Q&A with Theresa and Dave Gasper

Local entrepreneurs have hearts for community, giving.

Theresa and Dave Gasper have a zest and talent for building things — companies, refurbished homes and neighborhoods, and a stronger community.

Dave Gasper is the former president of a business automation software company and now owns and operates Assisted Patrol, which creates products that help police departments combat personal property theft. Theresa Gasper is the founder of Full Circle Development that buys, renovates and sells vacant homes in the historic South Park neighborhood, with the ultimate intention of turning around rundown, inner-city neighborhoods. Together they share the spirit of giving for their Greater Dayton community.

Q. What has influenced your desire to give both your time and dollars to charity?

Theresa: My mother was very active in our neighborhood, so I grew up with an expectation to give back mostly in the form of alley clean ups and handing out newsletters door-to-door. It also was reinforced in my Catholic education at Holy Angels School and Alter High School. Dave and I have been very fortunate, so it’s important that we pay it forward to help others. The driving force in my life is to try to make a difference.

Dave: I grew up with a Catholic social conscious education as well at St. Anthony School and Carroll High School. It reinforced that there always are people who are better and worse off than us. We have an obligation to make the world a better place.

Q. Theresa, tell us about your company and how it’s revitalizing Dayton.

Theresa: Full Circle Development is a philanthropically motivated project. I grew up in South Park and was the fourth of five generations of my family to live there, so the roots are deep. It was a dream of mine to fix some of the houses. Through Full Circle, I’ve completed 14 projects to date – one of which was my family home and another was the last home my grandmother lived in. The really cool thing is that last summer 18 houses were under renovation, thanks to others who have joined on our mission.

Q. Dave, you also have a passion for education.

Dave: My focus is on education and economic development. Good education and good jobs help a community tremendously. Education opens so many doors, and a good job improves one’s quality of life. More people deserve those two things.

I also serve on the Dayton Early College Academy Governing Board, where I have learned a lot about the challenges of urban education. It starts with creating a foundation and an emphasis on education for a better life. Not everyone has a nurturing and supportive attitude towards education that I had growing up.

Q. How does The Dayton Foundation help you help others?

Dave: The Dayton Foundation’s Charitable Checking AccountSM Service helps streamline our charitable giving, plus they make us more aware of organizations that need our support. I like sitting down at my computer late at night and requesting a contribution from my account to an organization out of the blue. It’s fun! I’m also a member of 100 Plus Men Who Care, which selects a charity each quarter to receive a grant from the group’s Charitable Checking Account. The Foundation makes supporting these charities much easier.

Q. Why is helping others so important to you?

Theresa: It’s part of who I am and how I was raised. I want to set an example for our kids and others around me. So many people in our community are struggling, through no fault of their own, but because policies are in place that make it difficult for them to stay afloat, let alone get ahead. I want to live in a community where everyone has the chance to thrive. Those of us who have the means need to do our part to help others less fortunate. Look at a donation of time, talent or money as an investment in our community, not just as a good deed.

Q. What inspires you about this community?

Dave: Dayton is a great Midwestern town with more to offer than people realize. We have good, friendly and helpful people. The amount of giving through The Dayton Foundation is a fantastic example of the heart of the people of this region. But, I want to see more creativity, more entrepreneurship, more ambitions, risk taking and stretch. Society always has benefited from risk takers and pioneers creating new opportunities for the benefit of others.

Theresa: We’ve traveled a good bit for work and pleasure, but we’ve never found anywhere else we’d rather live. Some people may look at the departure of big corporations in our region in recent years as a negative. I look at it as an opportunity to create a vibrant entrepreneurial environment. Someone once said that you can tell a lot about a community by what is has more of - dreams or memories. We’ve spent too much time looking back. I dream of the future with local, independently owned businesses, restaurants and boutique hotels realized from the dreams of people who took risks and shared their passions with their community.

Q. How would you complete this sentence, “My giving makes me feel____”?

Theresa: Like I’m making a difference in my small corner of the planet and, hopefully, easing someone else’s burden, if only just a little bit.

Dave: As if it is a daily part of our life. We don’t want recognition or acclaim. We just want to make a difference.

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The Dayton Foundation has been helping people help others since 1921 by managing charitable funds, awarding grants to nonprofits and launching community initiatives. Contact the Foundation at (937) 222-0410 or visit www.daytonfoundation.org.