“There’s a pleasure and joy in helping others,” exclaims Charles Gilbert.
By that measure, Charles and his wife, Charlotte, have had a pleasurable and joy‐filled life, having helped more than 30 students advance their education, tithing to their church, giving to charitable organizations, and generously volunteering their time.
Charlotte, who grew up in Connecticut, says, “We were always taught to share whatever you have. My parents always gave whatever they had.” Charles shares similar memories of his parents being “generous in doing things for other people.” A native Rhode Islander, he remembers being 16 working at a food stand at Rocky Hill Flea Market. “I’ve tithed ever since, and 20% to 30% of our income goes to charitable work.”
Charles holds a degree in natural resources from the University of Rhode Island and is a URI Coastal Fellow. Initially a student trainee for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Soil Conservation Service, Charles worked at field offices in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The couple met at a Christian camp meeting in Massachusetts. “He was looking for a Christian wife and I was looking for a Christian husband,” Charlotte explains. The couple married, and Charles’ career with the USDA took them to Georgia and Kentucky.
In 1998, they returned to Rhode Island where Charles worked as an environmental consultant with Charlotte’s brother for their new firm, Boundless Energy, focusing on the marine environment. The company’s first major project, the Neptune Project, involved laying a submarine cable from New Jersey to Long Island, providing 25% of Long Island’s power.
Throughout their moves, Charlotte has been active in the community. In Rhode Island, she was a volunteer food pantry director in Johnston, and has worked as a nurse’s aide. Charles was a Kiwanis Club president in Kentucky and helped organize a historical museum, a service club for high school students, and a tutoring/mentoring reading program for second and third graders.
Of their philanthropy, Charles says, “Once we learned about the Rhode Island Foundation, I said, ‘This is great. We can give now, and later direct its use, after we’ve learned more about local needs.’” The couple’s broad interests include education and basic human needs.