More than 125 New Canaan residents gathered recently at the Woodway Country Club for the New Canaan Community Foundation's benefit luncheon, to share their passion for philanthropy and to honor a local volunteer leader, Tom Turrentine.

"Tom's quiet, effective leadership inspires all who work with him to be their very best," Cindy Charas, chairman of the NCCF Board, said.

Turrentine has served the foundation in many ways, including acting as its chairman in 2005 and 2006. He is also a volunteer leader at Waveny Care Network, Day Care Center of New Canaan and Staying Put in New Canaan.

Jim Ziolkowski, founder and CEO of buildOn, gave a keynote speech at the event about his own experience turning an idea into action. After traveling in Nepal and witnessing the opening of a new school, Ziolkowski founded buildOn, the model after-school service program that both empowers students in U.S. inner cities and connects them with international school building projects.

Lindsey Heron chaired the event, which netted more than $20,000 to benefit the Young Philanthropists Fund at the New Canaan Community Foundation. The innovative program teaches local high school students about the role of nonprofit organizations in meeting community needs. Since its inception in 2007, more than 60 New Canaan students have participated in the program and they have awarded grants to more than 20 community nonprofits.

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