'No one has ever become poor by giving'


It all started with a young teenager sharing her books so that others could enjoy them, too.

It was 1872, and the population of the Bronx was just over 37,000 — a massive boom from just 8,000 people living in the future New York City borough just 20 years before.

Grace Dodge was just 16 when she started making her books available, even building shelves in the family’s greenhouse so it could become an informal reading room for those who were generally employed by the family.

While this is the story of how what would later become the Riverdale Library on Mosholu Avenue would come to be — as told by the late historian William Tieck — it’s also the genesis of what would become the Riverdale Neighborhood House across the street.

The Riverdale Neighborhood House is truly a treasure for our community, not only standing strong for more than 150 years, but also providing resources beyond its walls. Whether it’s the library, the Riverdale Mental Health Association — now known as Mosaic Mental Health — and even The Riverdale Press, it would be hard to imagine what the greater Riverdale community would be like without the neighborhood house.

And we would never want to imagine such an alternative, anyway.

After all these years, the Riverdale Neighborhood House is picking up its biggest gift in its history. Mackenzie Scott — the co-founder of the online retailer Amazon — donated $640 million through her charity, Yield Giving, with $2 million of that coming right to our own backyard.

She is worth more than $40 billion — more money than any single person could possibly ever imagine spending in their lifetime. And Ms. Scott knows it. That’s why she’s one of more than 235 billionaires who have joined the Giving Pledge.

Created by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and entrepreneur Warren Buffet, the Giving Pledge encourages those who are wealthy beyond their dreams to donate half of their net worth, either within their lifetimes, or when they pass away.

Although it took nearly a decade for Scott to sign on, she has taken her pledge quite seriously, already donating well over $14 billion to 1,600 charities, with the Riverdale Neighborhood House now becoming one of those beneficiaries.

That money will go a long way for the continuing programs at the neighborhood house — whether it’s after-school programs, gardening, sports, helping senior citizens, giving food to those who are hungry, to even helping asylum seekers — the Riverdale Neighborhood House continues to be an extraordinary neighbor, and it’s only fitting it would catch the attention of philanthropists like Mackenzie Scott.

Winston Churchill once said that “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” And we don’t need to be billionaires or even millionaires to give back to our communities. Each and every one of us have the ability to give — whether it’s money or our talents — and fantastic organizations like the Riverdale Neighborhood House could certainly use it.

Make a difference today. Find the neighborhood groups that are enriching our communities, and make sure they will continue those efforts for years to come.

Riverdale Neighborhood House Mackenzie Scott donation Community programs Philanthropy Neighborhood groups Riverdale Library Grace Dodge Mosaic Mental Health The Riverdale Press After-school programs