Preserving a Family Legacy of Giving by Creating a Donor Advised Fund

Jun 12, 2019

When The Amalia & Nicola Giuliani Foundation for Religion & the Arts’ board members decided to convert the private family foundation to a Donor Advised Fund, they began searching for financial steward with shared values. From the first conversation, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation proved to be the right fit.

Often, our most powerful connections are made around the kitchen table.

That truth lives at the heart of the story of Amalia and Nicola Giuliani, immigrants from the small Italian town of Castelgrande who settled in Greenwich, Connecticut. Nicola, a shoemaker, opened a shop; the couple’s sons John and Vin, both born with innate artistic talent, helped turn the family’s humble apartment into a place of creative beauty.

Amalia & Nicola Giuliani Foundation
Amalia and Nicola Giuliani, shown here with their sons John (top) and Vin (right), were known in Greenwich for their generosity and hospitality.

Knowing what it was like to be vulnerable in the world, Amalia and Nicola were famous for inviting neighbors, tradespeople and those in need to share a meal. In their family kitchen, a large wooden cylinder for cable wire was painted yellow and turned into a table — a bright beacon inviting guests to gather and enjoy Amalia’s homemade pasta dinners.

To Gregory Hauck, a close friend of John Giuliani, that shining and expansive table became a potent symbol of generosity and hospitality. Looking back, he believes sharing a meal around that vibrant yellow table was just as much about the experience of love and community as it was about physical sustenance.

“Inviting the world to your table to break bread with you is a powerful spiritual practice,” says Gregory, who later became Vice President for The Amalia & Nicola Giuliani Foundation for Religion & the Arts. “I felt so welcomed and part of the family.”

Lessons Learned at the Family Table Inspired Father John Giuliani’s Lasting Contributions to Fairfield County

Lessons learned at his parents’ table made a deep impression on John Giuliani, whose life work continued to reflect the spirit of love and generosity back into the community. Initially trained as an artist at the Pratt Institute, John was called to enter the priesthood. In 1960, he was ordained to serve in the Diocese of Bridgeport; and, for the next six decades, he worked to build spiritual connections, inspire others through beauty, and serve those who were most vulnerable.

“My mother’s gift of hospitality and my father’s gift of generosity are values that beautifully resonate in the culture at FCCF. I don’t see this transition solely as a transference of funds, but also a transference of soul, an organic development of my family’s legacy.” ~ Fr. John B. Giuliani, Founder & President of The Amalia & Nicola Giuliani Foundation for Religion & the Arts

As a renowned artist of sacred iconography, Father John’s paintings of indigenous people advanced a vision of spiritual unity. Displayed in galleries around the world and presented to the Pope, his work invited lovers of art and humanity to celebrate Native Americans as America’s spiritual forebearers.

As a priest, Father John’s direct service to the community shaped Fairfield County in lasting ways. While serving as a chaplain and teacher at Sacred Heart University, he gathered his students to help found the Thomas Merton House of Hospitality in Bridgeport, a soup kitchen that now serves 85,000 meals a year to economically disadvantaged people; and the Good Shepherd House of Hospitality in Norwalk, a counterpart facility that would eventually become Manna House at the Open Door Shelter. Father John also served as a consultant for the founding of New Covenant House in Stamford and the Dorothy Day House in Danbury. “Through the years, he was a leading and influential figure in terms of soup kitchens and feeding the hungry,” says Gregory.

In 1977, Father John founded the Benedictine Grange in Redding, a small community devoted to service and the contemplative life. As a group of people united in common purpose, its members supported the community and beyond through numerous missions, from inspiring the Bread and Roses hospice to serve men and women with AIDS across Fairfield County to funding missions to impoverished areas of Nicaragua and Appalachia.

“So many missions arose out of that community,” says Gregory, who was one of the Grange’s founding members. “A lot grew out of this little community.”

This work was amplified in 1982 with the founding of The Amalia & Nicola Giuliani Foundation for Religion & the Arts, established by Father John in honor and memory of his parents and his older brother. This new foundation was led by Father John Giuliani (President), Gregory Hauck (Vice President), Jane McCaffrey (Treasurer), Karen Veronica (Secretary), Dennis Torres (Communications Advisor), Kathleen Deignan (Social Impact Investment Advisor), Marion Najamy (Artistic Advisor) and Pam Jones (Legal and Financial Advisor).

Over nearly four decades the Foundation grew into a powerful charitable engine that awarded nearly $75,000 in grants each year to projects that fostered peace, justice and the creative human spirit, with a special focus on serving children, the poor and the vulnerable.

Converting a Family Foundation to a Donor Advised Fund Preserves a Tradition of Philanthropy for Future Generations

In 2018, approaching 90 years old, Father John along with his board members sought another charitable vehicle to continue the tradition of philanthropy that they had sustained for decades through the Giuliani Foundation. With the goal of converting the foundation to a Donor Advised Fund, Dennis and Gregory began searching for a financial steward rooted in Fairfield County that shared the organization’s vision and values.

From the moment they walked into the office of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, they knew they had found the right place. “We got such a warm welcome from the staff at FCCF,” Gregory recalls. “It conjured up Amalia’s bright yellow kitchen table. We felt like we belonged there.”

In talking with staff members, Gregory felt confident that the strong values of the organization were reflected in the mission and culture of FCCF.

“The Community Foundation’s focus on the human predicament and knowledge of organizations we were supporting made it clear our values aligned,” says Gregory. “We just knew that this was the place.”

Because board members felt it was key to choose a financial steward with socially responsible investments, FCCF staff worked hand-in-hand with the Giuliani Foundation to create a social impact portfolio. “The hope was that what we were doing would push the envelope, and FCCF showed they very much support our passion and values,” says Gregory.

Kristy Jelenik, FCCF’s Vice President of Development, says the social impact portfolio partnership was of mutual benefit.

“We are always trying to understand funder needs, and how we can better align with them and evolve our services,” she says. “It was a win-win, and we remain grateful.”

For their part, Jane and Dennis were thankful to be able to turn to FCCF for assistance during the Giuliani Foundation’s conversion to the Donor Advised Fund.  From taking on accounting processes to handling communications with grantees, they recall, FCCF staff never failed to step up to cover needed tasks.

“I don’t remember them ever saying no to us,” says Dennis. “The support we got was amazing, and the transition to FCCF was seamless.”

For Father John, now a resident at the Meadow Ridge senior living community in Redding, and for the board members and community he inspired, knowing the Giuliani family’s passion and values will be preserved forever through FCCF’s grantmaking is deeply satisfying.

“It’s been a great journey,” says Gregory. “We are thankful this wonderful legacy will continue through the Donor Advised Fund.”

Learn more at about Donor Advised Funds at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation at