WarrenJune 29, 2012
Regina celebrates largest donation in school’s history
By Cortney Casey
C & G Staff Writer
Officials at Regina High School in Warren are, in a word, “overwhelmed” by the donation of property valued at more than $1.25 million to further its programs and mission.
The three parcels in Hollister, Calif., donated by the Roberts Family Trust, represent the largest single donation the all-girls Catholic school has received in its 56-year history, said Luanne Romano, Regina’s director of advancement and alumnae relations.
“It’s overwhelming to see a donation of that magnitude when you’ve never seen that before,” said Romano, an alumna herself.
Regina’s principal, Sister Mary Leanne Leszczynski, echoed Romano’s sentiments.
“I remember when she came to tell me, and probably the first words out of my mouth were, ‘Oh my God, God bless them,’” she said with a laugh. “For us to get a large donation like that, it’s really … hard to even imagine. It just doesn’t normally happen.”
The donation was announced publicly at Regina’s Blue & White Gala at Andiamo in Warren June 14, but Romano said they initially learned in February that a property donation was pending.
The trust is the estate of Janet Peters Roberts, who passed away on Sept. 27, 2010. The three trustees — nephews Louis Peters of St. Clair Shores, Leonard Thomas of Sterling Heights and John J. Peters of Rochester Hills — were directed to allocate a portion of the estate to Catholic educational institutions, said Romano.
Regina, whose student body includes young women from 38 communities across four counties, was one of four such facilities tapped to receive a gift from the trust, said John Peters.
“Regina was selected because my aunt was a single woman for most of her life, was a strong believer in her Catholic faith and an equally strong believer in the value of a Catholic education,” he said in an email. “My aunt was originally from Detroit, where most of her relatives continue to reside. We recognized Regina’s need and the value of what Regina brings to Catholic education for girls.”
Louis Peters added that his daughter, Jessica, graduated from Regina, “so we had firsthand knowledge of their high-quality Catholic education.”
In a press release, Regina officials said they were “forever grateful” for the gift, which Romano said was given in the form of property because, as a 501(c)(3) institution, Regina can sell it without the tax burden the trust would encounter.
Proceeds from the property’s sale will be used for endowment, capital improvements and/or scholarships, said Romano, though the exact breakdown is yet to be determined.
John Peters said there are no conditions upon the gift’s usage: “We expect that Regina will do whatever brings it the greatest value,” he said.
According to a biography supplied by the estate’s trustees, Janet Peters Roberts, born to Lebanese Maronite immigrants in Detroit in 1928, earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Detroit and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan, and traveled and taught throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
After marrying her husband, Tom Roberts, in Singapore in 1960, she settled in San Jose, Calif., earned her real estate license and embarked on her career. She eventually moved to Hollister, where she lived for the rest of her life on a ranch/farm.
She passed away at 82, after a long struggle with rheumatoid arthritis. The property donated to Regina comprises undeveloped parcels acquired during her lifetime.
“We are certain that this gift would give our aunt great satisfaction,” said John Peters. “The trust looks at this as more of an investment than a gift. The investment is in the future education of an untold number of young women, who in turn will go on to make positive impacts upon the lives of others as they move through life. That is what Janet Roberts would most want to see.”
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