The best gift one can give to another is the gift of opportunity.

Rev. Brock Leach, Board Chair 2013-2015

Thanks to many generous donors, vulnerable children and their families can dream big and reach heights they never imagined.

Dr. Elaine Marieb founded “Elaine’s Kids,” a program that provides at-risk children with enriched language, reading and math instruction each summer to better prepare them to enter kindergarten in the fall.

Dr. Marieb later decided to expand her giving with a Legacy Gift of $1 Million to Children First, ensuring that the organization can continue Elaine’s Kids and other programs serving children and families in need.

In recognition of this amazing gift, the main campus of Children First was named the “Dr. Elaine Marieb Early Learning Center.”

Dr. Elaine Marieb passed away on Thursday, December 20th, 2018 in Naples, at the age of 82. Her love for education far surpassed the standard classroom, and we will always be grateful for her dedication to our children and families.

"I think her intent was to have a long-standing impact in geographic areas that were relevant to her, but more importantly to individuals that were relevant to her. Her experience coming up from a modest background and being given the opportunity for higher education, she wanted to impart that on as many people as she could."

-Marty Wasmer, Trustee of The Elaine Nicpon Marieb Foundation

Gerri Aaron Raised Her Hand for Children First

Ms. Gerri Aaron showed her dedication and commitment to local children and families with a very generous gift to the Raise Your Hand campaign. In honor of her tremendous support, the "Gerri Aaron Educational Wing" was unveiled in early 2016.

In Gerri's words, her goal was "to encourage others to furnish aid and understanding for the provision of a broad foundation for life training to children here at Children First."

Gerri Aaron passed away on February 14th, 2019 after a brief illness. Her commitment to providing every person, regardless of station in life, the opportunity to live a full and rewarding life is to be valued as being at the core of her being. 

"She had such a great deal of compassion for people, especially those who were struggling or in need. She would never think of putting anyone down or think she was better because she had something they didn't." 

- Longtime friend, Jo Rutstein

Another special gift came in the form of a memorial fund:

Eric Wishnie Memorial Fund

As Senior Producer for “NBC Nightly News” with Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams, Eric Wishnie was a world class journalist. He produced Brokaw’s trips to Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan and Israel as well as interviews with leaders such as President George W. Bush and King Abdullah & Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan. Eric also produced coverage of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and the 2002 games in Sydney. Eric traveled with Williams to produce election coverage in Iraq and post-tsunami coverage in Indonesia.

Eric’s passion for knowledge and learning ignited his life, leading his family to establish the Eric Wishnie Memorial Fund at Children First. Eric’s father Ted and his step-mother Ethna endowed the fund with a cash contribution and named Children First as a beneficiary in their will. Eric’s sister & brother-in-law Dawn and Mitchell Epstein are also contributors to the fund.

As Ted Wishnie said: “It is the family’s hope that others will join us in growing this fund thus ensuring deserving children improve the quality of their lives.” You may contribute to the Eric Wishnie Memorial Fund by making a direct gift of stock or cash, or you can name Children First in your will.

Children First and the families we serve are grateful for those who make gifts at any level to support our mission. Your gift will impact lives and change your life as well.