Philanthropy through social activism
Submitted by David Moshier
Dr. Walter and Lalita Janke have built a successful life through perseverance and hard work. Two immigrants who came to this country with nothing but their drive and social consciousness have worked tirelessly to create a better world.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals Indian River Chapter (AFPIR) honored the Jankes as this year's Outstanding Individual Philanthropists during the National Philanthropy Day celebration at the Vero Beach Museum of Art: Where Philanthropy Comes to Life.
The AFPIR promotes philanthropy by supporting the profession of fundraising through chapter membership scholarships for new and current members to attend professional development workshops. The Jankes were nominated for the honor by Camp Haven and selected by an independent judging panel from the First Coast Chapter of AFP in Jacksonville, Fla.
Many philanthropists write a check and some even call in personal favors to raise funds, but not many exhibit the personal devotion and sacrifice of the Jankes. Through both their foundation and individual good works, the two focus their energies on strengthening and sustaining organizations that make a difference in the lives of marginalized women and girls and abused children as well as the homeless.
“Writing checks for thousands of dollars did not come easy for us as first-generation immigrants, but it became easier when we saw the impact that our contributions had on lives, and it spurred us on to give even more,” shared Lalita.
Over the years, the couple has supported nonprofit missions financially as well as through sweat equity of their time and expertise. Since Lalita and Dr. Janke, moved to Vero Beach in 1996, their philanthropy has touched countless people on local, regional and global levels. Working through the Walter and Lalita Janke Charitable Foundation, they have provided significant funding for a wide variety of humanitarian initiatives. They gave the Substance Awareness Center of Indian River County their first home for women recovering from drug and alcohol dependencies and provided a matching grant for the purchase of a second home.
The couple partnered with the Hibiscus Children’s Center to provide scholarships and address the needs of foster children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned, and who have aged out of the program. Ann Decker, Executive Director of the Indian River State College Foundation, wrote, “Dr. and Mrs. Janke have a keen ability for identifying those individuals to assist who may otherwise fall through the cracks. Students are blessed by the establishment of an endowed scholarship that will live on in perpetuity.”
In 2015, their million-dollar donation established the Walter and Lalita Janke Innovations in Sustainability Science Research Fund, inspiring other donors to establish similar grants. Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Dean of College of Arts and Letters Michael J. Horswell wrote, “Since 2006 the Jankes’ philanthropic support has included creating graduate fellowships within the FAU Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies; multi-year funding to launch FAU’s Peace, Justice and Human Rights Initiative, as well as many other program areas. We remain grateful to both Walter and Lalita for the impact their time, wisdom and financial support have had on our students, faculty and external community. Many lives have been touched by their generosity.”
Through her work as the US National Committee for UN Women president, Lalita is deeply committed to empowering women to take the necessary steps to effect change in themselves and their communities. These projects promote social, political and economic equality for women and girls spanning 100 countries around the globe.
Each year the pair volunteers with the Peruvian Medical Association and are part of their medical missions teams in Peru. After a devastating earthquake, Dr. Janke also helped open a medical clinic in Chincha, Peru. The couple supports five schools for children in Bangladesh. They founded a free medical center for women and children focusing on preventive care. Now over 1,000 people receive free medical care each month. For her community involvement, Lalita was named the 2014 Woman of the Year and Volunteer of the Year by the Junior League of Indian River County.
“Philanthropy starts from the heart and the more we gave, the more excited we got to give more to the charities that were in alignment with what we wanted to do. It is immensely satisfying to work with charities that touch our hearts and recharge our batteries,” shared Lalita.
The Jankes embody the characteristics of real philanthropists as they quietly go about the business of helping those less fortunate than themselves. Their desire to promote the welfare of others has set the bar high as they have donated large sums of money and gotten their hands “dirty” volunteering and raising money for the betterment of humanity.
They embody a love of humanity through both tangible and emotional means by improving the quality of life of others through physical and cerebral nourishment. Their approach is to relieve social problems by addressing the root cause.
Which is precisely what the Jankes do in their work with homeless men in Indian River County. Living at Camp Haven, these men are motivated to put in the work necessary to change the trajectory of their lives and have a safe haven to do so. The Jankes spearheaded and developed the unique program of transformation at Camp Haven. It’s not just a shelter or Band-Aid but a rigorous program demanding committed self-work in an environment of accountability and tough love.
More than 150 financially destitute, emotionally broken, desolate men have received shelter, security and stability in the transitional residential program since January 15, 2014. Thousands of hours of education, counseling and therapy have been invested in their future. The Jankes have changed the lives of not only these men but have also positively impacted the lives of their families and the community as a whole.
“Walter and Lalita Janke have poured their talent, treasure, strength, courage and an unmeasurable amount of time to assure the success of Camp Haven, caring for broken men in need of shelter, food, counseling, jobs, guidance and life skills training,” says Jim Kerns, Camp Haven board member. “They have established a new paradigm for giving and set an example for others to follow.
Besides donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to Camp Haven, the couple has logged thousands of hours of volunteer time, intimately involved in every facet of Camp Haven. Additionally, they reach into the community inviting and inspiring others to support and sustain Camp Haven as a community project.
“When we’re young, we think that we will be rich if we have money. Now I feel that we are rich because we can give money that impacts and improves the conditions of people locally and globally,” shared Lalita. Summing up their belief in philanthropy as both a duty and honor, she shared an old proverb, “If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, create good fortune for others.”
Lalita Janke and Dr. Walter Janke (photo courtesy of TCCH)
David Moshier, Dr. Walter and Lalita Janke (photo by Maureen Nicolace)
2017 NPD Award recipients: (Front) Dale Sr. and Matilda Sorensen, Outstanding Corporate Philanthropist; Barbara Lowry, Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser; Dick and Chris Picken, Unsung Hero; (Back) Dr. Walter and Lalita Jenke, Outstanding Philanthropist; Denise Battaglini, Suzanne Carter, and Suzanne Bertman, representing Indian River IMPACT 100, Outstanding Group Supporting Philanthropy (photo by Maureen Nicolace)
Camp Haven Program Director Jermey Gable (far left) and Lalita Janke with some of the men of Camp Haven (Photo by David Moshier)
Janke Foundation Spearheads Renovation at Camp Haven
Vero Beach - August 2017. Thanks in large part to the generous support of the Janke Foundation, the renovation of eight additional transitional housing units is almost compleated at Camp Haven, Indian River County's transitional housing program for homeless men, located on US 1 near Aviation Boulevard. The efficiency units will be available to men who have completed Phase I at Camp Haven and are ready to take the next step toward living independently.
According to Brego Construction Corp. Owner Pablo Bregolat, renovations are 90 percent done. The plumbing, framing, carpentry, electrical drywall and tile have been installed, and finishing touches, inspections, and amenities need only be completed.
In the past two years, over 100 men have successfully transformed their lives through the support of Camp Haven. The completion of additional housing will allow the nonprofit to move forward with Phase II: The Pathway to Self-Sufficiency program, the next step for men who are committed to rising out of homelessness.
During Phase I, Camp Haven provides shelter, food, clothing, vocational training, counseling and life skills classes for the men. Of those who have participated in the transitional housing program, 90 percent have found jobs and are now productive members of the community.
The men's success rate is due in part to Camp Haven's program and process of accountability. They receive individual and group counseling, job and educational assistance, drug screenings and budget training. When the men have graduated from Phase I and are ready to go out on their own, Phase II of the program will allow them to take on more independence while continuing to receive the guidance and support they need to make their final transition back into society. Lalita Janke is the Executive Director of Camp Haven and has been the chief architect of their program.
In a few weeks, the renovations for Phase II programs will be complete, and Camp Haven will be able to bring hope and restoration to more men in the community. To learn more about the program and how you can help, call 772-999-3625 or visit CampHaven.net.
Jim Kerns, Claude and Pat Hessee, Jim Schorner and Lalita Janke
with Brego Construction Corp. Owner Pablo Bregolat
As seen in TCPalm
'Dream Chasers' learn about life from Zombie Apocalypse
VERO BEACH -- Lalita Janke, co-founder of the Walter and Lalita Janke Charitable Foundation, saw motivational speaker Devin “Egypt” Robinson X interact with students in a Houston high school and knew she wanted to bring him to Vero Beach to speak to local youth.
Egypt, as he is more popularly known, is a world-renowned Actor/Activist, author, artists, play write and can be seen on BET, MTV, TEDx and ESPN 2. When Egypt came to Florida to participate in the South Florida Youth Summit in Fort Lauderdale, Janke sponsored him to speak to students in Indian River County.
Freddie Woolfork, Lalita Janke, Devin 'Egypt' Robinson and Angelia Perry.(Photo: Provided)
“He is the kind of young man we want our children and grandchildren to emulate,” said Janke. “Nothing has come easy for him with the exception of his talent. He has polished his skills with hard work, a strong will and the drive to be somebody that would have motivated him as a child when he was struggling with doing the right things for the right reasons.”
On May 19, Egypt spoke to the Gifford Youth Achievement Center students and the visit was amazing from the beginning. He grabbed the teens’ attention immediately using humor in a high-energy style similar to Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock.
The students were expecting to see a typical motivational speaker so their interest was piqued when he immediately selected five students to portray blind zombies and three to be survivors. Students laughed as their schoolmates became “walking dead” arranged in an obstacle course pattern blocking the exit which was the survivors’ goal. Unfortunately, all the survivors were “eaten” but after the laughter subsided the audience offered suggestions on how to achieve different outcomes.
“This exercise is an analogy of life,” Egypt told the students. “Someone may tell you there’s one way to get over an obstacle but there’s multiple ways to do it. You are all blessed with brilliance and critical thinking. That’s what makes you special.”
Egypt encouraged the students to use their brains—and their iPhones, to find the information they needed. He said the tools to accomplish their goals could be easily googled. He encouraged the students to start to plan today for their future by researching everything including the schools they will need to apply to while attending GYAC to make tomorrow’s dreams a reality.
“I went from being orphaned at 12-years-old and being counted out to being honored by someone at the United Nations,” said Egypt. “People told me I wasn’t worth anything and there is nothing I could do about that but the last part of the story is what you think of yourself. One of the most defining equalizers is education. You have to look into the future and see you are going to be great!”
Gifford Youth Achievement Center is grateful to Mrs. Janke for inviting Egypt to impart his vast range of experiences to the students to encourage them to reach for their dreams as they work to graduate.
GYAC is located at 4875 43rd Avenue and its information may be viewed on their website www.GYAC.net or by calling 772-794-1005.
Devin 'Egypt' Robinson speaks to the 'Dream Chasers' at the Gifford Youth Achievement Center. (Photo: Provided)
Treasure Coast Community Health recognizes the generosity of the Janke Foundation on a postcard mailed to thousands of residents
Hundreds of Vero Beach Residents Kick Off Women's History Month 2016 at Tiger Lily Art Studio & Gallary
in support of the U.S. National Committee for UN Women
March 2016, Vero Beach, FL – Every year, Tiger Lily Art Studio & Gallery holds an annual showing of art done by local Vero Beach artists. To commemorate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, the show’s theme this year was all about women.
Titled, ‘Joie de Vivre’ (the joys of life), the show featured paintings and ceramic sculptures by local female artists that depicted the celebration of women as well as the challenges they face. Hundreds of people poured in and meaningful conversations were started, as visitors thoughtfully observed the powerful and emotionally inducing works of art around the room.
As part of their yearly tradition, the Gallery donates a portion of all proceeds to a charity of their choice. This year, they have chosen the East Florida Chapter of the U.S. National Committee for UN Women (USNC). When asked why they chose this organization in particular, the Gallery’s Co-owner and founder, Shotsi Cain Lajoie responded, “USNC plays a vital role in the enhancement of equality, safety and education in countries of the world where women do not receive access to those basic rights.”
The U.S. National Committee for UN Women’s president, Lalita Janke, reiterated this sentiment by stating, “Our goal is to pave the way for women today and future generations to come, by supporting UN Women’s initiatives that advocates gender equality, fights against gender-based violence and positions all women to achieve the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.”
“We are so thankful that Tiger Lily Art Studio & Gallery is supporting our efforts to accomplish this mission,” she added.
To learn more about the U.S. National Committee for UN Women, visit www.unwomen-usnc.org.
FAU receives $1 Million Sustainable Energy Donation from Janke Foundation
December 3, 2015: Florida Atlantic University recently received a $1 million gift from Dr. Walter and Lalita Janke to establish the Walter and Lalita Janke Innovations in Sustainability Science Research Fund, which will support faculty research that advances knowledge and applications relevant for improving environmental sustainability.
The fund will be administered by the Center for Environmental Studies (CES) at FAU and will promote an annual $50,000 competitive research grant to a faculty researcher or research team at FAU. CES at FAU, which advances Florida’s sustainability by seeding collaborative research, education, and community engagement activities, has already leveraged additional resources for this competition, bringing the amount available in 2016 to $70,000.
“We are extremely grateful to Dr. and Mrs. Janke for their generosity and commitment to supporting sustainability research at Florida Atlantic University,” said Colin Polsky, Ph.D., director of CES at FAU and a professor of geosciences in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. “I can think of no environmental challenge more pressing for society to resolve than renewable energy and improving our current energy efficiency. With this grant we will be able to leverage additional funding and support for research in this and other environmental research fields, such as wetlands ecology and coastal resilience, to engage our faculty and students from all colleges in the university.”
It is projected that 9 billion people will inhabit the Earth by 2050. Supporting this population will require sustainability innovations that build on the expertise and knowledge from not only the hard sciences but also the behavioral and social sciences, and the arts and humanities. The research focus of the Walter and Lalita Janke Innovations in Sustainability Science Research Fund will initially support innovative proposals that advance knowledge and applications on renewable energy and energy efficiency, conservation biology, urban area sea-level rise impacts and responses, energy-wildlife interactions, and wetlands biogeochemistry, among other fields.
“Sustainability is an immense challenge for society, but it also offers us tremendous opportunities to make a contribution to something that will have an extraordinary impact on our everyday lives,” said Walter Janke, M.D. “Lalita and I are extremely pleased to establish this fund in perpetuity to support important sustainability and renewable energy research at Florida Atlantic University.”
The Jankes were profoundly inspired by the book, “Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think,” and their journey to dedicating resources to sustainability came to fruition shortly after reading this book.
Their philanthropic and humanitarian endeavors extend beyond their commitment to sustainability and renewable energy. They established Camp Haven in Indian River County, which serves as a transitional home that provides supportive living opportunities and education to adults rising out of homelessness.
“We are delighted to continue our support of vital programs at Florida Atlantic University, and I invite others to help us with this important mission that will impact us not just locally but globally,” said Lalita Janke, who also is a member of FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters Advisory Board and FAU’s Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Advisory Council, as well as a former member of FAU’s Board of Trustees. “Our interdisciplinary approach with this endowment will bring the university together to transform lives in a very real way.”
A selection committee will soon be established to review successful proposals for the inaugural Walter and Lalita Janke Innovations in Sustainability Science Research Fellowships. Several awards will be made, of varying levels. Successful proposals will support a feasible study on a compelling environmental problem, and include a plan for how to translate this seed funding into other funding once the project is completed. The winning proposal will be selected in early 2016 for research to commence as early as summer.
The Jankes with FAU president, Dr. John Kelly, at Rice game
Lalita Janke at FAU film and discussion, Girl Rising
October 24, 2015: Lalita Janke represents the U.S. National Committee for UN Women at Florida Atlantic University's film/discussion
on the film, "Girl Rising," hosted by the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department. With her are Lisa Armbrust, CWGSS Advisory
Council Co-chair, Dr. Josephine Beoku-Betts, Senator Nan Rich, Sue Banks, N.O.W., and Skeets Friedkin, CWGSS Advisory Council Co-chair.
Celebrating a Graduation at Camp Haven, Inc.
October 2015: The Jankes and Camp Haven participants celebrate a graduation!
The Janke Foundation donates to Chincha Clinic in Peru
The Jankes Raise Awareness in Peru: UN Women 'HeForShe' Initiative
Dr. & Mrs. Janke Talk Camp Haven, Inc.
December 12, 2014 - Vero Beach, FL - Rhett Palmer of "Rhett Palmer Talk Live" radio show interviews
Dr. Walter H. Janke and Lalita Janke about Camp Haven, Inc., Indian River County's transitional residence for area homeless and at-risk men.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN
Camp Haven Resident Awarded "2014 Student Entrepreneur of the Year!"
December 1, 2014 - Vero Beach, FL: (Pictured L-R): Dr. Janke, Wil Harris (recipient), IRSC rep and
Camp Haven's board president, Lalita Janke congratulates Wil on all of his hardwork,
dedication and focus that has led him to this very moment.
Orphanage in Peru Receives Donation from Janke Foundation