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Spring 2004

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Meet the Friends of the Presidents

Established in 1966, the Friends of the PresidentsSociety recognizes the college’s most generous donors, who set an example of leadership in annual giving (the gift level for membership is $2,000, with a sliding scale of lower levels for the most recent classes).

Jenny Charlesworth Thomas ’79 brings a dose of Yankee ingenuity to everything she does. The Skidmore business major, who is serving as a class agent for her 25th reunion, has been known to awaken in the middle of the night with strategies for everything from creating class dinner decorations to bringing her peers on board as Friends of the Presidents. Her most recent bout of insomnia yielded a unique FOP gift-level formula for her class. “I was lying there thinking, ‘Well, we arrived at Skidmore in 1975. Divide that number by 25, our reunion year, and you come up with 79, the year we graduated. But add $1,975 and $25, and the result is an even $2,000’—voilà!” she quips.

The first ’79er she persuaded with this nocturnal brainstorm was herself: she signed on as an FOP member last November. The $2,000 was no small commitment for Thomas, who has been a single parent to a teenage son while managing her own business in Scarborough, Maine. Yet reconnecting as a volunteer for her 25th reunion, she says, has deepened her appreciation of a Skidmore education. And when she considers how many students depend on financial aid, she adds, “I wanted to do my part in giving back to the college that gave me so much and extend that opportunity to others.”


Thomas will be providing floral arrangements for ’79’s reunion dinner through her business, Oak Hill Florist—which she purchased several years ago, after a career in advertising and marketing lost its appeal. Childhood memories of helping her two great-aunts in floral shops they owned compelled Thomas to follow her dream. She used her business background to manage a number of employees and learned design technique from them on the job. She now does much of the designing herself. “The creativity involved is great,” she says. “No day is ever the same, and I love the opportunity to work with my hands.” With reunion planning winding down, Thomas hopes to get at least a few full nights of sleep before June. —MM


 


© 2004 Skidmore College