ACT for Alexandria

"Everyone Can Be A Philanthropist"

Meet Jane and Mike Collins, ACT Charitable Fund Holders

A service vacation to a Khayelitsha township school in South Africa in the spring of 2012 led to Jane and Mike Collins establishing the Hess Collins Family Fund later that year. While attempting to teach the running broad jump to a group of students, Jane tore the ACL in her left knee. Left in one of the poorest parts of the world, Mike and she waited for two hours for a rusty, 1970s era Toyota to take them to the nearest hospital. Expecting the worst, they were stunned to find themselves in ultra-wealthy Somerset West minutes later, at a new, state-of-the-art clinic.

Startled by the economic contrast, Jane and Mike were also surprised that many of the township schools and orphanages were built by visiting service groups from outside South Africa. This led them to explore a way to bring community sectors together to help those in need who lived “in their own back yard.”

Believing that employment is critical for individual and community success, they created the Hess Collins Family Fund and began to fund initiatives where nonprofits partner with each other or with other community sectors to promote workforce development.

Jane and Mike, both retired from the federal government (Jane from the United States Air Force and Mike as a Navy civilian), believe ACT for Alexandria’s “everyone can be a philanthropist” philosophy. The Hess Collins Family Fund has funded several projects among job-focused nonprofits that brought job skills training to citizens who would otherwise not have access to it. Jane and Mike enjoy meeting the clients they have sponsored at their job training graduation, and as their fund grows they hope to continue supporting nonprofits that give people in need a second chance through workforce development initiatives.

-Contributed by Jane Collins (Read more of Jane's blogs on volunteering and community engagement on AARP's website and stay tuned for more profiles of ACT fund holders in the coming months).