Recognized for exemplifying the "gold standard" of volunteerism, Joseph M. Abell, Jr., MD , Austin was presented with the foundation's highest individual honor, its Heart of Gold Award, on Saturday, March 6 in a special presentation at the TMA building in Austin.
"Of all the positions from which I have served Texas Medicine, the most satisfying for me has been the Texas Medical Association Foundation, the philanthropy of choice for Texas physicians," remarked Dr. Abell upon receiving the award.
The Heart of Gold Award recognizes an exceptional individual who has made a measurable impact on the life of the foundation, brought resources to TMAF that would otherwise not have been attainable, and brought innovative ideas or contributions to the foundation within a standard of excellence.
In the case of Dr. Abell, this translated into his chairing the Central Texas Campaign Committee for the Legacy of Caring Endowment Campaign, the effort that launched TMAF in 1989 and raised nearly $5 million dollars in immediate and deferred gifts. The wall recognizing him and the many others he recruited is featured on the first floor of the TMA building.
He was one of the original 11 individuals comprising the first foundation board of trustees in 1994. He later chaired its development committee and served as TMAF president from 1997-1999.
Along the way, he introduced TMAF to "best practices" he learned of through his close involvement with the 10 or more charitable organizations in which he and his wife, Mary, have been involved with for many years. These insights became the basis of many current TMAF policies and practices.
He would stress to the board that to attract donors, foundation-funded programs needed to go beyond "distributing educational pamphlets" to initiatives that concretely impacted the health of Texas through services provided or opportunities for Texans to make healthier choices in their daily lives.
Always giving back, Dr. and Mrs. Abell became Charter Major Donors at the foundation in 2000 and in April of 2008, they increased their giving and moved up to the Advocate level of this program. When asked why he supports TMA Foundation, he replied, "I feel that TMAF deserved to be the philanthropy of choice for all Texas physicians."
Dr. Abell closed the presentation by stating, "I thank the Texas Medical Association, and the Foundation Board and its magnificent staff, for honoring me alongside the prominent first recipient of the Heart of Gold award, Mrs. Fredye Factor , of Dallas."