One Good Turn Deserves Another
David Fennelly earns two awards for exemplary leadership in Philanthropy
David Fennelly thinks one good turn deserves another.
“Love thy neighbor wasn’t invented yesterday,” he says. “I believe that people want to do good things and just need the opportunity to feel part of a team, a community.”
As the chairman of Associated Terminals and Turn Services, prolific providers of marine services and cargo transport on the Lower Mississippi River and Gulf South Region, Fennelly leads the effort to serve the South Louisiana community on a daily basis. But it is his dedication to civic service in the philanthropic realm that led Fennelly to receive two honors in November 2015. On November 12th, Fennelly received honors as the 2015 Outstanding Philanthropist from the Greater New Orleans Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The next week, the United Way of Southeast Louisiana presented Fennelly with its highest honor, the Alexis de Tocqueville Award for exemplary leadership in volunteerism and philanthropy.
“I know these award names me as an individual,” says Fennelly, “But, this way of charitable thinking is the philosophy of our companies, Associated Terminals and Turn Services, to give back to the community in which our people live.”
With years of active involvement with United Way under his belt, Fennelly has pledged to contribute $1 million to United Way over the next five years to make way for a better future in Louisiana. One project close to his heart is Club Connect, a partnership between the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and United Way to improve literacy for kindergarten through third grade students and to bolster high school graduation rates. As the chair of Club Connect in its inaugural year, Fennelly donated his time and financial contributions to this crucially important program to provide seven schools with reading rooms, more books and resources to promote reading to children and parent engagement.
An eye-opening moment for Fennelly was when he heard an elementary school teacher speak about the impact on her students. She was amazed at how engaged the children are in reading instead of watching videos during leisure time. Seeing the reading room filled with children reading, discussing their books and even older students reading to younger students has been rewarding not only for parents and educators, but also because it provides hope for future educated generations in Louisiana.
Fennelly also sponsors the New Heights Therapy Center in Folsom, Louisiana. This facility for therapeutic horseback riding provides hope and healing for people with physical, cognitive, emotional and mental disabilities. In addition to donating the property and facility, Fennelly actively fundraises, including an annual event for more than 500 guests on his Covington farm. Over the facility’s 17-year history, these four-legged therapists have helped children with brain injuries to gain independence and veterans with PTSD to find peace, among many others.
True happiness is seen in the eyes of the receiver. When they are giving you gratitude back, you know that that you’re making a difference and it is so fulfilling,” he says.
It is this philosophy that sets apart the employees at Associated Terminals and Turn Services. Through philanthropic initiatives Associated Efforts and One Good Turn, established under Fennelly’ s guidance, the companies are committed to initiatives that bolster education, serve the disadvantaged and improve the communities in which their employees live and work.
One of the biggest annual projects is the Digging for Kids bicycle drive that, over 15 years, has provided more than 4,500 bikes to disadvantaged youth during holiday time. Employees load the bikes into trucks and personally deliver them into the community to experience the joy firsthand. “They absolutely love it,” says Fennelly. “Whenever they see a need in the community, they are encouraged to come together and make a difference.” In addition, both Associated Terminals and Turn Services designate days to donate their proceeds to philanthropies. Employees are also able to designate hours of their wages to support a non-profit during this time.
Fennelly stands apart for his active involvement in numerous other charitable organizations focused on the well-being of children and the disadvantaged in Southern Louisiana communities. He and the companies also contribute to numerous community programs and charities including Arc of Louisiana chapters, the Greater New Orleans Therapeutic Riding Center, Volunteers of America and Children’s Hospital.
Despite the many places Fennelly has called home — two countries and four states, to be exact — it was the community in South Louisiana that drew Fennelly to stay and give back.
“Ultimately, it’s the kindness of people here,” he says. “I love being part of creating the opportunity for that to be nourished and encouraged.”
By Shelby Simon