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FareStart tasty philanthrophy in action

July 18, 2014

What do Seattle's "most socially responsible crouton" and Saint Francis University have in common? Bill Adamucci (Economics '66), that's what.

 Tasty Philanthropy Bill Adammuci

By Marie Young,  Director of Marketing & Communications, originally published in Saint Francis University Magazine Spring/Summer 2014

Tasty Philanthropy

When you dine at FareStart Restaurant in Seattle, you can sample “without a doubt, the most socially responsible crouton you will ever eat.” The idea that a crouton can change lives is one that Bill Adamucci, ’66, a member of FareStart’s Governing Board, agrees with wholeheartedly.

FareStart (www.farestart.org) is a social enterprise organization that uses food to improve the lives of homeless adults and youth. Since 1992, nearly 7,000 people have benefited from the job training/placement and other offerings within the program.

The FareStart model is an amazing blend of philanthropy and entrepreneurship. The program’s $8 million budget is funded primarily through sales of contract meal and restaurant revenue, along with generous gifts from private and corporate sponsors. Only about 10 percent of the budget comes from government grant funding. If you think about it,

FareStart beautifully brings to life a quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi that we are like to use for inspiration at Saint Francis University: “Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Every week a new group of homeless men and women begin a 16-week journey to employability. The comprehensive program combines hands-on food service training with classroom instruction, individual case management, life skills training, and job placement services. 

 

FareStart Training program

Training in progress:The hands-on culinary training portion of the program (photo by Frank Huster)

The program isn’t a silver bullet against homelessness. Many of the participants have to come to terms with issues around drugs and alcohol use, as well as domestic violence, sexual abuse, and mental illness. FareStart partners with many other services to help increase the success rate of their students. FareStart has contracts with housing partners and covers the costs of beds during the program. They provide a transitional path as students build a payment history and save for a deposit. FareStart may also pay for housing during the first month after a participant graduates and begins to earn a paycheck. In 2013, 90 percent of the adult training participants secured employment within 90 days of graduation, and six months later 88 percent of those individuals are still in the jobs.

Read the rest of the FareStart story: Spring/Summer 2014 Saint Francis University Magazine

About Bill Adamucci:

For Bill Adamucci (economics ’66) of Seattle, statistics have always held deep meaning.
• 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty
• 49 million Americans struggle with hunger
• 40% of the food in the U.S. was thrown away last year
• 1 out of 3 girls/women have been sexually assaulted
• 1 out of 5 boys/men have been sexually assaulted
(data from the 2011 U.S. census, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Justice)

As overwhelming as these figures are, Adamucci has an unshakable faith that people have the power to transform the lives behind these statistics. Adamucci —a financial executive with a strong background in mergers and acquisitions, as well as in the fundraising arena—has raised more than $40 million dollars over the past five years for non-profit organizations.

“I did well in my career and I feel it is important to give back to the community,” Adamucci explains. He shares his “time, talent, and treasure” to make a difference.

With so many needs in the world, Adamucci recommends developing a giving philosophy to keep from becoming overwhelmed and to maximize your impact. “For me personally, issues of homelessness and the disenfranchised speak to me,” Adamucci shares in explaining his giving philosophy.

“Everybody has a right to a safe place at night, to have food to eat, and the opportunity to change their lives for the better.”

By sharing his time, talent, and treasure (and by encouraging others to do the same) he has assisted in building new facilities for food banks, Union Gospel Missions, a drug rehab center, YMCA , HeadStart, and Catholic Charities. He has served as the chairman of several capital campaigns including one for his church, Unity of Bellevue that raised $800,000, and another for FareStart that raised $12.5 million for a new restaurant/training facility.

He also holds governing board positions with FareStart and Rainier Scholars (a college prep program for underserved youth of color) as well as advisory board positions with Treehouse (a resource for foster children), and the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center. While giving back has always been important to him, the profitable sale of his company allowed his philanthropic talents to move to a whole new level. In 1994, Adamucci moved to Seattle where he met his wife (and charitable partner) Janette through a blind date set up by mutual friends.

Megan Karch, CEO of FareStart, is one of the Seattle non-profits organizers who is happy to have Adamucci in Seattle. She first met him when he came in for a Guest Chef Night at FareStart. “He left a tip that I noticed,” she jokes. He has since become an invaluable member of the FareStart family.

Adamucci didn’t begin life with the ability to write large checks for charity. He came from a working class family that instilled upon him the value of volunteering time. “Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money, but Mom and Dad always found ways to help. Then when I went on to Saint Francis, I found the same service philosophy,” Adamucci shares

Finding his way to Saint Francis College
College wasn’t the obvious path for Adamucci. He was a middle of the road student at Father Judge High School for boys in urban Philadelphia. No one in his family had ever gone to college and no one at his school really pushed the matter. Still Adamucci knew that he was meant to be college-bound.

The school counselor simply handed him a thick book filled with text-listings of potential colleges. As he was going through this tedious search process, he found a sheet with a simple grid. Saint Francis College, as it was then known, “hit all of my checkboxes.” It was co-ed (a big plus after attending an all-boys school), it was Catholic, and it was out of town. “I love my family, but I was ready for an adventure.” So the adventure began as Adamucci enrolled without even visiting campus. “As soon as I arrived on campus, I felt like I belonged,” he recalls.

Saint Francis College proved the perfect place for Adamucci to develop his leadership and entrepreneurial skills along with healthy philanthropic interests. “I had great learning opportunities on campus and my interest in fundraising grew after joining the campus-based Stokes Foundation,” he shares. Maurice Stokes ’55 was an all-star college basketball player, turned pro, who suffered a paralyzing brain injury on the court. 

Eventually Adamucci became chair of the foundation that was created after Stokes’ accident. One of his best college memories was meeting Stokes when he returned to campus.

Cochairs of Stokes Foundation 1966
Co-Chairmen of the Maurice Stokes Foundation: 
T. McLoughlin ’67, J. Quaid ’66, and W. Adamucci ’66 pose with Maurice

After graduating with top honors in the economics department at Saint Francis, he went on to earn an MBA in Finance at Babson College

Read more about Bill Adamucci's time at Saint Francis College: Spring/Summer 2014 Saint Francis University Magazine