Burcu and Mete Tuncel understand the value of giving back to their community. They have been devoted philanthropists and TPF donors for several years. Their involvement with Turkish Philanthropy Funds began through Burcu’s connection to Tashman family as the 2004 recipient of the Tashman Fellowship for her MBA degree at Columbia University but continued with Burcu and Mete’s working with Özlenen Kalav, former President and CEO of TPF, at the Robert College Alumni Association of America. These connections enabled them to have a true introduction to TPF and begin their philanthropic journey with TPF.
The Tuncels are drawn to help children in need and found their passion in two main areas: education and healthcare. Through Turkish Philanthropy Funds, Burcu and Mete were able to find organizations they wanted to get involved with, and they were able to trust that their support would go to the areas they imagined. “I enjoy being very hands-on,” says Burcu Tuncel. “With TPF, I’ve loved being involved in the projects we support from Turkish Philanthropic Association (Türkiye Yardim Sevenler Derneği) to fund schools in my hometown to raise awareness on early childhood education to provide scholarships to TOHUM Autism Foundation, which offers top of the line education for kids with needs and supporting children affected by leukemia and their families through LÖSEV.”
The couple brings a creative attitude to raising money and awareness as well. Right when the pandemic hit our communities, Burcu and Mete looked for a way to help people in Turkey. The couple reached out to TPF to discuss potential ideas. Burcu did not only bring in her passion for giving to TPF but also her network and connections. She connected with her Robert College classmates, Yasemin Sırali and Özge Karadağ Çaman, for guidance and help. Her research revealed the need for a medical machine called the Cerus Intercept System that can be life-saving in the treatment of Covid-19. And, there was only one of them in Turkey, in Istanbul. Burcu reached out to Robert College alumni to raise funds. A major gift by another Robert College classmate, Umur Çubukçu, and many others enabled TPF to donate the device to İnönü Üniversitesi Turgut Özal Tıp Merkezi in Malatya. This machine which inactivates pathogens in the plasma collected from individuals who have recovered from coronavirus disease, is a life-changing opportunity to help fight the infection. “Turgut Özal Tıp Merkezi is Turkey’s largest stem cell and organ transplant hospital with 222 stem cells and more than 300 liver transplants in 2019. With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, it became the first hospital to start immune plasma therapy globally after centers in China. Knowing that this will make a huge difference for thousands of people during these uncertain times of Covid-19 and will continue to be used in the long- term for stem cell and organ transplants once the pandemic is over makes this one of the most memorable moments of our lives,” notes Burcu and Mete. This, along with many other reasons, inspires the Tuncels to give back and do so through TPF.
“Working with TPF gives us a sense of security and reassurance that our contributions go to make the lasting impressions we desire. TPF helped us stay on top of things. With TPF’s due diligence, we know our donations go to the right place. When you donate through TPF, the grantees take you more seriously. They make things happen. They know TPF will follow up and that they have to deliver on time,” says Burcu. As Burcu and Mete continue their journey with TPF, they hope to educate friends and family on the power of intentional giving. Mete and Burcu plan to continue identifying opportunities to tell their friends and family how they can give thoughtfully and see their investment results. “We are excited about the opportunities we’ll have to make contributions for many years to come to charitable organizations we care about,” Burcu said. “And, TPF makes it so easy.”