“Communities that thrive, do not get that way by idleness," said keynote speaker Dr. Ralph Armstrong during the National Philanthropy Day (NPD) dinner celebration at San Juan Oaks on Wednesday, Nov. 15. The event, which was attended by 300 people, recognized 42 outstanding nonprofit volunteers in San Benito County. This year, the NPD highlighted philanthropic health service members of the community who have dedicated their lives to the well-being of residents in our county.
Dr. Armstrong, an Obstetrician-Gynecologist in Hollister, touched on his reasons for giving back to the community where he works and lives. The Armstrong family arrived to Hollister in 2005, from Georgia, after their search for a small town with a good sense of community. As a child, Dr. Armstrong first became involved in volunteerism with the Boy Scouts of America. He said, “We were constantly doing service projects to help our community or were just involved in the organization’s leadership.” With his parents as examples of how to make a community a better place, Dr. Armstrong focused on helping people live healthy lives. He centered his profession around health care and has strongly stood behind many local organizations that were present over the years. Organizations like Emmaus House, Hollister Pregnancy Center, San Benito Health Foundation, Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital, Hazel Hawkins Hospital Foundation, and the Hazel Hawkins Auxiliary have all been platforms for Dr. Armstrong to give back to his community.
The people involved with nonprofit organizations in San Benito County understand Dr. Armstrong shared, “the good feeling that you get when you give to our community —it is what makes our community great.” Dr. Armstrong ended by thanking all who contribute to these worthwhile organizations.
After community members were recognized for their outstanding volunteerism, President of the Community Foundation for San Benito County, Gary Byrne, closed the night by sharing a few examples of what the night encompassed. He mentioned the importance of having a voice in the community as an unofficial or official spokesperson. Byrne said, “A person who gives their voice, gives their skill, time, and talent but they go beyond these endeavors to get other people involved. We all need people involved, that is what philanthropy is about.”
Byrne went further and said, “Charity is about solving the immediate problem, whereas, philanthropy attempts to address the root cause of the problem—the difference between giving the gift of a fish to a hungry person or teaching them how to fish for themselves. Many nonprofits in our community, day in and day out, are teaching people to fish, to be self-sufficient, to stand on their own two feet, and they are surrounded by all of these wonderful volunteers here tonight.”