Tuesday, May 24, 2022

From the Magazine: Behind the Philanthropy

The smell of fresh paint and new drywall still emanates from the halls of the Stoops Family Foundation Residential Cottage in West Palm. Built in April 2021 as the residential wing of the HomeSafe Sylvester Family Foundation West Campus and dedicated to Jeff and Aggie Stoops after their $5 million donation to HomeSafe last year, the 9,984-square-foot cottage has become a home to girls who have suffered severe emotional and physical trauma while also serving as the genesis for something grander.

Seeing the profound effect this new facility had on the 12 teenage girls living there inspired the HomeSafe leadership to launch the $15 million Healing the Hurt campaign to transform and expand their other facilities across Palm Beach County. During the March 1 announcement of the campaign, HomeSafe revealed renderings and floor plans for the new Boca Grand Cottage, which will provide private bedrooms and bathrooms as well as therapeutic services for 12 in-need Boca children.

The state-of-the-art Boca Cottage owes its influence to the West Palm cottage that bears the Stoops’ name. Twelve private bedrooms, each with their own bathroom, line the two halls of the building, which join at an open area containing a rec room, complete with board games and a PlayStation, and a fully stocked kitchen. For the 12 teenage girls living there, the residential cottage is a safe space for them to live and learn the life skills necessary to have happy and productive lives. But for Jeff and Aggie Stoops, this building that bears their name is a way to spread the good fortune they have encountered in their lives.

“The older we get, the more we see that there are so many less lucky, less fortunate in the world, and we just want to share what we have and help those folks out,” says Jeff.

Such a large donation certainly makes the Stoops a stop on a tour of the philanthropic scene in Palm Beach, but the Sunshine State was not always their home. Jeff Stoops spent the first 20 years of his life in the suburbs of Wilmington, Delaware, and attended the University of Delaware before transferring to Florida State University where he met his college sweetheart, Aggie, who had also transferred to FSU from her home on Long Island.

The two met in the co-ed dorms for transfer students but didn’t start dating until Jeff was starting law school at FSU and Aggie was finishing up her undergraduate studies in social work with an emphasis on child welfare.

“For me it’s always been child welfare issues,” says Aggie. “I just had a passion for children in need.” The service bug bit Aggie early on in life, she says, with her parents volunteering at church functions and for Meals on Wheels. Aggie went on to volunteer at group homes when she was 19, and worked with women who had suffered from domestic violence.

After completing their studies, the two married, moved to Wellington and reared four children. Jeff worked as an attorney for the Gunster law firm, and stayed there for 13 years until he joined SBA Communications, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, in 1997. Within two years he became CFO and took the company public. In 2002, he became the CEO.

In 2013, the couple formed the Stoops Family Foundation to better channel and organize their philanthropic efforts, which at the time included funding professorships at FSU and developing their relationship with HomeSafe, where Aggie now serves as vice president. As a mother, the mission of HomeSafe resonates intimately with her.

“To be able to raise healthy and happy children, I feel very blessed, and I really feel for children and families that are hurting and don’t have that stability,” says Aggie.

As for what’s next for the Stoops, their Foundation is helping to develop a new adult center they funded for the Els Foundation, a nonprofit focused on serving individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“We look for underserved populations, and that is definitely an underserved population in Palm Beach County,” says Aggie.

This story is from the May/June 2022 issue of Boca magazine. For more like this, click here to subscribe to the magazine.

Tyler Childress
Tyler is the Web Editor and a contributing writer for Boca Raton magazine. He is an FAU summa cum laude graduate in Multimedia Studies who enjoys covering tech, education, housing and any other issues affecting South Florida.

Related Articles

Latest Articles