It's been said that your greatness is not determined by what you have, but by what you give. For years, Sid and Karen DeBoer have been giving to hundreds of nonprofit organizations to improve communities. Through their foundation, the DeBoers foster youth mentoring programs, support hospitals, the arts, cancer research, universities and more. Their generous contributions have impacted the lives of countless Oregonians including at-risk youths, domestic violence survivors and students. Because of their philanthropy, their greatness can be seen across the state.
In 1964, Sid DeBoer began working various positions at his father's car dealership in Southern Oregon. By 1968, DeBoer took the business further by founding Lithia Motors, Inc. where he is currently chairman. Today, Lithia Motors has 91 locations nationwide and an employee volunteer program called Lithia 4 Kids to help improve childhood wellness and development in neighborhoods. The motto of Lithia 4 Kids is to teach, inspire, strengthen and empower todays youth. Children's Miracle Network, Access Inc., Boys & Girls Clubs of America, YMCA and Kid's Unlimited are just a few nonprofits that have benefited from Lithia 4 Kids' support.
The DeBoers' main contributions flow through their foundation, where millions of dollars in grants and project initiatives reach both national and local nonprofits. Currently, the DeBoers are helping the Ashland Family YMCA with the purchase and remodel of a camp at Lake of the Woods, a project which the DeBoers have contributed more than $3 million.
"The DeBoers have been extraordinarily generous to the YMCA, most recently with their incredible donation of a youth camp at Lake of the Woods along with a critical lead gift to ensure its restoration is a complete success. They have not only given monetarily but have also given countless hours of their time as board members for the YMCA," said Lisa Molnar, Executive Director of Ashland Family YMCA. "I can honestly say that Sid and Karen DeBoer are two of the most giving people I have ever known, and they truly care about our kids and our community from the bottom of their hearts."
The DeBoers give more than just money, they work to inspire others to invest in their community, too. The Mt. Ashland Association operates a nonprofit community ski area that serves the southern Oregon and Northern California area. The 50-year-old lodge needed repair and once they heard of the plans to renovate the lodge, the DeBoers were immediately interested and offered to match all community donations. As a result, community support skyrocketed.
"Yes, it would have been wonderful to have received the donations outright, but it was their challenge to our fellow community members to support the project which really made the difference. Karen and Sid went out of their way many times to make sure that those in our community with capacity to help our organization should do so," said Hiram Towle, General Manager of the Mt. Ashland Association. "We raised more than $1.4 million in donations supporting the project in 18 months. Our guests marvel at the improvements and this project simply would not have happened without the charismatic and generous support of the DeBoer Family."
The DeBoers give as generously of their time as they do their financial resources. Both serve on numerous boards throughout Southern Oregon including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Assante Health System Foundation, the Southern Oregon University Foundation, FCA/Chrysler National Dealer Council, Oregon Auto Dealers Board, National Auto Dealers Board, and the Ashland YMCA board. Moreover, they are community leaders who attend community fundraising events where they inspire others to give generously, too.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals has awarded Sid and Karen DeBoer the Vollum Award for Lifetime Achievement to pay tribute to exceptional generosity helping other nonprofits while providing leadership to organizations dedicated to improving community lives.
"It's hard to overstate the impact the DeBoers' philanthropy has had on Southern Oregon," said Max Williams, President and CEO of Oregon Community Foundation. "I've seen their generosity up close and they are truly deserving of this award."
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