A Gardener at Heart
The philanthropic leadership that Mary Jane Gentry has exhibited throughout her life stems from her nurturing nature. Over the years, she has helped to grow valuable institutions that benefit many in our community. Mary Jane was a driving force in important initiatives during her time on her local school board. With her husband Stokes, she founded Wake Robin in Shelburne. She has spearheaded numerous programs at Shelburne Farms. And lucky for us and the children of Vermont, Mary Jane, with her colleagues, Lynne von Trapp and Brenda Bean, started the Vermont Children’s Trust Foundation in 1991.
Mary Jane’s work helping to ensure the well-being of Vermont children began in 1983 when she was appointed by Governor Snelling to chair the Delinquency Prevention Coordinating Council (DPCC). In 1986, she worked with the legislature to establish the Children’s Trust Fund, a way to get State and Federal grants to fund prevention programs. By establishing the Foundation, Mary Jane and her colleagues were able to raise private money to contribute to the Fund, increasing the number of grants awarded to programs.
The work of Mary Jane and her colleagues at the Foundation stands the test of time. Many of the programs they originally funded over twenty years ago, are going strong today – Puppets in Education, Lund and the VNA to name just a few. The seeds they planted and nurtured along the way created the basis for VCTF’s success today. Vermont children today have access to resources that lead them to healthy and productive paths thanks to this early work. Many initiatives have grown in number and strength over the years with funding from VCTF.