Philanthropy Matters

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Why Philanthropy Matters

[Graham Coover '99, Alex Bellos '02, Emily Carr '02, Nate Ngai '99, Adam Keefer '98, and Gary Coover '00 in San Francisco]

This is a continuation of a conversation found on page 36 of the Autumn 2007 Caller magazine. 

San Francisco is home to several hundred Catlin Gabel alumni, including a group of younger alumni who share a common interest in philanthropy in general and in support of the Catlin Gabel Annual Fund in particular. We asked Adam Keefer '98, Graham Coover '99, Nate Ngai '99, Gary Coover '00, Alex Bellos '02, and Emily Carr '02 to tell us what they love best about Catlin Gabel and why philanthropy is important to them.

Philanthropy is important to me because:

I've been fortunate to be on the receiving end of the generosity of other people, and want to provide support such that others have opportunities to participate in activities and programs not normally available to them. – Nate Ngai ’99

It makes me feel like at least some of the years of studying, training and long hours at work are actually being used for something truly worthwhile. – Gary Coover ’00

Philanthropy revitalizes me. I am happiest when I am being productive, and so my involvement with non-work organizations allows me to take a mental break from my paid job while still doing something useful to society. I guess it all started with my parents because they are very charitable people, typically giving away 10% or more of their income every year to charity. They taught me a lot about the importance of giving and helping others in need. That is why philanthropy will always be a big part of my life. – Graham Coover ’99

I want to support organizations and causes that are important to my beliefs and values. It is essential that young people today start taking steps to become the next philanthropic leaders, and I want to be a part of that. Working for a non-profit arts organization has made me realize how even the smallest contributions are a vital part of the fundraising landscape, and so I try to do my part to give back. – Emily Carr ’02

It allows me to register my support for causes I believe in. Although my donations to, say, the Catlin Annual Fund or a microfinance provider in rural India may not be especially significant monetarily, the act of giving shows these organizations – and, hopefully, the groups they serve – that I recognize the important work they are accomplishing and wish to do what I can to help. – Alex Bellos ’02

Taking care of your community is an important part of a Catlin education which resonates with me today. – Adam Keefer ’98

I want the next generation to know that:

The school is a living community that they are shaping and molding every day. It’s important that today’s students understand and appreciate the traditions of days past but also create their own. The school is their place and they are at one time caretakers and creators of an important legacy. – Adam Keefer '98

Catlin Gabel teaches you that you should always be comfortable just being you. I don’t think that lesson gets taught in many other schools, and it’s something that makes Catlin’s graduates ready for college and ties the alumni community together. And a second thing: I will never be defeated in tennis ball golf. Never, ever, never, ever. Never. – Gary Coover ’00

Catlin Gabel is great preparation for the future. While Catlin is very demanding and requires a lot of work, from my short professional experience I've found that the skill set you develop here will serve you well in your careers. – Nate Ngai ’99

Catlin Gabel is an incredibly special place. No place compares to the community you can build during your time on campus. – Emily Carr '02

Catlin Gabel is most likely the most supporting environment outside of their immediate family they'll ever encounter. Although they may not realize it today, the sixty-odd kids in their class have shared a tremendous amount of experiences together which have created a pretty intense bond between them. Neither time nor distance does much to diminish the support this bond provides. – Alex Bellos ’02

The school is a living community that they are shaping and molding every day. I think it’s important that today’s students understand and appreciate the traditions of days past but also create their own. The school is their place and they are at one time caretakers and creators of an important legacy. – Adam Keefer ’98

My favorite Catlin Gabel memory is:

The many trips I took to Camp Cody: for Elana Gold projects, our freshman year orientation, and our senior year trip. The time we spent restoring parts of the Mt. Hood National Forest fostered a sense of achievement that remains with me today. – Emily Carr ’02

The long bus rides back from Vernonia and other coastal schools after basketball games. The cast of characters from both the boys and girls teams made the bus rides a highlight, as I tended to learn just as much on those bus rides as I did in any class room, albeit on topics not found on the SAT’s. – Gary Coover ’00

There are so many to choose from, besides from graduating, I would have to say being a part of the Theater program with Robert Medley. I was never an “A” student, but when it came to Theater Tech, I was fortunate enough to be at the top of the class. I spent many weekends working in the theater, building sets, hanging lights, building relationships and I enjoyed every minute of it. – Graham Coover ’99

The April Fools Day prank my senior year – Nate Ngai ’99

Looking through Susan Sowles' archive of yearbooks to find ideas for the 2002 edition. Flipping past pictures of the Dant House looking much as it did that day – and pictures of Clint looking much as he did too – really brought home to me the sense of community and continuity that makes Catlin such a special place. – Alex Bellos ’02

Tough question…hindsight and a ‘real-world’ perspective make it all seem so good. So many experiences, places and people…Arago certainly stands out. Both as a 6th grader and a returning senior, we had some good times there. – Adam Keefer ’98

One thing I would never change about Catlin Gabel is:

Calling teachers by their first name – it goes a long way to cutting down the barriers between students and faculty that prevent a true community environment from flourishing. – Alex Bellos ’02

The number of choices provided to students, ranging from classes to sports to other extracurricular activities. – Nate Ngai ’99

The sense that Catlin is a family. From helping first graders carve pumpkins, running into my dad at the Barn, and hanging out in C&C every morning with Bob Kindley - Catlin is my family. – Emily Carr ’02

The emphasis on recitation. I truly disliked reciting literature/poems in front of the class because it was so nerve racking. But now that I look back, it did help me through college and into my professional career get through tough presentations to large numbers of people. – Graham Coover ’99

Whether its buildings, teachers or traditions, it’s hard to see anything change. It would be a shame for the Catlin to lose track of its core values and sense of self which seems to be an increasingly difficult proposition in today’s educational environment. – Adam Keefer ’98

FOUR things I would never change about Catlin Gabel:
1. The emphasis on intellectual and artistic creativity.
2. The poet paper (is it too late?!?!).
3. The lunch ladies at the Barn and the strudel.
4. The gym. 200 people max, three people deep on the baseline and sideline: the Rose Garden has never sounded that loud. – Gary Coover ’00

I give to Catlin Gabel because:

I can gauge the effect my donation has better than most other organizations and can see the tangible results of my donation. I feel a personal connection to Catlin Gabel, and try to support it as generously as I can as a result. – Alex Bellos ’02

Everyone should have the opportunity to learn from the Art Leo’s, John Keyes’s, Harriet Weiser’s and Roberto Vila’s of the world (this list could go on forever): teachers who make sure that you not only learn what’s in the textbooks, but that you learn how to think creatively without fear of failure. – Gary Coover ’00

Because a well rounded high school education is absolutely critical for the road ahead, I feel it is important to give back to the schools which my brother and I attended. Catlin Gabel is an excellent institution and I want others to be able to enjoy similar experiences I had while I was there. – Graham Coover ’99

I enjoyed my experience and hope my support enables other students to have a similar positive experience. – Nate Ngai ’99

I want Catlin to continue making it possible for students to have all the unique experiences I was fortunate enough to have. – Emily Carr ’02

I want kids to enjoy the same experiences and have the same opportunities I had. I want to support faculty, staff and programs that were important in my life. – Adam Keefer ’98


In March 2006, Gary and Graham Coover, along with three friends, started BARRCA (Bay Area Residents Raising Community Awareness) as "a way to throw some fun charity events, do some good for some organizations we had volunteered with, and create an avenue through which to meet people with similar ambitions," according to Gary.

"Thanks to Christa Thoeresz (Class of ’01) and Peter Bromka (Class of ’00), we opened a chapter of BARRCA in Boston a couple months ago. The principal remains the same and we thought it would be a fun way to grow the idea of BARRCA into multiple cities and create an organization with some staying power. Our goal for BARRCA is to keep throwing successful events of increasing scale, with the hope that through our events and mailings some wonderful organizations can increase their profile in the community and receive enough donations to allow them to grow and expand on their missions."

Today, BARRCA (Bay & Boston Area Residents Raising Community Awareness) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness and raising funds for smaller organizations in Boston and the Bay Area. They bring people together for social events – anything from wine tastings to kick ball tournaments to club parties - while raising money for other charitable organizations.

"Basically, we're a group of friends who wanted to team up and do some event-based fundraising, have fun, meet people, and spread the word about some organizations that are doing great things in our cities," says Gary. "Everything we have done to date has been run on a zero-cost basis, allowing 100% of all donations to be given directly to the organizations. Thanks to the incredible support of our friends over the last two years, who showed up at our events and donated, we have been able to organize some tremendous parties and raise over $11,500 for organizations throughout Boston and the Bay Area."