Mayor Victoria Garcia-Snyder and the Albion Community Foundation announce $2 million matching gift from the de Nicola family
By SYLVIA BENAVIDEZ
The celebration is over, but the community’s work is about to begin in Albion. During the Festival of the Forks, Mayor Victoria Garcia-Snyder and The Albion Community Foundation announced that the Christie and Tony de Nicola family made the largest gift in the Foundation’s history. The de Nicola’s $2,000,000 gift has a matching gift component, resulting in a total of $4,000,000 going to support projects involving improvements for area residents, especially that of children. Christie and Tony de Nicola were both raised in Albion and Tony’s mother still lives in the city. The gift was made in the honor of their respective parents Christie’s parents Beth and John Saurer, and Tony’s parents, Carol and Guy de Nicola.
Garcia-Snyder was critical in securing this gift. “When I was elected, I was committed to providing more resources and opportunities for the youth of our community. I am grateful that the de Nicola family shares my vision and love for this community and for their willingness to provide the financial resources that will make this vision a reality. We all grew up with the same common denominator of influences, such as Tillman Cornelius, Hazel Lias, Mike Sequite, John Schilling, MaryAnn Egnatuk, and many other great educators. I am thankful to be part of the initiative that will bring in resources to provide the same type of leadership and guidance that helped shape many of our lives and inner fortitude. I am hopeful that this will be an inspiration for other Albion graduates and residents to give back to our community.”
This is the single largest gift to the Foundation and to the community in our history
Shane Williamson, executive director of the Albion Community Foundation, said: “The Albion Community Foundation has been committed to the city of Albion for over 50 years. This is the single largest gift to the Foundation and to the community in our history and comes at a critical time as the city is rebounding from Covid and beginning a new phase of growth and prosperity.”
The Albion Community Foundation will work with city leaders under Garcia-Snyder to fund and complete specific community projects that have been agreed upon by the de Nicola family and the Foundation. Among the first such projects will be a splash pad and playground in McIntosh Park. This Park has been without equipment and love for so long, and because of this support, it will be revitalized as one of the Albion Community Foundation’s priority communities inside Albion. There are so many more projects on the horizon.
Community leaders have recommended these projects as part of their Blueprint for a Better Albion, which was used to convince the de Nicola family to support their vision for the transformation and renewal of Albion.
Other improvements on the horizon because of the donation include
- a McIntosh Shelter,
- McIntosh Park lighting,
- amenities, and
- During the festival, a display board of the vision at the reception at Bournelis Park listed basketball and tennis courts upgrades,
- roof repair to the Victory Park Ice Arena,
- City Park and Recreation sign upgrades,
- Victory Park bathroom upgrades,
- and so much more.
To assist the de Nicola family in monitoring the progress of the various projects, the family has established a five-person advisory board comprised of long-time Albion community leaders and residents. Garcia-Snyder said, “The advisory board consists of Mark Garrison, Karen de Nicola Hoaglin, Mike Sequite, Gwen Tabb, and Larry Williams.”
Sequite was instrumental in helping to secure and shape this gift for the city of Albion. He has known the de Nicola family since the early 1970s when he played football at Albion College, then became a police officer on the Albion Police Department where Carol de Nicola worked, and ultimately coached Tony at Albion High School.
“I feel very fortunate to be involved with their family and have stayed very close. This past winter, I spent some time with Tony and Christi in Florida, and we were talking about how Toni and Christie wanted to do something for the City of Albion. They both grew up here, and they want to do things for the kids of Albion, and it was important for us to get involved with the city with the leadership of Vicki and Scott Kipp, and Haley Snyder. We have trust in them that they would do the right things for the community or the youth,” said Sequite.
I feel very fortunate to be involved with their family and have stayed very close.
Although the de Nicolas could not attend the reception in Albion, Sequite shared how important it was for them to honor their parents with the donation at the night’s event and make her the center of attention. He said, “Mom is here, and that is the important thing that mom got to be here and have fun and see a lot of the people that she knows here and enjoy the night.”
The de Nicola family established two separate, equal funds within the Community Foundation to honor their parents. One will be in honor of Christie’s parents, the Beth and John Saurer Fund, and the other will be in honor of Tony’s parents, the Carol and Guy de Nicola Fund. The distribution of the funds comes in two parts. The first portion has been made up front to begin work in early 2022 on projects in the agreement. The second installment will come as matching dollars as the foundation and city leaders actively work to gain more support for this work.
Our gift to Albion is in tribute to our beloved parents.
Tony de Nicola explained the rationale behind establishing these two funds saying, “Our gift to Albion is in tribute to our beloved parents. In making this pledge, we believe that our parents are the ones who should be recognized for all they have done for Albion and, of course, for us. We honor them because of who they are and for the commitment to helping others that they embody, and we thank them for the unconditional love and support they have always provided to their families, friends, and to the community of Albion.”
“Tony and I were both raised and educated in Albion and are proud graduates of Albion High School, where we met as student-athletes.” said Christie. “Our lives have been blessed in so many ways, and we have never forgotten the deep roots we have in Albion. We love Albion, and we have always given back to our hometown. We are so grateful to all those teachers, coaches, friends, and family members who provided for us that critical Foundation of faith, family, and education here in Albion that allowed us to achieve our God-given potential, to create a wonderful life for our families and to give back to the community and to so many worthy organizations who help others. With this gift, we are helping to provide for today’s Albion families and children the same types of parks, recreation programs, and opportunities that we were fortunate to have as youngsters growing up in Albion.”
Carol de Nicola, surrounded by friends and family, shared how as a mother, the event touched her heart. “It just shows me that you have to raise your children with faith and prayer and teach them the right way from the very beginning. You teach them and faith in God, things will prevail.” She explained what keeps her in the city. “I was born and raised in Jackson. I married and came to Albion. I raised five children here. I had a good job here, and I felt this was the place for me. Four children chose to leave. I have one daughter that stayed here, and it’s just been home to me. The people of Albion are so good to me, as you can see tonight. The people showed up to honor my son and his wife. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Michael E. Williams, CEO of Orchards Childrens’ Services, Albion College Trustee, and former Mayor of Albion, commented on the two families he has known since he arrived on the college campus in Albion. “I have known Tony and Christie since they were in middle school when I coached Tony in basketball and became very close with his family. They are great examples of the type of people that Albion produces. Of course, we know that they are incredibly successful, but more than their career and life achievements, they are kind, caring, generous people. If you know their parents, you are not surprised. I think of Carol as my adopted mom in town, and equally generous in their love are John and Beth.”
The loving community spirit and generosity give Larry Williams, one of the advisory committee members, hope for the city’s future and why serving in this capacity brings him so much satisfaction.
The loving community spirit and generosity give Larry Williams, one of the advisory committee members, hope for the city’s future and why serving in this capacity brings him so much satisfaction. Williams explained “For me, this culminates some work that we had started about seven years ago. As a recreation director, we put together a five-year recreation plan. We identified as one of the needs in the community the need for each segment of the community to have a public park that they could walk to. An area that was identified as not having that was McIntosh Park. So to see this become a reality is just kind of overwhelming. It is well needed, and I think it will serve the entire community. It is really needed in that area.”
Gwen Tabb shared that the advisory committee has lost no time in getting started with their duties.“We’ve had one organizational meeting just to meet each other, and I am excited about the prospect and the future. I think it’s a wonderful project, and just to give life to that area over there would be exciting.” Sequite arranged for the group to meet and get acquainted with their duties. “Our job is to be good stewards of the project, see that things are being done the way the family would like it to be done and that there is fiscal integrity.” She feels the project will have such an impact on the entire city. “It’s on the west side of town. A lot of people, not just children in this community, have not been on the west side of town. I believe this playground will bring all of the children of Albion together and that they will play, especially the splash pad. Who doesn’t want to be over there? I can see on some of those hot days I might stick my feet in there. It will be great for the kids. So I think it will bring the children of Albion together,” she said.
Albion City Manager Haley Snyder said, “This will be a first step for a transformation for our community that is long overdue. I am so excited to be a part of it.”
Tony and Christie de Nicola currently reside in Florida, and they have three adult children (Kaley, Ted, and CJ). In addition to their successful careers, the de Nicolas are generous philanthropists and highly engaged in their community, as well as with numerous organizations affiliated with the Catholic Church. Among others, the de Nicolas have supported St. John’s church and school in Albion, Albion College, The Albion Community Foundation, the University of Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of New York, the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, Harvard Business School, and DePauw University.
Albion City Council received details on October 4 about the plans for Albion’s public parks with the gift from the de Nicola family in this excerpt from the City’s YouTube channel.
Read about the Cram Fund to help support the Albion Train Depot by clicking the image below
Other articles by Sylvia Benavidez
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