Amy and Jim Chapman are the proud parents of three children and grandparents of seven – soon to be eight – grandchildren. But their love of children extends far beyond their own family.
Jim graduated from the Miami University (Ohio) with a degree in finance and earned his master’s in finance at Xavier University in 1975. He is a founding partner of the investment banking broker/dealer firm of Meuse, Rinker & Chapman where he worked for more than 30 years.
When the firm expanded into real estate, Amy was hired as a paralegal. “I had nothing to do with the hiring, as she was in the real estate division and I was on the financial side,” he said. The two began dating after attending a Miami University dinner. Six months later they were married and will celebrate their 38th wedding anniversary this October.
In 2000, Jim helped to found Red Capital Group, which is a leading servicer of multifamily and assisted living loans. He retired from his position as Chairman in 2012.
Jim had two sons from a previous marriage, Scott and Matt. The couple soon added a third child to their family, their daughter, Brynne. After their marriage, Amy became a stay-at-home mom, though she was extremely active in the community in a variety of education and human-service organizations, including the Homeless Families Foundation and its Dowd Education Center, which provided STEM programming for children K-8. Its afterschool and summer programs provided education and programs to enhance social skills, self-esteem and overall health of its students.
Both Amy and Jim had a connection to the Gulf Coast of Florida, as Jim’s parents had first vacationed, and then retired and moved to Bradenton. Amy’s family had also vacationed and then moved to the Gulf Coast, on Longboat Key. “When we finally moved to Longboat Key, our neighbors included Frank and Katherine Martucci and John and Elenor Maxheim, who were all very involved with Children First. That’s how we first became aware of Children First, and started learning about its programming,” Amy said.
After attending several Children First events, and hearing CEO Philip Tavill speak about the school’s mission and programs, “We were both quite impressed,” Jim said.
“Children First is very well organized, well-run and financially sound,” Jim added. “In talking to Philip and Vice President of Philanthropy Jessica Rogers, they told us that one need the agency had was to build their endowment further, and to do that, they were looking for a leadership gift. Amy and I talked about it, prayed about it, and felt it was something that was right for us to do.”
The couple has committed to a gift of $500,000 to enhance the Children First endowment.
Jim and Amy currently spend six months of the year (October through April) in Sarasota, then return to their home in Powell, Ohio for the summer months. “As we get to know more and more people, and become more involved in the Sarasota community, the time we spend down here seems to be growing each year,” Amy said. “Every year we fly back to Ohio for the holidays, so that we can be with the children and grandchildren – and, of course, this year we want to be there for the birth of our eighth grandchild, due on Dec. 30,” Jim said.
When they return in the fall, Amy is looking forward to getting more involved at Children First, and would like to volunteer in the classrooms, helping with the young students. “We are also hoping that our endowment gift will inspire other such gifts,” Jim said.
Both agreed that there are many things to love about Children First. “I love all of the programs, and the fact that their programming encompasses the entire family,” said Amy. “When I was volunteering at United School Networks in Ohio, I saw there was so much need. There, the schools have a laundry room so parents can do the laundry. There are computers so parents can get online and look for job openings. I just saw the importance of reaching out to the entire family, which is what Children First does so well,” she said.
“Helping the children is wonderful, but if you really want to see them succeed, then you have to help the parents, too,” she said. “Sometimes for a single mother who is working and has four children, well, there are only so many hours in a day. It’s so wonderful to have a place where the children can feel secure and loved, and the parents can know that they are in a good place, a happy place. That’s when you know you are really making a difference in people’s lives.”