Gilroy woman receives Distinguished Volunteer award

Karen LaCorte

A Gilroy woman was honored at the Silicon Valley National Philanthropy Day on Nov. 16 for her work in raising $70,000 for the Gilroy Foundation last year.

Karen LaCorte, co-owner of Marx Towing in Gilroy, was one of ten Bay Area recipients of the Distinguished Volunteer award last week. She was recognized for orchestrating the Gilroy Foundation’s 22nd annual Day in the Country fundraiser, which raised a record breaking amount of money for the organization.

“This was totally unexpected,” LaCorte said. “I do this because I love it. I love our community and I love working with people and I love to see money reaching to the needs in our community.”

The Gilroy Foundation collects money to offer scholarships for local students attending college or technical schools as well as grants to recreational programs, arts programs and senior programs among a blanket of other local causes.

LaCorte was nominated for the award by the Gilroy Foundation in April.

“We got a notification from the Association of Fundraising Professionals asking if we had any volunteers we would like to nominate for National Philanthropy Day. My event coordinator, Lee Blaettler, and I looked at each other and said ‘Uh, I think Karen,’” said Gilroy Foundation director Donna Pray.

“Karen has the ability to envelope people into her efforts and everyone wants to work for her. She makes everything fun and is never afraid to ask for anything,” Pray said.

The theme of LaCorte’s fundraiser was “A Night in Argentina,” and Pray said that LaCorte magically transformed the Gilroy Elk’s Lodge to make guests feel they were escorted to Buenos Aires for the evening.

“Her event was the highest fundraiser we’ve ever had,” Pray said.

In addition to serving as an ambassador for the Gilroy Foundation, LaCorte has served in a number of leadership and volunteer roles in Gilroy, including the Gilroy arts and cultural commission, St. Mary’s School, Gilroy Rotary, the Garlic Festival, and the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce.

The Day in the Country is the Gilroy Foundation’s largest yearly fundraiser. Since 1982, the Gilroy Foundation has given more than $2 million in grants and scholarships.

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