Being Boston: Foundation donates $100K for 100 non-profit organizations

Bill Cummings grew up in Medford, and has grown into one of the wealthiest business owners in the state.

Now, Cummings isn't satisfied sitting on that success, and has signed onto the "giving pledge" to donate most of his wealth back to the community.

The Cummings Foundation has donated $100,000 to 100 non-profit organizations, totaling $10 million in donations for the 100K for 100 program.

The event is annual, meaning Cummings is donating $10 million every year.

"I don't think of it as proud so much as happy," Cummings said. "We really enjoy it, the opportunity to confront all these happy people."

In his book, "Starting Small and Making It Big: An Entrepreneur's Journey to Billion-Dollar Philanthropist," Cummings talks about growing up in a one-bedroom flat with his family in Medford.

Cummings graduated from Tufts University, and traveled the country, selling Vicks VapoRub and Gorton's Fish.

"I went from smelly Vick's to smelly fish," Cummings joked.

He later rejuvenated a company in his hometown, and things took off from there.

"I made a lot of money peddling fruit punch to colleges, to universities," Cummings said. "Old Medford fruit punch."

Cummings moved that company to Woburn, bought property there, and then his real estate empire blossomed. Cummings Properties' success made the donations possible.

"Businesses have an obligation to help the philanthropy needs of our community," Cummings said.

Joan Kulash's program Community Inroads, a group that helps place under-represented groups on non-profit boards in Lawrence and Haverhill, is one of this year's recipients.

"It meant the world, also to us to feel that Cummings believed in us," Kulash said.

The recipients are all small non-profits, based in Eastern Massachusetts and representing 40 different cities and towns.

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Cummings hopes they'll continue to pay it forward.

"We really are working with small organizations," Cummings said. "This is a festive time for them to come, meet friends in other organizations and share ideas."

Cummings was the first philanthropist in the state to sign onto the pledge, spearheaded by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.