Meet David Altman, 53, the 2019 president of The Huntington Townwide Fund.
The project: Started in 1961, The Huntington Townwide Fund was originally affiliated with United Way, which is a national organization. That affiliation ended at least 20 years ago, but the Fund continued on, the premise being that the money we raise in Huntington stays in Huntington. Over the last two or three years we’ve given out grant money to 35 different organizations.
As an all-volunteer organization, everybody here is there to help those most in need in our town and make life better for all. To the extent that I can help and the Fund can help, we do so.
I like to say that we’ve done our job if we’re out of business. I don’t want to have to help anybody, we’d love to have a society where everybody is able to care for themselves and provide for themselves. Unfortunately that’s just not the case, so we’re here to help.
The Fund hosts a number of different events. Coming up is our Townwide Fund Gala at Oheka Castle, with a Mardi Gras theme. We’ll have anywhere from 200 to 300 people, depending on the number on honorees. We have a golf event in May, then we typically have a bit of a summertime lull. This year we’re going to try something new to fill that summertime gap: a beach party event called “Bagels and Bloodies.” People can come down on a Saturday with the family to the beach and have brunch with live music. We also have a St. Patrick’s Day run, which we’ve renamed “Hartigan’s Run” for our longest-serving member, Bea Hartigan. She’s been with the Fund since the early seventies. We did a comedy night this past September at the Engeman. It was a big success, so we’ll do that again next year. Our biggest event is usually our Thanksgiving Day Run. I’m truly impressed with everybody who came to the event this year, since it was brutally cold. We had somewhere between 1,500 and 1,700 show of the 2,200 who registered. That was pretty impressive.
How did you get started?: I’ve been a member of the Fund for 5 years now. My business partner, Keith Brown, was actively involved with the Fund for years, and still is. He went to meetings on a monthly basis and one day I just asked, “What are you up to?” He described the Fund’s mission, and I got involved as a result. Now, I’m the incoming president for 2019. A couple of my colleagues asked if I wanted to be president, and I said yes. Why not? It’s an all-volunteer organization for a great cause. You didn’t have to twist my arm.
What has been your biggest achievement or takeaway from volunteering so far?: A year or two ago there was a local thrift store in Huntington that was burglarized just before Christmas. A lot of toys designated for kids were stolen. We stepped in and gave them $10,000 in emergency funds to replace everything. You never know what’s going to come across your desk.
Occasionally we get to see where the dollars go and who benefits from them, and that’s always very rewarding. When we hand out the grant checks to people who run the organizations, the look of gratitude is overwhelming. It makes a big difference to them.
Anything else you’d like to add: It’s incumbent on all of us who live in Huntington and have the wherewithal to help make life better for those who don’t. To the extent people can look kindly on The Townwide Fund and help those support those most in need, they should.
Links for more information: For more information about The Townwide Fund’s events, or to get involved as a volunteer, visit their website at http://www.townwidefund.org/
This is part of a continuing series of stories about those who volunteer their time to make Huntington a better place to live.