Read about Elizabeth Watkins Gerner's
annual family volunteering trip.
As Executive Director of the Simmons Family Foundation, Elizabeth
helps her cousins understand the needs of communities, and the power of
philanthropy in making a difference.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work
did/do you do?
I currently work as the executive director of a foundation established
by my grandparents in 1986.
What is the name and location of the organization?
Elizabeth: Simmons Family Foundation located
in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
Elizabeth: Each year I organize a humanitarian/service trip for the third generation of Simmons (my cousins who range in age from 5 to 20) where we spend a few days to a week volunteering for various nonprofit organizations. In many cases, the Simmons
Foundation will donate the resources needed for the project while the "cousins"
donate the labor to complete the project.
This year we partnered with The Road Home (the homeless shelter here in Salt Lake City) where we planted flowers and bushes and laid sod in a courtyard that houses a small
playground for children who are temporary residents of the shelter. The Simmons
Foundation donated the money to purchase the materials, and the Simmons
cousins (with a lot of help from the staff of the Road Home) did the work. We also partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Southwest Utah in building a retaining wall at one of the homes. Habitat for Humanity provides low-income homes for families.
While these projects benefited the community, the Simmons cousins learned about the
great value and work of nonprofit organizations, the endless needs of communities, and the power of philanthropy in making a difference.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Elizabeth: The nonprofit sector is so broad that volunteer opportunities exist for everyone. Look for a volunteer opportunity that interests you or that you are very passionate about. Many benefits will be had by all.
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