A sleepy little town on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River may seem far removed from a scientific research project of historic proportions. But Port Gibson, Mississippi, is the home of Joc Carpenter, who has guided the Madison Charitable Foundation to become a key supporter of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project.
From his back deck overlooking the river, Joc describes how his desire to help improve the lives of children led him to earmark a sizeable gift from the foundation for the groundbreaking genome research taking place in Memphis.
“The research that St. Jude is doing and the data that will be accumulated from this project are unbelievable,” he says. “To think that St. Jude is poised, through this research, to double the knowledge that has been gained over the last 50 years is truly exciting.”
Joc’s business partner of 35 years, Wiley Hatcher, formed the Madison Charitable Foundation in 2007 from the proceeds of the sale of his oil and gas pipeline engineering company. These men, along with two other associates, became equal trustees of the foundation, each being allowed to direct grants as they see fit. Joc has the greatest respect for his former partner. “I believe giving to others is a learned trait,” Joc says, “and watching Wiley has taught me a lot about giving.”
A self-described advocate for children’s causes, Joc says choosing St. Jude as a major beneficiary was an easy decision. “It’s hard to go anyplace and not meet someone who has been affected by the work of St. Jude,” he observes.
Shortly after making the initial contribution to St. Jude, the cause of fighting childhood cancer became much more personal to Joc and his wife, Leigh Ann. In the fall of 2009, their great-nephew became a Hodgkin lymphoma patient at St. Jude.
Today, the little boy has completed his treatment and is doing well, making Joc’s decision to support St. Jude even more meaningful and spurring him to make an additional donation through the Madison Foundation to fund a matching gift for the hospital. “I wanted to encourage others to help the children of St. Jude too, and offering funds for matching seemed like a great way to do that,” Joc explains.
The Carpenters are proud of their involvement with the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, and they eagerly track the progress of the research through their St. Jude representative, Leslie Davidson. “Leslie keeps us well informed as discoveries are happening,” Joc says. “We are in awe of the work that St. Jude is doing,”
Through his experiences with the Madison Charitable Foundation, Joc has found truth in the adage, “To give is better than to receive.”
“It’s a very gratifying job,” says Joc of his trustee position. “Being able to provide financial support and seeing how it can make a difference in the lives of so many people—it does your heart good.”
Reprinted from Promise Summer 2012