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It All Adds Up: The Collective Power of Making an Annual Gift

Tony Zelano ’93 and his wife Catherine ‘93 Zelano met as undergraduate students on campus. After graduating, the couple became Salem State University donors in 1994 with their first contribution of $5. What began as modest annual gifts have grown, now totaling thousands of dollars over the years.

“Entering college at Salem State, my goal was to learn how to sell so I could become an insurance salesman in my father’s business,” Tony recalled. “I was shy in the beginning, but my college experience taught me the social skills I needed to succeed. I bought the business 10 years ago, and my brother and I have grown it two-to-three times bigger than it was. My success is all based on my experience at Salem State – the friends I made there, I met my wife there, and the person I became through the years I spent on that campus. All of that is why I give to the Annual Fund every year.”

Many alumni demonstrate their pride, support, and passion for Salem State by giving what they can every year, but they may not realize how powerful this support becomes over time.

Frank ’64 and Sandy ’64 Lillo both had long careers in teaching after graduating from Salem State in 1964. Frank retired after 35 years of teaching in Revere, Mass., and Sandy taught in several locations over the years and retired from Salem High School.

The Lillos made their first gift of $100 to Salem State in 1984 and have continued their support of the university every year since – 35 years of consecutive support. “We were both the first generation in our families to attend college, and our whole careers were in education. We appreciate that Salem State prepared us so well for successful careers.”

Through gifts of all sizes, donors to Salem State’s annual giving fund make an amazing collective impact and are a vital way for every member of our alumni community to make an impact at the university.

Tom Feeley ’68 graduated from Salem State with a bachelor’s in business administration. After founding his own public accounting and consulting firm in Boston, Feeley and Driscoll, P.C. (which merged with BDO in 2016), Tom and his wife Joan made their first donation to Salem State for $250 in 1983. That first contribution started an annual tradition of giving. The Feeleys have supported a variety of Salem State causes, funds and campaigns every year for the past 36 years. Tom’s greatest philanthropic commitment is giving unrestricted funds to support the greatest needs of the university.  

“I give to organizations I value, and Salem State is at the top of that list,” Tom explains. “I feel strongly about the mission of this university – to provide a high-quality public education to students from across the Commonwealth. I give unrestricted because I deeply trust in the university’s leadership, and this is the best way I can help move the university forward.”

Last year, 3,921 gifts were made by students, alumni, parents, and friends to Salem State. Over $910,000 was raised for the Annual Fund in the fiscal year 2018-19, which provides both unrestricted and restricted support to scholarship awards, departments, student groups, colleges, initiatives and programs. 

How Can I Make a Gift?

Visit to make a gift to the Annual Fund. Thank you for your support!

Alumni Relations
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