David Stone
Jim Luce
Jim Luce

Sometimes, our wealth is best measured by what we give. In those terms, Jim Luce is a very wealthy man, and Roosevelt Island is richer because of him

Jim Luce's philanthropic foundation, James Jay Dudley Luce, has a mission "to support young global leadership impacting positive social change and the NGOs that support them." The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is a publishing initiative embedded within the foundation, designed to mimic The Huffington Post, where he is a contributing editor, with a singular focus on engaging with the world to improve it.

"It is about bettering ourselves so that we can do more to better humanity. It is accepting the responsibility we have as human beings -- Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Humanist, or None of the Above -- to actively help better the world."

That in a nutshell is what Roosevelt Island's nonstop philanthropic activist Jim Luce is all about. He does work that makes Roosevelt Island proud every day. Or should. As self-effacing as he is passionate, Luce does not seek personal publicity or draw attention to his work. He just does it, whether anyone outside notices or not.

The journey of a lifetime began in 1995 when Luce, on an impulse, dropped in on an orphanage in Indonesia and was sickened by the poverty he saw. This was decades after warehousing parentless children ended in the U.S.

"The had no toys," he recalls. "The place was clean but unbelievably poor."

True to his nature, Luce adopted one of the children from the orphanage, and after a period of intense planning, he took the next step, founding Orphans International Worldwide. The organization, where he continues to serve as president, now oversees a dozen facilities around the world that shelter orphaned and abandoned children. Their design is to provide the children with family-like environments that are smaller and more intimate.

In the last year, Luce starting something new, recruiting groups of interns and helpingto shape them as global leaders of the future. 

While spending so much time building emerging institutions that promise to make a brighter future, Luce still found time to serve on the Common Council and as a board member of The Child School.

Few are cut out for lives of comprehensive, creative giving. Fewer still are up to the demands of it. Jim Luce is one of them. His generosity and kindness is a Roosevelt Island community jewel.

By his actions, he makes all of us better.