Schmitz family honors parents with donation for critical service

When Annie McBournie and her five siblings joined a Zoom video call to talk about the COVID-19 crisis, they knew how their late parents would have responded.

“In our conversation, none of us could get our head around the fact that there are all these people in the midst of this change and craziness who are also worried about feeding themselves and their children,” McBournie recalled. “My five siblings and myself felt this was the time to rise up and do something a little different that’s needed. We’ve got to help these working families whose lives got turned upside down.”

Through the Schmitz Family Foundation, the siblings gave funds to Catholic Charities of Denver to extend its Aurora-based Little Flower Assistance Center to two other locations. These additional food pantries will help families get the food, clothing, financial assistance, and resources they need to survive the pandemic.

McBournie is president of the Denver-based Schmitz Family Foundation, working with her brothers and sisters to oversee its focus of helping working families afford faith-based private education in Colorado.Their philanthropic parents, who started the foundation with their children in 2000, had humble beginnings. Their father, Vince, was one of 11 children who were raised almost solely by their widowed mother, a German immigrant. McBournie recounted how her father, at age 10, helped pay his own school tuition through a part-time job delivering the Rocky Mountain News and caddying at the Denver Country Club. Vince married Marilyn in 1955. In 1963, he co-founded Aurora National Bank, which later became Citywide Banks. Marilyn passed away in 2009 and Vince followed in 2010.

“My father had a strong belief in work ethic,” said McBournie. “He said there’s a lot of assistance out there … but very little out there for people who are hard at work."

This pandemic “is different than anything that’s happening in our time,” said McBournie. “There’s a greater need now.”

The foundation outlined specifics on how they wish their donation to be distributed. Most importantly is that it be quickly distributed to help serve families, specifically with food services and emergency financial assistance.

“We’re looking for an immediate impact on those in need,” she said.

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The siblings love Colorado where almost all their children and grandchildren live, and where their giving is focused.

Many of the family members have attended local Catholic parochial and private Catholic schools for their education. Out of instinct, she said they were moved to help other families with basic necessities.

“This decision was not difficult, because we all know our parents so well that it is easy for us to honor their legacy,” McBournie said. “Our parents were very consistent in their giving and kindness.”

The Schmitz Family Foundation donation was given in April to help Catholic Charities provide the necessities of those coming to its doors for assistance. The Little Flower Assistance Center also provides employment search support, budgeting assistance, a food assistance program for seniors, an annual toy drive, and referrals.

To all the families facing challenges and struggling during the crisis, McBournie shared an encouraging message.

“God has a plan,” she said. “He will make us rise out of this stronger. There may be changes that are not what we would like, but in the end they will all be for the better. It’s all in the hands of the greater good. My prayer personally is that more people will turn back to faith because of this. We just have to trust.”