Encouraging and Rewarding Character Through Education and Recreation

It all started when…

Nick was 13 years old and he saw a TV show about how kids in the Dominican Republic love baseball as much as he did yet, due to poverty, they make-do with sticks for bats and rocks or water jug caps for balls. Inspired by this show, Nick encouraged his Little League teammates, at the end of the season, to donate their used baseball equipment for kids in the DR. Motivated by Nick's desire to help these kids, Mary and Jay launched the Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation with the intent to continue what Nick started in the Dominican Republic with a focus on providing vulnerable children support for their educational as well as recreational needs. The Foundation also promotes the TJCI (Thrive in Joy Character Influencer) initiative and provides scholarships and financial awards for grade school, high school, and college students who have been recognized as having character that matches one or more of the strengths attributed to Nick.

The Foundation is focused on encouraging 11 VIA (Values in Action )traits that best describe Nick's strength of character:

Perseverance: Finishing what one starts; persevering in a course of action in spite of obstacles; "getting it out the door"; taking pleasure in completing tasks

Kindness: Doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them

Perspective: Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself/others

Spirituality: Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort.

Humility: Letting one's accomplishments speak for themselves; not regarding oneself as more special than one is.

Humor: Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side; making (not necessarily telling) jokes.

Zest: Approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things halfway or halfheartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated

Love: Valuing close relationships with others, in particular those in which sharing & caring are reciprocated; being close to people

Honesty: Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way and acting in a sincere way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for one's feelings and actions

Teamwork: Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group; doing one's share.

Gratitude: Being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks.

11 character strengths from the VIA Classification of 24 Character Strengths ©Copyright 2004-2018, VIA Institute on Character. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.www.viacharacter.org

With these qualities in mind, the Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano Foundation engages in the following activities:

  • Two mission trips per year to the Dominican Republic—in March and November.  In partnership with VisionTrust International, we invite others to join us to participate in quality of life improvement projects and, most importantly, bringing love and encouragement to vulnerable children growing up in impoverished communities.
  • Recognition of and support for Thrive in Joy Character Influencers (TJCIs).  A person qualifies as a TJCI by engaging in community service  or random acts of kindness and sharing a video or a written summary of how they had an impact, or how someone had an impact on them, through exhibiting one or more of Nick’s 11 character traits.
  • Awarding of scholarships to individuals who demonstrate one or more of Nick’s character traits. Currently scholarships are awarded to: 1) A transfer student pursuing a degree at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, whose mission statement is “To improve the quality of life for people and their communities here and abroad” 2) A graduating senior who has played baseball all 4 years at Notre Dame High School whose mission is “Educating hearts and minds” 3) A graduating 8th grade student at St. Brendan School which has commitment to supporting character development and service to others.

Everyone, regardless of age, is invited to become a TJCI (Thrive in Joy Character Influencer): These 11 words that we attribute to Nick lead the Foundation's mission of encouraging and rewarding character through education and recreation.   We believe these are empowering words that can inspire all of us-- students, parents, professionals in any field, teachers, artists, healers, elected officials, athletes, service providers, retirees, and entrepreneurs to have a significant impact in their communities as well as touch lives through individual random acts of kindness.  Each effort has an even greater impact when it inspires others to do the same.  Post on the TJNFF Facebook page , Instagram, or Twitter. Upload a video or a written statement sharing how you had an impact on someone-- or how someone had an impact on you-- and whenever possible, attribute that impact to one or more of Nick's 11 character traits. Everyone who participates will be recognized as a TJCI.  Don't do Facebook? No worries-- just email your content or a link to your video using the email icon below. Your story will  keep Nick's light shining. Character is contagious and it's ironic that it's also the cure for a world that needs healing. With more TJCIs there's hope...and where there's hope, there's joy.