Five important events in our world of philanthropy, spanning thirty years
I grew up five houses down the street from my grandparents in West Dennis. They lived, breathed, and enjoyed visual and performing arts. My grandmother was a painter and played the melodeon. My grandfather loved the theatre. Prior to his passing, he talked to my father and me about his concern for the stability and sustainability of arts on Cape Cod. In 1985, we formed and funded the John K. and Thirza Davenport Foundation for the Arts (one of the largest Foundations in the supporting the Arts on Cape Cod), supporting a commitment to excellence in the visual and performing arts. The John K. and Thirza Davenport Foundation grants scholarships to Barnstable County residents in their last two years of undergraduate study or, preferably, graduate work in the visual and performing arts. Preferences are given to projects, activities, or capital needs that are one-time, student driven situations.
The second important event was when we decided with our partner the Mugar Family to sell the Cape Cod Mall because of changes in the retail landscape. My father raised the question, “Because Cape Cod was so good to our families what should we do to give back?” During a five-minute call with David Mugar, it was decided that we would donate one million dollars to build a Cancer Center and install a linear accelerator at Cape Cod Hospital. The Davenport Mugar Center was the first major step toward the on-Cape oncology treatments we have available to us today.
Third, our team wanted to sponsor an event that would capitalize on our organizational skills and creativity. There were lots of golf, fishing, and tennis tournaments, as well as walks, runs, and biking for great causes. In Hyannis on September 15, 2001, we ran the first Seaside Lemans, a Formula 1 kart race that raised $120,000. We covered all the expenses of that first event. In the eight years since, this annual endeavor has put three million dollars into the hands of fantastic organizations assisting children, health and human services, and social services on Cape Cod.
Our fourth endeavor was borne out of a conversation with my mother. One day a few years back, she asked how we could improve the quality of life for Cape Codders, especially with regard to health care. The answer was, with the creation and implementation of new technology, to build much needed new facilities with improved access. Our company matched her gift and, in 2007, the Jane and Palmer Davenport Foundation was formed. To date, because of large grants from this Foundation, over a dozen organizations have raised their service bar.
Fifth and finally, in 2008, Cape Cod Healthcare faced some tough decisions due to budget constraints. Capital spending was curtailed. Our concern was that the Cancer Center, which we continued to support with software enhancements over the previous decade, could lose its edge. So, with persistence and creativity, I am proud to say a stereotactic radiosurgery unit has been ordered and will be installed this summer, allowing doctors to treat cancer patients with a non-invasive procedure, providing massive amounts of radiation with incredible precision. We will be able to treat targets in the brain, spine, and other extracranial organs with precision, speed and improved outcomes. Once again, Cape Cod Hospital will be on the leading edge with the treatments available to its cancer patients.