Billy Walters considers his greatest and longest-lasting achievement to be his philanthropic activities and unwavering devotion to helping the people around him.
He has been a frequent donor, volunteer, and patron of nonprofit organizations dedicated to serving not just Las Vegas, but communities around the country. Billy and his wife Susan were honored as Las Vegas Philanthropists of the Year in 1997.
Nearest to Walters’ heart is Opportunity Village, a Las Vegas-based nonprofit that provides employment, vocational training, and recreation services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Inspired in part by his son Scott, who at the age of seven underwent surgery for a brain tumor that left him with significant brain damage and limited ability to care for himself, Walters has been a consistent and dedicated advocate for Opportunity Village for the past 20-plus years.
For more than two decades, Walters dedicated himself and his many friends into the plight of the disabled, with hard work, countless unselfish hours and a belief that the world is better served if we can share our talents and abilities. Indeed, Walters has helped to raise more than $50 million dollars for Opportunity Village.
The work with Opportunity Village extends far beyond attending fundraisers. Walters has created a culture within The Walters Group of supporting Opportunity Village and inspiring others to do the same. Walters also regularly encourages his contacts at the Las Vegas hotels, casinos, and resorts to employ Opportunity Village’s clients and utilize Opportunity Village’s business offerings.
Through his commitment to Opportunity Village, Mr. Walters has given thousands of youth and adults with severe intellectual disabilities an opportunity to have the sense of pride and purpose that comes from earning a paycheck. He has given the families that love and support these youths and adults a sense of hope for a better tomorrow. His generosity of spirit, mind and wherewithal have enabled the organization to become one of the most respected habilitation organizations of its kind. More details about Billy’s relationship with Opportunity Village can be found here.
Read Linda Smith’s moving tribute to Billy Walters here.
During his time at Pensacola Federal Prison Camp, Billy had the opportunity to get to know and mentor nearly two dozen men who sought his advice on a range of matters. Many of these men believed the time they served in confinement left them wholly unprepared for the world that awaited them. These heartbreaking conversations inspired Billy to devote his time, energy and resources to finding long term solutions in reducing recidivism. He found in HOPE for Prisoners the bridge that connects the desire to succeed with the tools and resources to execute. Billy and Susan have donated a substantial gift to HOPE to build the “Billy Walters Center for Second Chances” – the new facility that provides comprehensive services to help former inmate build new lives they can be proud of.
Countless other organizations have benefited from Billy Walters’ generosity. The Walters’ have also made meaningful contributions to the Nevada Cancer Institute, Nathan Adelson Hospice, the largest non-profit hospice in Southern Nevada, Nevada State College in Henderson, the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund and for Clark County military families facing financial hardship. He has sponsored Boy Scout Good Turn, a program responsible for collecting 467 tons of food through the Scouting for Food project and the Las Vegas Sun Camp Fund, a scholarship for Southern Nevada’s kids to attend summer camp. The Walters also donated the “The Walters Family Classroom” to the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. Huge animal lovers, the Walters’ helped open the Lied Animal Shelter, the first no-kill shelter in Las Vegas, and created a $250,000 veterinary scholarship fund.
Equally significant are Mr. Walters’ personal acts of generosity. There are dozens of stories of Mr. Walter’s secretly giving aid, such as paying for a funeral for a poor single mom whose son was shot in a gang shooting; or of an employee whose daughter was killed in a car accident and could not afford a burial; or providing for the family of a bartender who was diagnosed with and ultimately succumbed to a terminal disease. The Walters have quietly contributed money to fund full scholarships for underprivileged students and have purchased a mobile home for a single mother who fell on hard times.