Press Release Albion Community Foundation Executive Director Shane Williamson
Albion, Michigan September [ 17 ], 2021- The Albion Community Foundation, in partnership with the Mayor of Albion, Victoria Garcia-Snyder, today announced that the Christie and Tony de Nicola family have made the largest gift in the history of the Community Foundation. The de Nicola’s, who are former Albion residents and long-term supporters of the city, pledged $2 million to assist the community in revitalizing and transforming key assets in the City of Albion mainly focused on parks, recreation, children, and families.
Mayor Garcia-Snyder was critical in securing this gift. “When I was elected, I was committed to providing more resources and opportunities for the youth of our community. I am grateful that the de Nicola family shares my vision and love for this community, and for their willingness to provide the financial resources that will make this vision a reality. We all grew up with the same common denominator of influences such as Tillman Cornelius, Hazel Lias, Mike Sequite, John Schilling, and MaryAnn Egnatuk, and many other great educators. I am thankful to be part of the initiative that will bring in resources to provide the same type of leadership and guidance that helped shape many of our lives and inner fortitude. I am hopeful that this will be an inspiration for other Albion graduates and residents to give back to our community.”
Shane Williamson, Executive Director of the Albion Community Foundation, said: “The Albion Community Foundation has been committed to the city of Albion for over 50 years. This is the single largest gift to the foundation and to the community in our history and comes at a critical time as the city is rebounding from Covid and beginning a new phase of growth and prosperity.”
The Albion Community Foundation will work with city leaders under Mayor Garcia-Snyder to fund and complete specific community projects that have been agreed upon by the de Nicola family and the Foundation. Among the first such projects will be a splash pad and playground in McIntosh Park. This Park has been without equipment and love for so long and because of this support, it will be revitalized as one of the Albion Community Foundation’s priority communities inside Albion. There are so many more projects on the horizon. Community leaders have recommended these projects as part of their “Blueprint for a Better Albion”, which was used to convince the de Nicola family to support their vision for transformation and renewal of Albion.
Christie de Nicola explains her family’s decision to provide this extraordinary gift to Albion. “Tony and I were both raised and educated in Albion and are proud graduates of Albion High School where we met as student-athletes. Our lives have been blessed in so many ways, and we have never forgotten the deep roots we have in Albion. We love Albion and we have always given back to our hometown. We are so grateful to all those teachers, coaches, friends and family members who provided for us that critical foundation of faith, family, and education here in Albion that allowed us to achieve our God-given potential, to create a wonderful life for our families and to give back to the community and to so many worthy organizations who help others. With this gift, we are helping to provide for today’s Albion families and children the same types of parks, recreation programs and opportunities that we were fortunate to have as youngsters growing up in Albion.”
The gift comes in two waves. The first portion has been made up-front so that work can begin in early 2022 on projects in the agreement. The second installment will come as matching dollars as the foundation and city leaders actively work to gain more support for this work. Mandy Dubiel, Chair of the Albion Community Foundation Board of Trustees said “The de Nicola family’s gift is the perfect opportunity to bring our community together around so many positive projects in Albion. This extraordinary investment will inspire all of our Albion friends, residents, and key partners to match this gift and increase its’ impact.”
The de Nicola family is establishing two separate, equal funds within the Community Foundation to honor their parents. One will be in honor of Christie’s parents, the Beth and John Saurer Fund, and the other will be in honor of Tony’s parents, the Carol and Guy de Nicola Fund.
Tony de Nicola explained the rationale behind establishing these two funds saying, “Our gift to Albion is in tribute to our beloved parents. In making this pledge, we believe that our parents are the ones who should be recognized for all they have done for Albion and, of course, for us. We honor them because of who they are and for the commitment to helping others that they embody, and we thank them for the unconditional love and support they have always provided to their families, friends and to the community of Albion.”
Former Albion High teacher and swimming coach, Mary Ann Egnatuk has known both families for over 40 years. “I taught both Tony and Christie at Albion High, and I had the privilege of coaching Christie on the swimming team. They are wonderful people, and that comes from their parents and their upbringing. John and Beth were actively involved in helping our swimming program in my early days as a coach, and that support paved the way for all the successes of future Wildcat teams and swimmers. I admired Christie’s athletic ability and her competitive spirit, so much so that I named our first daughter after her. Similarly, I have known and admired Carol for all these years, she is one of the most beloved and respected people in Albion.”
Michael E. Williams, CEO of Orchards Children’s’ Services, Albion College Trustee, and formerly Mayor of Albion, commented on the two families he has known since he arrived on the college campus in Albion. “I have known Tony and Christie since they were in middle-school, when I coached Tony in basketball and became very close with his family. They are great examples of the type of people that Albion produces. Of course, we know that they are incredibly successful, but more than their career and life achievements, they are kind, caring, generous people. If you know their parents, you are not surprised. I think of Carol as my adopted Mom in town, and equally generous in their love are John and Beth.”
To assist the de Nicola family in monitoring progress of the various projects, the family has established a five-person advisory board comprised of long-time Albion community leaders and residents. The board will include Mark Garrison, Karen (de Nicola) Hoaglin, Mike Sequite, Gwenn Tabb and Larry Williams. Mr. Sequite was instrumental in helping to secure and shape this gift for the city of Albion. He has known the de Nicola family since the early 1970’s when he played football at Albion College, then became a police officer on the Albion Police Department where Carol worked, and ultimately coached Tony at Albion High School. Mr. Sequite remains a close confidant and friend of the de Nicolas and noted: “I knew that Mayor Garcia-Snyder and the de Nicola family had a long-standing relationship as Albion High graduates and members of St. John parish, and I set up several conversations to allow the Mayor to describe the community’s needs, her vision, and how Christie and Tony could really help their hometown with these important projects. I look forward to the role of the advisory board to ensure that the vision, plans and objectives set out in this transformational gift are accomplished for the citizens of Albion.”