John and Helen Durante established their fund to create opportunities for others to follow their dreams. Their daughter, Barbara Van Slooten, noted that her parents believed in giving back to the community. The son of Italian immigrants, John started a home building business when he returned home from World War II in 1946, and he became a successful builder in Bergen County. John felt that he owed his success to the communities where he built. To that end, he founded the John J. & Helen M. Durante & Family Charitable Trust. “My father had a lot of foresight,” said Barbara. “He wanted to have a living legacy.”
The children of the Durantes now make the decisions on what charities should receive grants. When asked how they decide to give, Barbara stated, “We don’t collectively sit down and agree on where to give — it’s more an independent choice.” Health care is a strong area of interest for the family, since Barbara is a nurse, her husband is a dentist and her sister is a psychologist. “We support charities that are beneficial to children or people in health care, and we also would like to continue our father’s philosophy by giving to the veterans’ home or VA hospitals, where the vets will personally benefit from the donations. We are currently looking into an organization that builds homes for disabled veterans or those with financial hardships, as we know our Dad would be really proud of this organization.”
When asked about looking ahead to see what impact the family expects the fund to have in the future, Barbara said, “My father was one of those people who had thought about the future and what it would hold for other people — he wanted to have this living legacy that will live on through the John J. & Helen M. Durante & Family Charitable Trust.”
The Durante Scholarship Fund is an arm of the Charitable Trust that furthers the education of local students who want to pursue careers in the building and engineering fields so they too could carry on the American Dream. The Trust is proud that it can present scholarships in partnership with two local high schools and the New Jersey Builders Association.