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Donor Spotlight: Dick and Michelle Fairbanks

Updated: May 31, 2023


Dick and Michelle Fairbanks have been longtime supporters of the Cape & Islands United Way, in several capacities. From Dick’s involvement as a board member and chair to Michelle’s generous event contributions through her floral business, Bouquet to Go, the Fairbanks family has been part of the fabric of the United Way community for more than 20 years, And according to Dick, they’re here to stay.


How and when did you become a supporter?


I had three close friends that were all involved with the Cape & Islands United Way: Rick Angelini, Tony Shepley, David Scudder and Rick Penn. They said, “You know, you ought to join us; you’d be great.” And to be honest, I did kind of drag my feet at the beginning; it just seemed like another of many commitments. But soon after at a social event when I was still undecided, my wife said to Rich Brothers (the Cape & Islands United Way CEO at the time), “Don’t worry. You’ll get him. I’ll see to that.” And she kept her word.


This was all around 2003 — hard to believe that was 20 years ago. I became a board member, then I was the fundraising chair, and several years later I became board chair. And after my chairmanship term was up, I stayed on the board for several more years. And I think it's fair to say that while I was the official member, so to speak, our longtime commitment to the United Way has been — and still is — a family engagement.


In your opinion, what is the most important work that we're doing?


One of my largest life lessons was realizing just how many nice people there are around the world, doing nice things for other people. The United Way has a way of introducing you to those people, including the charitable organizations who work so hard to make life better for others. It’s inspiring to see happen, up close.

I think the most important work the United Way does is to continue to fund organizations which might not have the horsepower to do it on their own. The United Way is an enormously efficient and high integrity organization, and the community investment piece of the mission is very robust. No donor ever needs to worry whether or not their funds are going to the right place, or will be treated correctly.


We raise funds with the support of people who want to make a difference, and we give it to people who are going to make a difference.

Is there any contribution or achievement of which you are most proud?


It was very meaningful for us to be one of the first four founders. It was us, the Shepleys, the Nixons and the Brennans. The original founder obligation was $5,000 a year for five years. I think we may now be in our third or fourth series of that. It is a privilege to be a Founder, and a lot of fun to be one of the first four.


What compels you to give year after year?


Simply put, nothing has changed my mind! The need is still there, and the Cape & Island United Way still sees to it that our money is used to make a difference in our community. We are fortunate to be able to afford this, and the organization is still one of great energy and integrity. Why would I stop?

Is there anything that you hope that the organization will achieve in the future?


I'm very optimistic about the future of the organization. I think there's great energy, and I feel things are still moving in the right direction. It will be important to continue to focus on our core mission, because there is so much to do — but there are only so many things you can do well. Really, that is a big part of what attracts me to the organization. The Cape & Islands United Way knows where it's going. It stays on track it stays on mission and makes a difference.



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