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Philanthropists—people that give with a purity of intention—teach future generations much about what it means to give. 

On May 4, Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF) honored several such philanthropists at its Celebration of Giving breakfast, an annual event that celebrates local giving and the people and organizations making an impact on our communities. The theme for the event was “Inspiring Philanthropy for Generations.”

The van Otterloo family of Marblehead—headed by Ejk and Rose-Marie van Otterloo—was given the George Peabody Award for outstanding philanthropy in Essex County.

Together, the Marblehead couple—raised on the principles of charity—has made a huge impact on Essex County through their philanthropy, which has been largely focused on education, the arts, and community institutions that help underserved populations. 

More importantly, they have created an entire family of givers that will carry on their legacy for generations to come. Working together as a family, the van Otterloos—through the van Otterloo Family Foundation – have granted more than $12 million in small and mid-sized grants to hundreds of local, national and international education programs that make a difference.

“When giving back to a community, or a school, or an organization, we are often reminded that it is not how much you give but that fact that you gave,” says Sander van Otterloo, Eyk and Rose-Marie’s youngest son. “I would add that it feels a lot better to give when there is purity of intent.”

It was this same purity of intent that led ECCF to Thomas Burger, this year’s recipient of the Professional Advisor Award, given each year to a professional advisor for outstanding work in educating philanthropists on how to maximize their charitable impact. Burger, a Gloucester resident and principal of the Hamilton Group in Beverly, not only helps guide others in their philanthropic efforts, he is also recognized for his tireless work in building a thriving arts and culture community in Cape Ann and beyond. It was Burger who spearheaded the efforts of the nonprofit Rockport Music to raise $20 million to build the Shalin Liu Performance Center.

At the event, which was held at the DoubleTree in Danvers and attended by more than 400 people, ECCF raised over $145,000 to support its strategic work in the region and local nonprofits. The Foundation also awarded capacity-building grants from the Fund for Excellence in Essex County to the following organizations: 

Groundwork Lawrence (Lawrence)

Ipswich River Watershed Association (Ipswich)

Lynn Shelter Association (Lynn)

Plummer Home (Salem)

House of Seven Gables Settlement Association (Salem)

Merrimack River Watershed Council (Lawrence)

Building Bridges Through Music (Lynn)

“Essex County Community Foundation is honored to have so many people and organizations in Essex County doing great work for our communities,” says ECCF president and CEO Dave Edwards. “To recognize locals for giving local is at the core of who we are as a Community Foundation.”