The Council for Resource Development (CRD), a national association of community college fundraising professionals, has selected Paul Jr. and Deb Mears to receive its 2013 Benefactors of the Year award. The annual award recognizes the outstanding contributions and service of donors who have made a difference to a community college. Mr. and Mrs. Mears were honored in Washington, D.C., as the top philanthropists for an urban, public college.
Paul Jr. and Deb Mears received the award in recognition of their long history of philanthropic support to Valencia College. The family has been involved with Valencia Foundation, the college’s fundraising arm, for more than a decade and their contributions include an endowed scholarship to benefit students in Valencia’s hospitality management program. Deb has served on the foundation’s board of directors since 2008.
In 2010, the Mears family pledged $1 million to create the Paul Mears Sr. Take Stock in Children Fund. Established in memory of Paul Mears Sr., the fund supports educational opportunities through the Orange County Take Stock in Children program, an initiative that helps promising at-risk children succeed through mentoring and a guaranteed college scholarship. In recognition of the gift, the college renamed its West Campus Student Services Building the Paul Mears Sr. Student Services Building.
“We are most grateful for the partnership and support of Paul and Deb Mears and especially for the lives their investment is changing,” said Valencia President Sanford C. Shugart. “This honor recognizes not only their commitment to Take Stock and the college, but also to their numerous other charitable endeavors.”
Paul Mears Sr. founded Mears Transportation Group in 1939 with three taxicabs. Today it is one of Central Florida’s most recognized premier guest services and destination management companies. The company also provides charitable support to the Red Cross and is a founding contributor to the Give Kids the World Village. Deb Mears has served on the committee for the local Festival of Trees and Mears Transportation Group has sponsored the event, presented by the Council of 101 to benefit the Orlando Museum of Art. In partnership with their sister company Hello Florida!, Mears has served as a corporate sponsor for the March of Dimes “March for Babies” charity walkathon.