larry Carter

Larry Carter has been honoring his daughter Kirsten's memory since 2005 through the establishment of The Kirsten Carter Fund at Nevada Community Foundation.  So far, the fund has supported more than 45 organizations serving the people of Southern Nevada.  From children to senior citizens, blindness to alzheimer's, education to athletics, The Kirsten Carter Fund has supported such diverse charities as St. Jude's Ranch for Children, Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation, Shade Tree and The Alzheimer's Association, among many, many others.  And with the help of NCF, The Kirsten Carter Fund will continue to be a source of comfort and support to Nevadans forever.