Last year, Robert Taylo r, Class of 1993, decided he would find a way to start an organization that he knew would have an impact on the world and would contribute positively to the Penn State community.
And so, he came up with Success with Honor, a group that aids other organizations run and supported by Penn State alumni and students. Now, Success with Honor, which celebrated the first anniversary of its founding on Tuesday, works to spread the word to other Penn Staters about these organizations in which former classmates are involved. It is in the process of earning its 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, and the organization’s expenses are covered solely by its team members.
“This organization was inspired by Joe Paterno’ s way of not necessarily doing things the easy way, but the right way,” said Programs Director and current World Campus student Heather Vedell, Class of 1994 .
But Taylor said he does recognize the negative conversation that has surrounded Paterno in light of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case.
“We try to stay as much as possible away from all of the negativity or opinion that may be out there about Penn State. We are trying to be careful about how our mission is portrayed,” Taylor said. “We are not affiliated with any group that may have opinions about Penn State and Joe Paterno. We are just trying to change the narrative.”
The organization plays off of the large Penn State alumni base across the United States to help connect Penn Staters with each other. It works to find professional and volunteer help for emerging charities.
Also, the organization promotes other charities by making sure people are aware of them through social media or by word of mouth. Often, the team members will also contribute their own donation through volunteering or contributing money. One example of this would be donating 10,000 frequent flyer miles to Luke’s Wings , an organization that provides travel for wounded soldiers and their families, Taylor said.
“We want to find ways to support these organizations. It could be through financial donations, resources like helping with toy drives and diaper drives, or professional resources, like finding someone to develop their website. Chances are that someone from the Penn State community can do that,” Taylor said.
Success with Honor’s hope for the future — or as they call it, the “12th Man” concept — is for newly-formed Penn State organizations to feel like they can turn to Success with Honor first for help in getting started.
But Success with Honor Advisory Board Member John Gilmore said the team cannot do this alone.
“ For this to be successful, it is up to the alumni and current Penn Staters to embrace this organization,” Gilmore, Class of 2001, said.