For Jack and Nancy Fontaine, founders of the UGA Fontaine Center, supporting the University of Georgia is deeply personal. Jack attended UGA in 1975, but didn’t complete his degree because of his struggle with drugs and alcohol. Instead, he returned to Houston, Texas, and with the help of his now wife, Nancy, he overcame his addiction.
Twenty-five years later, Jack and Nancy tragically lost their 16-year-old son, John Fontaine Jr., in a car accident caused by a driver who was under the influence of alcohol. Their grief led to their decision to help prevent such tragedies and heartache for other families.
The University of Georgia Fontaine Center was founded in 2006 to help students battling drug and alcohol abuse. “A few years ago, ” Jack recalled, “we started looking at how to take more of a proactive approach.” The center has expanded from assisting with individual cases of alcohol abuse to its current state: comprehensive programs that cover drug abuse, including prescription drugs, as well as issues of interpersonal violence and sexual assault response.
With the Fontaines’ recent gift of $1.5 million, the Fontaine Center will increase the capacity of its Collegiate Recovery Community, as well as expand its proactive educational programming both on campus and throughout the state. “If a child has problems with drugs and alcohol while attending UGA, the problem most likely started before he or she arrived there, ” Jack said. “It was a natural progression to expand into education and programing for younger students.”
“I have a hard time calling us lucky with everything that has happened, but I feel like we need to give back because we’ve been given so much.”
When asked why giving is so important to them, Nancy said, “I have a hard time calling us lucky with everything that has happened, but I feel like we need to give back because we’ve been given so much.” The Fontaines hope their proactive, preventative program can eventually be used as blueprint for other universities and ultimately in Georgia’s middle schools and high schools.