After nearly three decades of cultivating the growth of charitable causes, the Martin County Community Foundation is ready to “make it rain” for a select few non-profits.

You’re wealthy. Fabulously wealthy. With more money than you can possibly spend. But, you don’t want to spend it all. You want to give some of it away. A lot of it, in fact.

Not to just anyone, however. To an organization whose mission you admire, whose efforts remain relevant and bold, yet attainable, and whose history demonstrates solvency and reliability. Whether quietly or to carry forward your legacy, you want to give big. But responsibly and with purpose. It’s what you truly believe is right. And you’re in the blessed position to do so.

It has been 11 years since beloved entertainer and philanthropist Frances Langford passed away. Her memory and legacy remain strong as our community continues to benefit from her vision and generosity through the Langford Fund for Martin County, the newest named fund under the direction of the Martin County Community Foundation. Elizabeth Barbella, MCCF Executive Director,  will welcome all Martin County non-profit CEO’s, Executive and Development Directors to a coffee reception at 10 a.m. on October 14 at the Dolphin Bar in Jensen Beach to introduce The  Langford Fund and to present guidelines for the 2017 grant applications. The Martin County Community Foundation was recently honored to receive $7.7 million from the Langford Trust to provide funding in perpetuity to organizations and causes most dear to Ms. Langford, who gave $26 million, directly to Martin County charities in the decade after her passing.

Adding their in-depth knowledge of the impact of community service to the premier private funding agency for non-profits in Martin County, Gytha Von Aldenbruck and Ellyn Stevenson have joined the board of directors for the Martin County Community Foundation. Von Aldenbruck and Stevenson join the Community Foundation’s 28-year history of inspiring and facilitating informed philanthropy to transform lives through thoughtful, innovative and effective giving.

“These two leaders have given back through their smart fiscal and programmatic efforts and dedicated volunteerism,” said Elizabeth Barbella, the executive director of the Martin County Community Foundation. “We are honored to have them join us on the board.” Von Aldenbruck, a resident of the Treasure Coast for 40 years, was a former First Vice President of Morgan Stanley, where she was recognized as a member of the prestigious Director’s Club. She is widely known for her fundraising efforts in Martin County, most notably on behalf of Treasure Coast Hospice and Alzheimer’s Community Care. She is a devoted volunteer who facilitates grief support groups and is an advocate for Memory Bridge, which brings hope and human connection to those afflicted with dementia.

Stevenson moved to Stuart in 1992, after a career in medical social work in South Carolina, where she established a groundbreaking statewide program for victims of sexual assault. As the Director of Stevenson Asset Management, she is managing partner of limited liability companies in Florida, Georgia and Colorado. She is a former board chair of Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast.

Von Aldenbruck and Stevenson join Chair Kenneth A. Norman, Vice Chair Nancy B. Crowder-McCoy, Treasurer Joe Paskoski, and Bridget Baratta, Michael A. Kelly and W. Scott Wade as board members. Similar to the 750 community foundations throughout the nation, the Martin County Community Foundation is a tax-exempt, public charity that works closely with individuals, families and businesses helping them reach their philanthropic goals though funds aimed at long-term change and benefits to society.

Trustees overseeing the remaining funds of the Frances Langford Foundation today announced plans to continue the local celebrity philanthropist’s legacy through the Martin County Community Foundation.

More than $7 million remains from the funds once established by Frances Langford, the famous singer and movie star who once made Jensen Beach her home. John Turner, the board president of the Frances Langford Foundation, said the Martin County Community Foundation was chosen for its fiscal responsibility and long-standing dedication to the betterment of Martin County residents.

“Frances Langford would be proud to be partnering with the stewards of the Martin County Community Foundation,” Turner said. “They can be trusted to carry on her good work.” Since Ms. Langford passed away in 2005, her foundation has awarded more than $26 million to112 organizations and programs throughout Martin County. As of Thursday, the new Frances Langford Fund for Martin County will be one of more than 35 charitable funds managed by the Martin County Community Foundation.

Established in 1988, the Martin County Community Foundation facilitates a wide range of philanthropic gifts, based on the interests of the individual donors and the needs of the community. “We’ve helped many people leave a legacy in Martin County, whatever their philanthropic goals are” said Elizabeth Barbella, executive director of the foundation.

“While Ms. Langford’s legacy is already quite vast, it is our ambition to expand herreach even further.” Ms. Langford, whose fame came from staring in more than 30 films, four radio shows and three television shows before moving to Jensen Beach, donated land for parks and preservation, as well as supported charities such as the Boys and Girls Club, Florida Oceanographic Society and Martin Health Systems. It was her donation that founded the United Way of Martin County’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society for those who give $10,000 or more.

Funding guidelines for the new Frances Langford Fund for Martin County will be announced Oct. 6.

A gift of $2.6 million will soon be making a big difference in the Martin County community and beyond thanks to the generosity of the late Beatrice M. Rais Merkle of Fort Pierce, FL. Beatrice Merkle’s legacy will forever honor her commitment to philanthropy and her community. With the help of her wealth advisor, Bud Jordan of Merrill Lynch, Merkle donated a portion of her estate as an unrestricted gift to the Martin County Community Foundation.

“Beatrice Merkle wanted to help others and make a difference in her community,” said Jordan.“ She was a dear client who wanted to be sure her gift would continue to make a difference long after she was gone. The Martin County Community Foundation provided a perfect vehicle to support her philanthropy and honor her legacy.”

MCCF’s Board Chairman, Kenneth Norman, Esq. said, “Our board thought carefully about how best to use these resources to honor Ms. Merkle while also responding to community needs. Her generosity in providing these resources without restriction will provide resources for continued impact in our communities.

By creating several endowments in her name, we look forward to seeing the outcome of her compassion in the community.” As the endowment earnings of the Merkle gift increase, MCCF, the community, and designated organizations will continue to benefit from Ms. Merkle’s generosity. A portion of the gift was used to create a designated endowment fund which will provide annual grants to support organizations that Merkle was passionate about, including the American Cancer Society, Florida Division; American Heart Association; Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children; Salvation Army of Fort Pierce; and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“We are grateful for the generous support of Beatrice Merkle. It will help us further our mission of saving lives from cancer, which will be diagnosed in more than 114,000 Floridians this year,” said Arleen Uria – Speed, American Cancer Society senior director, community engagement. The Beatrice M. Rais Merkle Community Fund will allow MCCF to award grants in response to the community’s changing needs and allows the foundation to address issues as they emerge, while a portion of the resources will also help MCCF expand its own services. By creating unrestricted funds, donors create a legacy that will grow and change as their community does. MCCF grants are awarded from endowed funds, such as the Merkle Fund, with priorities established by individual donors.

Organizations wishing to apply for funding should contact Jillian Vukusich, MCCF executive director, at MCCF is accepting
Letters of Inquiry until May 8th through an online application process. Thanks to her gift to the Martin County Community Foundation, Beatrice Merkle’s
legacy and giving spirit lives on, continuing to make a positive impact in our community for years to come.

To learn how the Martin County Community Foundation can assist with your personalized philanthropy plan or for grant opportunities, call 772-288-3795 or visit About the Martin County Community Foundation The mission of the Martin County Community Foundation is to facilitate philanthropy. Established in 1988, it is a nonprofit, charitable foundation consisting of named funds established by many separate donors to support the common good. The Martin County Community Foundation serves as a vehicle for donors to make positive, long – term change by supporting causes and organizations they are passionate about. For more information, call 772-288-3795 or visit

Good Samaritans, kind -hearted citizens, and generous individuals often go unnoticed by many, but for the recipients of their kindness, their contributions can be uplifting, even life changing.

Hobe Sound resident Joseph “Mr. Joe” Carlin was a dedicated volunteer and guardian angel to many, prior to his passing on June 20, 2014. For years, his philanthropy anonymously supported hundreds of local residents whether by covering the dining tabs of Martin County Sheriff’s deputies or covering student needs at his neighborhood preschool where he also volunteered.

“Mr. Joe, as the children and staff referred to him, was a very giving and generous man. On several occasions, he overheard me speaking to a teacher about a child whose shoes or clothes were either too big or too small. He would hand me cash and ask me to buy the child clothing, always asking me not to tell anyone. He also anonymously paid for a special needs student’s summer camp tuition,” said Colleen Gitschier, manager of Hobe Sound Early Learning Center.

“After Mr. Joe was no longer able to volunteer at the Center, a little girl asked where he was. Many of the children loved him and looked for him to give them their lunch. We were all surprised because it had been months since the children had seen him. This is the kind of impact he made at the Center. We all miss him.”

Mr. Joe’s legacy will forever honor his commitment to philanthropy. With the help of his wealth advisor, Craig Price of UBS Financial Services, Inc. and attorney, Steve Wood of McCarthy, Summers, Bobko, Wood, Norman, Bass & Melby, P.A, Carlin donated his IRA fund to the Martin County Community Foundation by naming the foundation as the beneficiary. This gift established The Mary Catherine, Mary Elizabeth and Joseph Carlin Fund. The permanent endowment was established in in memory of Carlin, as well as his late wife Mary Elizabeth, and sister Mary Catherine, both who passed following battles with cancer. As the earnings of the endowment grow, the Martin County Community Foundation will award the funds in the form of grants to support causes that Carlin was passionate about, including but not limited to early learning, breast cancer treatment and care, end of life care, and American veterans.

Thanks to his gift to the Martin County Community Foundation, “Mr. Joe” Carlin’s legacy and giving spirit lives on, continuingto make a positive impact in our community. To learn how the Martin County Community Foundation can assist with your personalized philanthropy plans, call 772-288-3795 or visit

About the Martin County Community Foundation The mission of the Martin County Community Foundation is to facilitate philanthropy. Established in 1988, it is a nonprofit, charitable foundation consisting of named funds established by many separate donors to support the common good. The Martin County Community Foundation serves as a vehicle for donors to make positive, long-term change by supporting causes and organizations they are passionate about. For more information, call 772-288-3795 or visit

The Martin County Community Foundation (MCCF), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire and facilitate philanthropy in Martin County, recently announced the appointment of a new executive director and board leadership. Jillian C. Vukusich, CAP®, has been named executive director of MCCF. Prior to MCCF, Ms. Vukusich was the Vice President for Community Investment at the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties where she provided leadership in the design and implementation of the Foundation’s grantmaking and scholarship activities. Throughout her tenure, she was instrumental in developing funder and nonprofit collaborative efforts that focused on leveraging resources to create greater community impact. She also worked closely with the donor services staff to align and cultivate interest among current and prospective donors with opportunities for giving.

Ms. Vukusich has been a member of the Community Advisory Panel for the Children’s Services Council of Martin County since 2008 and is currently serving on the 2015 State Summit Planning Committee for Florida Philanthropic Network. She is a 2007 alumnus of the Hull Fellows Program through the Southeastern Council of Foundations, the nation’s leading professional development program for philanthropy’s up-and-coming leaders.

Ms. Vukusich previously served as a member of the Council on Foundation’s Next Generation Task Force. Ms. Vukusich is a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy®, an American College designation which gives professionals the broad knowledge and skills to help clients and prospective donors reach financial and philanthropic goals. She holds a Master of Arts in Arts Management from American University in Washington, D.C., with distinction in the areas of Audience Development and Fundraising, and a Bachelor of Science in Dance Education from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida.
Kenneth Norman, incoming MCCF Board Chair, says, “Jillian has a track record of proven success, along with a strong work ethic and family values,
which will enable the Martin County Community Foundation to shine in its mission to assist philanthropic donors and to serve the needs of Martin County.”

At the Foundation’s June Board meeting, the Board recognized outgoing chairman, William C. Fowler, president of JS Capital Management, for his  committed and longstanding service to the Community Foundation. The board unanimously elected Kenneth Norman to serve as incoming Chair with Nancy Crowder McCoy as Vice Chair. Joe Paskoski will serve as Treasurer and Harry Pelton will serve as Secretary. The board also welcomed Bridget Baratta,  Michael Kelly, and Scott Wade.

  • Bridget Baratta joins MCCF’s board following a decade of service as the organization’s executive director. She recently joined Oxbridge Academy, in West Palm Beach, as the Director of Philanthropy and Strategic Partnerships. Ms. Baratta serves on the advisory board of The Lyric Theater and The Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida.
  • Nancy Crowder – McCoy, CPA, Vice Chair, is a shareholder at Proctor, Crook & Crowder, P.A. and has over thirty years experience in public accounting. She has served as a board member, treasurer and volunteer for several local organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Martin County, Martin Memorial Foundation Community Council, Stuart Main Street Association and the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast.
  • Michael A. Kelly runs his private family office hedge fund and has had a long career as a chief investment officer running billions of dollars as a fiduciary. Until recently he served on the Investment Committee of the Greater Houston Community Foundation and as a board member of the Catholic Endowment of Houston. He presently serves as a trustee and board member for two faith based charitable organizations.
  • Kenneth Norman, Esq., Chair, is a partner with McCarthy, Summers, Bobko, Wood, Norman, Bass & Melby, P.A. His areas of practice include, but are not limited to, estate planning, business law , finance and estate administration . Mr. Norman has served on several local boards including service as chairman of the Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce and the Business Development Board of Martin County.
  • Joe Paskoski, CPA, Treasurer, is the chief financial officer of the Quantum Foundation, the largest Palm Beach County-based health funder with over $150 million in assets under management. Mr. Paskoski boasts a wealth of accounting and auditing experience in the private and nonprofit industries.
  • Harry Pelton, Secretary, is a community volunteer who has served on the Boards of The 4C’s, 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast and Tykes and Teens. Following his illustrious career as a vice president and trust officer in the banking industry, Mr. Pelton
    has committed his time and effort to improving our local community.
  • W. Scott Wade is the chief operating officer of Keller Medical. He has a diverse background in the private sector industry and has served on several local boards including Gertrude Walden Childcare Center and Seacoast Bank Community Board. “This is an incredibly exciting time for the Martin County Community Foundation,” comments Jillian Vukusich, executive director. “The Board is truly focused on providing excellent
    philanthropic advisory services and improving our local communities. As we continue to grow, I look forward to meeting the many families, individuals and financial advisors in Martin County who have a passion for giving back.”

The Martin County Community Foundation was established in 1988. We work with philanthropically inclined individuals and organizations to improve communities. In doing our work we serve as a convener of community leaders, identify social issues in need of philanthropic support and work to bring about effective and positive change. For more information, visit