The Children's Institute Blog

Donor Profile: The Mackie Family

Posted: Sep 26, 2017 by The Children's Institute

When Shana and John Mackie talk about supporting groups like The Children’s Institute, words about the spirit of philanthropy and the nature of their giving spill out of them, unscripted and pure.

“John and I are so stinking blessed, it’s ridiculous – God is in our lives,” Shana said recently. “God is so deeply woven into our systems and our universe. We kind of want to spill that over to other people. ‘You could do that!’ ‘Who’s in the room I can help today?’ ‘Who can I encourage today?’ We want people to say, ‘I can do this, too!’”

“We believe we’re not just here to accumulate stuff and serve ourselves,” John said. “There’s a greater meaning to life – you have a duty to help other people, be generous and share.”

To that end, the charity-minded Wexford, Pa.-area couple launched Party With A Purpose, an annual philanthropic event that raises funds for local causes and non-profits. The first event, in 2012, helped Haiti and, in the years since, the group has raised more than $115,000 for six area nonprofits. In 2016 alone, the Mackies' event donated $23,410 to The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh.

But they don’t donate just to donate. For the Mackies, it’s a calling. John said the spirit of their philanthropic work even finds its way into his day job, where he serves as an investment advisor for wealth management firm Hefren-Tillotson.

“[Clients ask] ‘Do I have enough for retirement?’ That’s really important. But, I tell them, ‘What we’re looking at here on paper, that’s just money, it’s just that,’” John said. “‘You have to think of what’s really important in your life. Now’s the time to start thinking, ‘Do you really want to spend it all on yourself?’”

Shana and John said their philanthropy also sends clear messages to their three children – Noah, 11; Madison, nine; and Logan, six – about the important things in life.

“I think we model. Not only do we model, we pause and explain,” said Shana, who worked with John and her children to throw the fundraising K.I.N.D. event – which stood for “Kids Inspired to do Noble Deeds.”

“For me, the best part of the whole event was when we set up the donation box and each of my kids went to their piggy banks and put in the first $15 or so,” John said. “I think both Shana and I came from homes that set good examples. It was common for someone to have a birth or a death in their family and we wouldn’t hesitate to think, ‘Hey, why don’t we drop off a meal for the Smiths?’ I think it’s important to encourage people to do that.”

The message clearly is getting through.

“I remember starting to give back to others a few years ago when we would go to the Pirate games and pack brown-paper-bag lunches. We would pass the lunches out to the homeless people around the stadium,” Madison said. “That really has stuck with me as far as trying to help others. In school, I like to be a good friend to others. I like to read books to my bus buddy who is younger than me and is a little shy.”

“I want to treat others the way I want to be treated,” Noah said. “You don’t always know why the person got into the situation – like why they are homeless, why they are acting a certain way – but you should always be willing to help no matter what.”

“Helping others is the right thing to do,” Madison added, resolutely.

Shana said it doesn’t take a purposeful Party to make a difference, either. She enjoys simply sending Hallmark greeting cards to people to mark occasions or let them know she’s thinking of them.

“It could be a lemonade stand or paying it forward at Starbucks – three or four bucks – it’s worth making somebody’s day, making somebody happy,” Shana said. “There’s so much intention we’re looking to spill out to our kids – and to those around us.”

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