Rhode Island philanthropist hungry to make a difference
KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 19, 2002 -- He has lived in the same seven-room ranch in Cranston, Rhode Island for the past 35 years. His car is 12 years old.
His name isnt Rockefeller, Carnegie or Trump, yet Alan Shawn Feinstein is a multi-millionaire without all the trappings. His beneficiaries are the citizens of Rhode Island and hungry people everywhere.
Feinstein recalls that the impetus for helping others and eliminating hunger came during the 1970s.
"One day a social worker invited me to see a bread line in Providence," he says. "I remember it well. The weather was dismal, yet people were standing in the drenching rain in a line that stretched around the block. All those people just waiting for a day old loaf of bread
That day Feinstein entered the battle to end hunger with his heart and his checkbook.
Feinsteins grass-roots effort he has one part-time assistanthas helped raise awareness and $190 million during the last five years alone for more than 3,000 anti-hunger agencies, churches and synagogues nationwide who have used his fundraising challenge to spur action by their own donors. His effort has also altered the culture of Rhode Island school students from kindergarten to graduate school for whom helping others has become a way of life.
Feinsteins latest weapon in the war on hunger is to donate $5 for every person who clicks on his www.helpthehungry.org web site, up to a total of $1-million. At the end of the year, the Feinstein Foundation will total the number of people who have clicked on its web site and offer that money to anti-hunger agencies for their fundraising efforts.
Not everyone in this materialistic world understands how a man who could easily own an expensive car, a mansion or two, or the worlds biggest yacht would choose to live so modestly.
"This is more satisfying to me," says the 70-year-old philanthropist who remains listed in the phone book. "I prefer that money goes to people who need it. I dont think its rare. People do what satisfies them. This satisfies me," says Feinstein.
The philanthropist established a hunger center at the University of Rhode Island in 1999. One of the centers primary goals is to develop lifelong anti-hunger advocates by offering students a hunger studies minor which gives them exposure to issues of hunger and an opportunity for personal involvement through service learning activities, research and outreach.
Feinsteins other hunger relief efforts include the establishment of an international famine center at Tufts University and a scholarship program at Johnson & Wales University for students who complete outstanding projects to alleviate hunger.
As a former public school teacher, Feinstein understands the importance of children developing self-esteem. "Self esteem can be achieved by helping others. Children, as young as they are, can see that they can make a difference in someones life," Feinstein says. "And, when encouraged to do so, they respond enthustically."
More than 95 percent of all elementary schoolchildren, representing every Rhode Island city and town, have participated in the "Feinstein Good Deeds" Program, which promotes the values of kindness. Teachers and children, encouraged by Feinstein, think out ways to help others and record those efforts in keepsake good deed journals provided by the philanthropist.
Here are other examples of Feinsteins impact on schoolchildren:
o A "Youth Hunger Brigade" program that has involved more than 80 junior high and middle schools in Rhode Island. The program encourages students to study hunger and design projects for their communities to combat it.
o More than 400 students are enrolled in Feinstein High School in Providence, the first public high school in the country where community service is an integral part of the curriculum.
o Feinstein Institute for Public Service at Providence College offers the first undergraduate degree program in public and community service.
o The Feinstein Enriching America Program is a mandatory course in community service at the following six R.I. higher education institutions: University of Rhode Island, Johnson & Wales University, New England Institute of Technology, Salve Regina University, Rhode Island College and Roger Williams University.
o A $3-million endowed memorial scholarship fund established by Feinstein in honor of his father for college-bound students who best exemplify the values of brotherhood, caring, leadership, and service to the community. Every Feinstein Scholar who attends a Rhode Island college receives $10,000.
Feinstein taught in public schools in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and established an English school in Thailand. He later entered the business world, starting a financial advisory newsletter that reached 500,000 subscribers. In addition, he authored several best-selling financial guides and books. His wife, Dr. Pat Feinstein, is a child psychiatrist. The couple has three children.
Looking back, Feinstein notes with pride the number of young people who have become committed to community service and fighting hunger from his efforts. "Now then, why would I want to trade in all that for a big house?"
For Information: Jan Wenzel, 401-874-2116