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The Power of People

A letter from board member Daniel McGowan

Hello All,

As we kick off 2024, I thought that it might be nice to take a moment to reflect on why the Fund does what it does, as well as the people that make it possible for us to do this wonderful work. When we are our most successful, the Fund is helping each of our five communities meet their most basic needs. It’s clear to me that hunger is the most pervasive need in my community, as well as homelessness and underemployment. I grew up in the community in which I now reside, as do my siblings. This is our home, and because it’s our home, we are dedicated to working hard to help the people we share it with.

Over the years, I’ve been proud to see the Fund aid organizations such as Saint Leo the Great Catholic Church in Ashley, Pennsylvania, which was the parish of William McGowan’s whole family. Each McGowan child of that generation was baptized at Saint Leo’s; it was where their mother went to church every day. And when they needed help remodeling, the Fund provided support of its efforts. This work is personal for us.

Many years ago, Monsignor McGowan introduced us to the Commission on Economic Opportunity. He was a founding member of our Foundation and was a long-time board member of CEO. After his passing, CEO chose me to fill his legacy seat on their board, which I’ve held since 2007. CEO was the charity nearest and dearest to his heart, and I do not take the work of filling his shoes lightly. We have been helping CEO since the Fund began, and in 2011, we provided them with $1 million to build the Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan Center for Healthy Living in 2011; in 2022, we gave $350,000 for it to be expanded.

Through many different programs and the Weinberg Food Bank, CEO is trying to create sustainable change for our community, not just feed it for a day. It might sound cliché, but I really believe they care. I believe it because it is evidenced in their work. It’s not just in the amount of food that they distribute, it’s the kindness you feel flow though all areas of the support they give. CEO also has an incredible retention rate of staff—many of its workers have been there for more than 20 years—and it’s these people who truly do the hard work. They understand what our community needs and provide it. It is a privilege to be able to help them.

In philanthropy, there is often a debate between caring for people and curing problems. In recent years, many philanthropies have shifted toward investing in longer-term, dynamic solutions to solve systemic challenges. We believe that it is acceptable to address immediate needs and reduce suffering, especially if it is part of a pathway to solving major problems. CEO is taking this approach, and the McGowan Fund is honored to be supporting it.

It would be incredible if we could fulfill all needs in 2024, give enough to make everyone whole and healthy, but this is not work that can be done in a year. It will take time, and we are dedicated to continuing to learn more and help more as we move forward. The work we do now, in 2024, will hopefully benefit not only this generation, but also the one that comes after it. We will keep showing up, as will our brilliant grantees, the good people dedicated to making change. Together, we will make our communities, the places we live and love, stronger.


Dan McGowan, Board Director
William G. McGowan Charitable Fund