Faces of Philanthropy: Mary and Kim Jeffery

Photography by ChiChi Ubiña

As Americans, we live in a country that has so much. This drives us to want to give back and do more. We are the most philanthropic country in the world and it feels great to be just a tiny part of that. My husband, Kim, and I have always believed it was important to give back, and we literally started our marriage by chairing the capital campaign for Kids in Crisis.

Kim grew up in Illinois and graduated from Hillsdale College in Michigan. He served as President and CEO of Nestle Waters North America for 22 years. Since retiring last year, he’s been very busy! In addition to private equity and four corporate boards, he’s on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, Keep America Beautiful, the Connecticut Council on Education Reform, the Rex Griswold MSA Foundation and the Drinking Water Research Foundation. But he still manages to play a lot of golf!

2015-1-16-Jeffery-G-Look10279-copy1-731x1024I’m from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I went to Pennsylvania State University and worked in crisis management at Porter/Novelli in Washington, DC, before leaving to raise our four children. I am on the board of the Breast Cancer Alliance for many reasons, but not the least of which is that my father had breast cancer (and unfortunately, so many dear friends too.) I feel passionate about the work the BCA is doing and am impressed by how carefully they use their funds.

We are both on the Leadership Council of AmeriCares and are inspired by them for just that reason. If there is a crisis anywhere in the world, AmeriCares is immediately there providing medical supplies and medicines and support. We’ve also been involved with REACH Prep. And, of course, with four children in three different schools in town, we try to do our part there too.

Our children ages 13 to 17 have engaged in some of our same causes, including World Vision where they each have adopted a child. They are also finding their own passions like working with GEMS (Greenwich Emergency Medical Service) and the fire department, becoming a part of the Breast Cancer Alliance junior committee or working within their schools on causes that they connect with. We love that the schools are so committed to developing kids’ awareness of and need to be involved in the service of others.

Kim and I were inspired by our own parents. Kim and his two siblings were raised by a single mom of modest means who still found time to be there for others. She was an amazing woman who passed last year at 100 years old! My parents raised five children without any help but my mom was always volunteering at school and church. I don’t know how she did it! But like so many, those who have the least amount of time or ability seem to give back the most.

The men and women in this town are role models for us too. So many women have left successful careers to raise their children here and have poured their time and talent into valuable causes in town. We’re blown away by the power of the generous people in this town and feel uncomfortable to be singled out in any way because we are only two of so many.

I also have to say that I’m inspired by my husband. He isn’t good at saying no and is always willing to lend an ear or provide support when needed. When he starts to turn his light off at night and I say “Oh, Kim, one more thing…,” he knows he’s committing himself to something else before that switch is clicked off!