Friday, February 18, 2011

Philanthropists share global visions

Wood River Women’s Charitable Foundation inspires giving

Express Staff Writer

Attendees at the Wood River Women’s Charitable Foundation annual winter forum listen intently to a panel of speakers who presented their philanthropy work beyond the Wood River Valley at the Valley Club on Tuesday, Feb. 15. Photo by Sabina Dana Plasse

In tough economic times, philanthropy still thrives. Many women and several men gathered at the Valley Club clubhouse north of Hailey on Tuesday, Feb. 15, for the Wood River Women's Charitable Foundation's annual winter forum. The theme of the event was to learn about "Philanthropy Beyond Our Borders."

The program included a panel of Wood River Valley humanitarians who actively give around the world. The panel included Peggy Goldwyn, who works with the United Nations and serves on a number of international philanthropic boards; Dr. Bonni Curran, who dedicates her efforts to health care in a variety of countries; Linn Kincannon, who works for Thriive, an organization that supports small and growing businesses in Vietnam, Kenya and the West Bank; and Midge and Trevor Patzer, who help young women in Nepal get an education.

In addition, Marcia Liebich, one of the founding members of the foundation, spoke on building Habitat houses in Jordan, a medical clinic in Tanzania and her work with Theresa Grant's organization, Make a Difference—Volunteer Now in Africa and India.

"You can find your niche for giving at any level," Goldwyn said about working with international philanthropic agencies.

Goldwyn said the United Nations works around the globe to help refugees build lives.

"I take people to Africa so they can see the work that is being done," Goldwyn said. "The UNFPA gives seed money to help. People want a leg up, not a handout."

Dr. Curran said she and her husband went abroad to work and practiced medicine, treating hundreds of patients and always teaching. She said health-care problems in poor countries are exacerbated by a lack of communication among health-care providers.

"Not everyone in the world networks," Curran said. "We take for granted our level of education and communication."

Kincannon, who works for Thriive, said her work became personal.

"The strength of global communities comes from within," Kincannon said. "A job is a single pathway out of poverty."

Kincannon said Triive is important because it's impossible for a small business in a developing country to obtain a loan. Thriive helps people start a small business.

Son-and-mother team Trevor and Midge Patzer have given women in Nepal opportunity for education and a better life through their Little Sisters Fund.

"All facets of life improve when you educate women," Trevor said. "Education is key to universal progress."

Trevor introduced Nikita to the forum as a special guest. Nikita is the first Nepalese woman to receive a scholarship to college from the Little Sisters Fund program.

Liebich, the last presenter from the panel, said her motivation to go beyond the U.S. for philanthropic endeavors was to do something different in her life with her husband.

"What can one person do?" asked Liebich. "I realized quickly there's a lot."

The Wood River Women's Charitable Foundation has more than 100 members and since its first event in July 2005 has presented more than $400,000 in grants.

Anyone who would like more information on any of these groups can send an e-mail to or search the Internet for the groups' websites.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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