Giving Back to the Community Can Change Your Life

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After a successful three-decade career with a major accounting firm, Gerald "Jerry" Hilbrich retired and became a role model for one of his personal philosophies.

"As long as I can remember, I felt like those of us who were fortunate to earn a comfortable living from the community that we were living in had some responsibility to put something back," he says.

And that's exactly what he's done.

Among his many leadership positions, he's the only person to have chaired the United Arts, United Way and Community Foundation of Central Florida. He is the current Board Chairman of the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation and he's transformed the business practices of nearly every organization he's served, resulting in huge increases in financial support.

"I don't just live here, this is my home. I want Central Florida to be the best community it can possibly be. If there's something I can do to make it better, then that's what I'm going to do," he says.

Hilbrich was recently given the National Philanthropy Day Lifetime Achievement Award, and he says he wants to dispel the myth that you have to have a lot of money to make a big impact on your community.

"Just get involved. Find something that you're passionate about and that's important to you and try and get involved to make things better."

Hilbrich says in many ways, he gets more out of volunteering than he gives.

"Volunteering has broadened my perspective and opened my eyes. It's shown me some aspects of the community I didn't really know existed. I was surprised and in some cases appalled and said we need to do something to make things better."

He says he understands it can seem overwhelming to get started with philanthropic causes. People are confused about where they should donate their time and money and it may seem impossible to make a difference.

He offers his tips.

"You have to get involved. You have to become personally knowledgeable about what the charity you're interested in helping is doing. How is it spending its money? Does it make an impact? Are they effective at what they do?"

Hilbrich says he learned to give back to others from his mother and father. If you don't have an example of someone to follow, he urges YOU to become the example.

"You have to lead by example. I always say, Don't do as I say, do as I do. Hopefully people will sit up and take notice of that

To learn more way to get out into your community and live a happy and healthy life, visit

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