Tom Belin and his sister Laura.
Growing a legacy of philanthropy, Tom Belin and his four siblings grew up with a deep sense of the importance of giving back. Tom credits his parents, David and Connie Belin, with instilling these values in them early in life. He fondly remembers a family meeting in which his parents announced they were joining a local country club in their hometown of Des Moines, Iowa. “My siblings and I were so excited,” Tom recalled. “Then my parents said, ‘But this is something just for us, so we want do something for someone else, too.’“ So the elder Belins donated an equal amount of money to support a foster-child program overseas. “That experience has remained with me throughout my life,” Tom said.
Connie Belin, an educator who served on the Iowa Board of Regents, passed away from breast cancer. David Belin, a prominent attorney who wrote a book titled Leaving Money Wisely, later established the Iowa Foundation for Education, Environment and the Arts to advance charitable goals that were important to the family. As the Belin children grew older, they increasingly became involved in the work of the foundation, and they have managed the foundation since David Belin’s passing in 1999. Today, Laura Belin, the youngest of the Belin children, serves as president of the foundation in addition to other non-profit activities.
After living in places as far-flung as London and Prague, she returned to Des Moines, where she and her husband are raising their two sons. Tom, a faculty member in biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, has written or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed articles in areas of health-science research. He explains that the foundation is unable to review grant solicitations on a large scale, but that they look for opportunities to make a difference in areas that personally appeal to them. The Judy Fund has become one such area of interest.
After Tom relocated to California, he moved into the same neighborhood as Elizabeth Gelfand Stearns. Their children overlap in age, and their shared efforts through local PTA and Booster Club activities cemented a deep friendship. “I got to know Elizabeth through other philanthropic work she has done, and I have been so impressed over the years with the spirit of generosity that she and her husband Richard have brought to our local community,” Tom said. “I did not have the privilege to know Judy Gelfand, but I greatly admire what the Gelfand family has done through The Judy Fund to advance research and treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.”
When a family friend who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease passed away recently, Tom and his siblings looked to The Judy Fund again as a meaningful way to make a memorial gift. “Pat Thompson, who had served on our local school board and in the Iowa Legislature, was a friend of our parents and the mother of my lifelong friend Paul Thompson,” Tom said. “She had a heart of gold, and when you see someone like that affected by this disease, you want to make an impact.”
Thank You Judy Fund Donors!
Thank you for your generous support in the fight against this devastating disease. Because of family members and friends like you, you help us strengthen our efforts to advance Alzheimer’s research, care and support.