In both word and deed, the late Helen Diller supported this axiom. It is also the principle and philosophy that continue to guide the Diller family’s philanthropy.
A native San Franciscan, Helen partnered with her husband, real estate developer Sanford Diller, in more ways than one. From the time of their meeting as fellow undergraduates at the University of California, Berkeley, and throughout a marriage that boasted more than 60 years, the like-minded Dillers made extraordinary and far-reaching philanthropy an enduring part of their lives.
With thanks to the largesse of the Helen Diller Family Foundation (which was established in 1997, focusing on education, science, Jewish youth, and the arts), the lives of all generations have been influenced and impacted, as have programs and institutions in the Bay Area and around the world.
Just some of the Bay Area’s most significant projects include: the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus, which specializes in leading-edge research to detect, treat, and prevent cancer. There is the entry courtyard of the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and galleries at the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The departments of Jewish Studies at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz received substantial endowment support. An international Diller Teen Fellows leadership program presently operates in 32 communities in the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Israel, and Argentina. Children and families are served through the creation of the Helen Diller Playground at Dolores Park, Helen Diller Play Area at Julius Kahn Park, and (currently in process) the Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds.
And now, playing off a major focus on places and spaces that promote the greening of the environment, sustainability, and avenues for people across generations to interact have informed the Diller family’s significant $3 million grant to the Jewish Home.
In an area that is predominately urban, the trees on the Jewish Home’s campus stand tall and the flora lush. This landscape will be made even more abundant and beautiful, and vibrant with life and activity, when the Helen Diller Family Foundation’s gift enhances the Jewish Home’s redevelopment of its campus with the addition of two parkettes, and helps spruce up the space that currently surrounds the Home’s café courtyard park and fountain.
Jackie Safier, the Diller’s daughter, notes that, as real estate developers, she and her family are well aware of how people’s surroundings and connection to the landscape affect their sense of well-being. The Jewish Home’s new vision of delivering services to Jewish seniors in a holistic, attractive environment will help the quality of the lives of all who are served and work at the facility, she observes.
“As new supporters to our campaign, the Diller’s gift is so inspiring,” says David Friedman, chair of the fundraising campaign for the Jewish Home’s redevelopment project. “I’m very pleased the Helen Diller Family Foundation is endorsing the important work we do, and gratified that the Diller family believes the Jewish Home’s project and programs are worthy of their support.”