It takes much more than means and generosity to make a philanthropist great. A great one doesn’t merely donate funds. He or she measures need and potential impact and invests in causes in a way that turns lives around and strengthens communities for generations. He or she remains involved long after writing a check.
Mary Jane Pitts O’Neill of Fredericksburg fits that description to a T.
She was honored as the Germanna Community College Educational Foundation’s Distinguished Philanthropist of the Year for 2019 during a dinner at Stevenson’s Ridge in Spotsylvania County before a crowd of 150 admirers.
The award has been given since 2009 for exemplary service to the community over an extended period of time.
Dr. Janet Gullickson, president of Germanna, said O’Neill is strategic and savvy in her decisions about giving: “Mary Jane O’Neill is the best example of a philanthropist in her targeted, strategic and effective generosity. She doesn’t throw money at causes but, rather, invests in cures.”
GCC Educational Foundation head Bruce L. Davis said O’Neill‘s philanthropy is a natural extension of her kind personality: “Mary Jane is the most wonderfully thoughtful person in our community. She has spent a lifetime making the Fredericksburg area a better place to live through her gifts of time and treasure.”
“As someone fortunate enough to have a front row seat for some of the most selfless acts of charity in our region, I can say confidently that there are very few people more generous than Mary Jane O’Neill,” said Teri McNally, executive director at the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region. “Her wide range of philanthropic interest has been one of the most impactful in our community. It is a pleasure to see her gifts in action.”
Past winners of the Germanna Distinguished Philanthropist of the Year award include Adam and Rhonda Fried, Mary Wynn and Charles G. McDaniel, Connie Kincheloe, Kent Farmer, Fred Rankin, Ed Dalrymple, Ed Allison, Sen. John Chichester and Dr. Jane Ingalls.