In 2012, before Downey Art Vibe (DAV) had a physical gallery space (Stay Gallery) and while we scrambled to organize our first student art exhibition outside of Porto’s Bakery, I received an anonymous phone call asking me how our organization would utilize if given $500 for the upcoming student exhibition we were putting together. I replied “we would use the money for art supplies and student awards.” Days later, I received an envelope with a $500 donation and a note reading, “Keep doing what you are doing.” The check was from the Mary R. Stauffer Foundation.
Since its creation in 1992, the Mary R. Stauffer Foundation has contributed an estimated $5 million to the students of the Downey Unified School District and the programs that contribute directly to their educational experience. She has also been a staunch supporter of many of our local non-profit and charitable organizations.
Even before Dr. Stauffer got to know me personally, she not only took a very strong interest in the development of our non-profit organization, but also in us as individuals. She attended most of our youth related events, always lending helpful advice on how we could better support Downey’s youth.
Dr. Stauffer is a big reason why Downey Art Vibe began to develop youth programs and initiatives. Since day one, she has always urged us to use our capacity to give back and ensure that we celebrate ‘excellence’ in youth education. As Downey Art Vibe prepares to launch our 2014 ‘Stay Young’ Initiative, I would like to thank Dr. Stauffer for always believing in us and in Downey’s youth. It is thanks to people like her that our future continues to remain unlimited.
Though she cares little for formal recognition and is quick to let you know that she has enough plaques with her name on it at her house, it is in my humble opinion that we as a community must come together to ensure that we commemorate Dr. Stauffer’s legacy and everything she has done for the City of Downey for many generations to come.
Thank you Dr. Stauffer for everything you have done and continue to do for the City of Downey. You inspire us all.
Valentin Flores is executive director of Downey Art Vibe and Stay Gallery.
Published: May 15, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 05