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This Gift is Personal: Bombecks Donate $20,000; Campaign Tops $60,000

Some of the biggest enthusiasts of the University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop have a heartfelt reason for supporting the workshop’s endowment fund.

To the Bombeck family, Erma’s legacy is personal.

That’s why they’ve made a $20,000 gift through the Arizona Community Foundation as part of the workshop’s first major fundraising campaign.

“The University of Dayton, and now the Writers’ Workshop, are both a part of our mom’s legacy.  What better way to honor her then to help support writers from across the country to learn, to laugh and be inspired,” said Matt Bombeck, Erma’s son and a screenwriter in Los Angeles.

After the workshop received a $20,000 challenge gift from an anonymous donor this fall, organizers launched a drive to match it. To date, without final yearend gifts tallied, the Bombecks and other supporters have stepped forward to more than meet that challenge.

The campaign’s unofficial $61,000 total includes a five-year $5,000 pledge from Vicki Giambrone ‘81, former president of the University of Dayton’s Alumni Association who helped launch the inaugural workshop, and a $2,520 contribution from the University’s communication department, which co-sponsors the event. Other major gifts included a $2,500 donation from Bob Daley ’55, a retired journalist and communications professional who’s helped plan every workshop, and $2,000 from novelist/comedy writer Anna Lefler, an EBWW faculty member. Other gifts ranged from $1,000 to $10.

All funds will be used to help keep the nationally renowned workshop affordable for writers and support programming.

“We’re so grateful to all of our supporters and offer a special thanks to the Bombeck family for their generous show of faith in the workshop we started together in 2000. Their devotion to sustaining Erma’s legacy is inspiring. The family’s presence at every workshop reminds us that this is a legacy worth preserving,” said Teri Rizvi, founder of the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

Rizvi expressed appreciation to the major donors and the approximately 100 writers, faculty, keynoters and friends of the workshop who stepped forward to support the workshop: “I’m thankful for their belief in the power of this workshop to inspire and encourage writers. Erma found that same inspiration and encouragement while a student at the University of Dayton, where she first heard three life-changing words from her English professor, ‘You can write!’”

On #GivingTuesday — an international day of philanthropy on Nov. 29 — nearly 50 writers-turned-social media champions jumped into action with donations, words of support and creative #UNselfies. Here’s a sampling of some of their reasons for supporting the campaign:

• “Gratefully paying it forward for the tremendous gift that Erma Bombeck and her family gave me!” — Mary Kay Fleming

• “I support the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop because it literally changed my life. I’m a better person — creatively, spiritually, personally — not only because of the education, but because of the friends I’ve made at EBWW.” — Joanne Keltz Brokaw

• “I got my start at EBWW!!” — Tracy Beckerman

• “Thanks EBWW for helping me internalize the words — You can write!” — Becky Koop

• “I’m proud to donate to EBWW! The world needs as much quality humor as it can get!” — Anna Lefler

• “EBWW helped me find my funny.” — Kate Mayer

• “The writer in me came out @EBWW! Thank you!” — Astra Groskaufmanis

• “Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop will improve your writing, and your life.” — Amy Sherman

• “Erma gave Moms a voice and her EBWW legacy gives writers a pathway to shine on in her memory.” — Bonnie Jean Feldkamp

• “I support EBWW because it is three days of laughter, learning and loads of inspiration.” — Christy Heitger-Ewing

In 2004, University of Dayton alumnus Ralph Hamberg and his wife Cindy gave a $100,000 gift to start a workshop endowment fund in memory of her cousin, Brother Tom Price, S.M., the English professor who launched Erma’s career with three simple words of encouragement. The Hamberg family, the Bombeck family, workshop faculty members, volunteers, writers and other supporters continue to contribute to the endowment fund. In 2015, actress and playwright Mary Lou Quinlan brought her one-woman show, “The God Box, A Daughter’s Story,” to campus for two benefit performances for the endowment. That effort raised nearly $33,000.

The University of Dayton’s Alumni Association underwrites the cost of scholarships that allow between 25 and 30 University of Dayton students to attend the workshop for free. The University of Dayton’s Human Resources Office provides 10 scholarships for faculty and staff.

The next workshop is slated for April 5-7, 2018.

Reflections of Erma