Our Shared Legacy

Our Donors

We are grateful for every generous gift that will help the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy achieve its goals.

Man Standing by a River

WPC’s commitment to protect the land, water and life of the region could not continue without the support of members. To find out more, email members@paconserve.org.

Paul and Carolyn Rizza

For Carolyn and Paul Rizza, charitable giving – with an incredible goal of giving away half of their annual income – is really a fun and meaningful experience. As Carolyn puts it, “you get to meet so many wonderful people when you are involved in giving. Volunteers and donors are really wonderful people to know.”

Carolyn, a WPC board member and retired professor of sociology and social work from Slippery Rock University, has always loved the outdoors. She began giving to the Conservancy many years ago because she wanted to ensure that special outdoor places remain that way. An avid animal lover – with horses, cats, dogs, and an Audubon Bird Sanctuary at their home outside of Grove City to prove it – she wanted to ensure that wonderful natural places remain unspoiled.

For his part, Paul, who served as the chair of the department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Slippery Rock University before his retirement, was well aware of the importance of protecting sensitive environments. In fact, his department was one of the first in the country to introduce a concentration in environmental studies.

Their childhood experiences also shaped their love of nature. Carolyn grew up in Texas, where a frontier spirit that places a high value on holding land still permeates the culture. Far away in Connecticut, both sets of Paul’s grandparents owned farms and he recalls roaming the woods and streams, enjoying nature as children often do.

The Rizzas’ extraordinary emphasis on giving to a variety of causes has roots in their very different circumstances as children: Carolyn grew up in a family that was charitable, while Paul’s family, when he was young, at one point received help from a charitable organization. Yet, they both remember going to church as children with change for the offering plate. Paul points out: “a culture of giving needs to be instilled in youth from the beginning.” These experiences shaped their life views and contributed to their charitable spirits.

Carolyn’s dad used to say that it is difficult to give away money responsibly, and with so many worthy nonprofit organizations to consider and evaluate, Paul and Carolyn agree. Paul and Carolyn use online resources – like Charity Navigator – to research the efficiency of organizations that they intend to support. They are glad that WPC is highly efficient with donor dollars and has received top ratings from watchdog groups. They also appreciate that the Conservancy works at the local level, protecting nature in their area – creating outcomes of clean water and protected acreage that is tangible and long-lasting.

For all of these reasons, Carolyn and Paul have made the Conservancy one of their philanthropic priorities. They have supported the Conservancy’s work for many years, most recently focusing their philanthropy on protecting the land and water within the French Creek watershed and, more broadly, creating a land and water opportunity fund to conserve key natural areas in the region. Through a campaign commitment that combines a current gift with a future bequest intention, they have ensured that their extraordinary generosity will also reach far into the future.

The Conservancy is honored to be included in Carolyn and Paul’s current and future plans. Their ultimate legacy will benefit all of us who enjoy Western Pennsylvania’s spectacular natural places.

Our success will be our collective legacy, a testament to foresight and commitment to the natural resources entrusted to us.

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