May 24, 2022
At ECCF’s 2022 Celebration, community celebrates giving in all its forms

Salem’s Steve and Darcy Immerman, Lynn’s Doneeca Thurston and MakeIt Haverhill all honored

Every day, people make intentional choices to give to the causes they care about. Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF) believes that those gifts come in many forms.

You might volunteer at a food pantry, use your life experience and skills to mentor youth or join a board, or write a check to a local nonprofit in need of funding.

On May 19 at ECCF’s 8th annual Celebration of Giving, more than 300 people gathered – both in person at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly and via livestream – to recognize that all of these acts contribute meaningfully to the overall health and strength of our communities.

“When you think about giving in this this way, the truth is that so many of us are philanthropists,” said ECCF Board Chair John Colucci. “I encourage you at some point this morning to take a look at the people seated around you. Chances are each one of them has given of themselves by generously offering their time, talent or treasure.”

During the event, ECCF highlighted several Essex County individuals and organizations that embody what Colucci called the “triad of philanthropy.”

Doneeca Thurston, executive director of Lynn Museum/Lynn Arts, was recognized as a Champion for Essex County for her work as a creative leader, social activist and thoughtful mentor of Lynn-area youth.

“I am so thankful to be able to do the work that I do,” said Thurston via video message. “Special shout out to my family and to my community for shaping me as a young person and really instilling in me the value of paying it forward, especially within your home community.”

“Thank you for this incredible honor,” she said. “There are so many people throughout Essex County that do incredible work, day in and day out, so special round of applause to everyone that is here and everyone that continues to do the work to make change happen in Essex County.”

MakeIt Haverhill, a completely volunteer-run organization focusing on innovative workforce development solutions for residents of the Mount Washington neighborhood, was also recognized as a Champion for Essex County.

“First of all, this is great,” said Tim Haynes, MakeIt Haverhill’s digital literacy and equity program leader, who accepted the award alongside Christine Kwitchoff, the organization’s workforce development lead. “I want to give a big, big thanks to Kate [Machet] and ECCF for all of their incredible support as we just started our digital equity journey about a year ago, and their support has been incredible.”

“We want equity and inclusion for all Haverhill residents and for communities everywhere,” Haynes continued. “And as long as we can make a difference by giving our time and our love, we will lift up our neighbors. So, thank you very much.”

Salem residents Steve and Darcy Immerman were presented with ECCF’s 2022 George Peabody Award for their combined philanthropic impact across Essex County. Together, the couple has touched dozens of local nonprofit organizations – including The Cabot, Salem Athenaeum, Northeast Arc, ECCF and many more – with financial support, but also with their ability to innovate, think strategically and inspire others. They have also passed on their values of giving back to their son, Eric, who volunteers and serves on ECCF’s NextGen committee.

“For the Immermans, their philanthropy shines brightest through the time, energy and sweat equity they devote to the causes they care about,” said ECCF President and CEO Beth Francis. “The impact they continue to make will no doubt have a lasting effect on the communities here in Essex County.”

“I want to thank our really good friends at ECCF for this recognition,” said Steve Immerman. “It’s very meaningful, even more meaningful to see it all assembled in one place. You don’t really think about it on a day-to-day basis. But we really appreciate it. But even more so, we are incredibly honored and privileged to be representatives of the literally tens of thousand of people in Essex County that give of their, not ‘time, talent, treasure.’ I like ‘work, wisdom, wealth.’”

“There are thousands, tens of thousands, that make our communities more equitable, more just, more beautiful, heathier,” he continued. “So, our deep appreciation to all of you who help make our community a better place in which to live. Thank you very much.”

To commemorate their award, Immerman family friend and Gloucester artist Loren Doucette was on hand at the Celebration to capture the spirit of the event by painting it in real time and gifting the finished piece to the couple.

“I love the title of today: Celebration,” said Stratton Lloyd, ECCF’s executive vice president and COO, during his remarks.  “For me this event is really a celebration of great stories, like those we heard of individuals and organizations. But really for me, it’s a celebration of the possibilities and the opportunity in Essex County and that’s what today is about.”

To learn more about the incredible work of our honorees, view their video stories at, where you can also watch a recording of the entire Celebration of Giving event and see the list of sponsors who make meaningful events like this possible.

About ECCF

The mission of Essex County Community Foundation is to inspire philanthropy that strengthens the communities of Essex County. We do this by managing charitable assets, strengthening and supporting nonprofits and engaging in strategic community leadership. Since 1998, ECCF and its growing family of nearly 260 charitable funds have granted $106 million to nonprofits, schools and students in Essex County and beyond. Our ultimate goal is to have 34 thriving cities and towns in Essex County and to improve the quality of life for the region’s nearly 800,000 residents. Learn more at





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