Giving back to the community is a core value of the Montalbano family. John and Dana are involving their sons in philanthropy at an early age and leading by example. Dana credits her own upbringing with motivating her contributions as both a supporter and leadership volunteer for the Library.
“Because of my parents, compassion and active philanthropy were instilled in me as a fundamental tenant of being human. Philanthropic Giving was never a question and always part of my foundation. I learned and believe this is one of our responsibilities as humans. Giving not only benefits those we help, but also ourselves.”
Their approach to getting their two boys involved is inspiring. When the boys were only aged 6 and 5, John and Dana encouraged them to set aside a third of their allowances for charity as well as to host “twoonie birthday parties” where half of the gifts they received would then go to their cause of choice. They wanted the boys to be thoughtful in how they chose to give this money, so they spent a 6 month period having discussions as a family about all of the worthy causes they might support before the boys gave.
John and Dana give their full hearts when they support a cause. They both make donations and volunteer their time and expertise. John led the charge of the Library’s Campaign Cabinet for the Storey’s that Transform campaign, a group that raised over $12.5M to expand and renovate VPL’s Central Library. While Dana spearheaded the Library’s first-ever Beyond the Book Gala, which raised over $565,000 that supported the expansion of the Children’s Library and Children’s programming at VPL. They are teaching their boys the value of a gift that extends beyond the monetary.
As well as donating to their causes of choice, the boys have also been involved as active volunteers. They have done everything from helping prepare lunches for women and children in need, to pulling weeds for ecological organizations, and even setting up their own entrepreneurial endeavours like baking dog cookies for sale and collecting, cleaning, and selling lost golf balls in order to raise more funds.
“Hopefully, like John and me, our sons will continue this tradition into adulthood and in raising their own children. I have been blessed with the volunteer opportunities I have been given and derive great joy from being able to support charitable organizations, and even more so, by ultimately helping positively impact and transform the lives of the children, families and men and women that those charities help.”
John and Dana’s younger son, Marco was the youngest volunteer in the YWCA’s history at aged five. After Marco’s first volunteer day packing lunches at Crabtree Corner, he said:
“At first, I was sad because the women and children did not have enough to eat. But when I gave them the lunches, they were so happy that I felt happy. I want to do this for the rest of my life.”
The Montalbanos are building a legacy and ensuring the next generation of philanthropy in their family. They are sharing the joy of giving back.