I attended my first Shock Trauma Gala in 2012. When the program started, I saw the young man whose car had crashed through my fence several years before. During the accident, he had been impaled with a board through his chest. There he was, standing on stage; and we were hearing his story. His life had been saved by Shock Trauma! I was extremely impressed with the tremendous life-saving care they provided.
Later, I was asked to serve on the Shock Trauma Board of Visitors. My decision was easy. I felt it would be an honor to be affiliated with the #1 Shock Trauma center in the world where 97% of the patients survive. The majority of these patients arrive with life-ending medical situations! In addition to leadership as a Board member, I felt it was important to provide the financial support necessary for Dr. Tom Scalea and his medical team to do their miraculous work. My hope is that others will join me in supporting the great Shock Trauma.
I was born and raised in Baltimore. As a young man, I had aspirations of becoming a military test pilot. When entering the University of Maryland College Park, I went to the head of the Air Force ROTC and asked what degree would help me to be a test pilot in the Air Force. I was told electrical engineering, which was the degree I signed up for.
My father was an entrepreneur who had created three very small businesses. He passed away when I was 16. As I was about to graduate from Maryland, my mother told me that I needed to give up the flying foolishness and run the family businesses or they would be sold. The one aspect of business that I liked was working with the tenants. The rest is history.
In 1961, I became a partner with a local developer by the name of Leroy Merritt.
I started St. John Properties in 1971 - a commercial real estate firm which now owns and manages over 18 million square feet of real estate (retail, research and development, office, and residential) in Maryland, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Utah.
The company is valued at more than $2.5 billion, and services over 2,000 clients.
I’ve always felt that it is important to give back in communities in which we have a corporate presence. The success of St. John Properties has enabled me to do just that.
In 1998, I established the Edward St. John Foundation to formalize my philanthropy and focus the impact of my giving.
The mission is “to provide funding for formal education programs from Pre-K through the high school level” based on my belief that education has the power to transform lives and strengthen communities.
St. John Properties dedicates 7.5% of the annual net income to the Edward St. John Foundation with 100% of those funds allocated each year to philanthropic organizations.
To date, more than $60 million has been pledged and donated to educational programs and charities. Organizations have used my support to encourage others to make contributions. I’ve challenged organizations to raise additional funds by matching my donation. They have not only reached their goals but have raised more than they ever thought they could raise.
My interest and involvement in the local community is more than just financial. I’ve served on numerous boards over the years. In addition to the Shock Trauma Center Board of Visitors, other board memberships have included the Maryland Academy of Sciences/Maryland Science Center, The Johns Hopkins University, Edward St. John Real Estate Program and the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, among others.
Over the years, many organizations have given me awards and honors for my contributions, but my philanthropy is not based on recognition. I learned years ago that if you feel that someone or some organization needs help, help them because it’s the “right” thing to do, and it makes you feel good. The satisfaction you receive from helping others is enough.
I also learned that giving back takes many forms. It can mean leadership, volunteering, serving as a mentor as well as making contributions.
We all have the power to make a difference. We have the choice to make it personal, to create that legacy, to be that role model. It’s the most important thing we do with our lives.
I take great pride in my affiliation with the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center as a Board member and as a donor. We are truly fortunate to have the #1 trauma care center in the world right here in Baltimore! I'm honored to support their life-saving work!
I hope that the families and friends of loved ones being treated here at Shock Trauma find some comfort in knowing that they are in the hands of the best!