Community leader’ honoured for good works
A cedar tree has been planted in honour of “community leader” Jim Butterfield at a ceremony to mark National Philanthropy Day.
The annual event by the Bermuda chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) recognises humanitarian efforts and accomplishments within our community and worldwide.
Mr Butterfield cut ground at Paget Marsh yesterday morning, a site chosen by the Bermuda National Trust, to plant a tree “that can grow and flourish”.
He has planted many cedar trees — about ten acres on Long Island — and told The Royal Gazette: “I do it a lot on weekends, but not on a weekday.
“We must have done 80 or 90 cedars — it’s a fun thing to do. I’m not unaccustomed to doing it but I’m certainly not accustomed to getting the recognition for doing it.”
Jennifer Burland Adams, AFP Bermuda’s president, described Mr Butterfield as a “triple threat”, adding: “He is generous with his time, talent and treasure, often eschewing recognition when he give to causes important to our community, on a large and small scale.”
Mr Butterfield comes from a line of givers. His father donated money to various causes, schools and the Salvation Army.
“When my brother and I took over the business we made a real effort to make sure to always set aside stuff for giving,” he said. “We don’t rush up to the press every time we give a student a cheque to go away to school. I was privileged enough to have my education paid for by my father but I make a real habit now of trying to support students when they aren’t able to go away to school to college or university.
“As I rode my bike over to the park I thought, ‘This is so against what I believe in because for years we’ve been doing this, but we do it quietly’.
“When we hit the downturn in 2008 — my son Spencer is now in the business with me — I said, ‘Let’s not cut back on our giving’. So we cut a lot of other things, like expenses in running the business, but we made an effort, because now the requests are greater than they ever were.
“It’s the paradox of all this. When things are buoyant everyone’s good and there’s not so much need. When things are bad, then there’s a great deal of need, but people are hard pressed to find the extra.
“So we’ve been quietly doing it for a while and I was very humbled and a little bit embarrassed almost to be called aside.
“I am very moved by a particular individual that I know. She has very little but she’s always giving, that just is amazing. I always think of her. There’s someone who has very little, but always has a little bit to give away to help other people, and that’s when giving is at its best.
“I’ve often said it’s not what you give, it’s what you have left over after you’ve given. And most of us in the Western world, I’m sure, have lots to give.”
The AFP describes philanthropy as “not just financial giving”, but including volunteering and charitable engagement.
The Bermuda chapter was hoping to use National Philanthropy Day to “highlight the accomplishments, large and small, that philanthropy — and all those involved in the philanthropic process — makes to our Bermuda community and our world”.
Ms Burland Adams said: “The money that Mr Butterfield has donated over the years to non-profit organisations has been money that has been used to grow programmes and help countless charities that thousands of Bermudians have benefited from.
“We thank him for his commitment to Bermuda’s charitable sector.
“We may never know the extent of Jim’s philanthropy in Bermuda, but I believe it is safe to say that his generosity touches thousands of Bermudians each day.
“We are grateful to Jim for his willingness to help us in celebrating National Philanthropy Day in Bermuda by honouring his good work and dedication to philanthropy.”
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