In the Community
You’re Here NowMarch 03, 2015
The last 20 years of my life have been spent doing the work of community building, both as the CEO of a community foundation and as a volunteer. The first 12 of those 20 years were spent in Michigan, and I did love it there. There were serious issues that needed to be addressed. There were also great people, generous donors and hard-working nonprofits that created the recipe for accomplishment in addressing the many concerns. We had a strong corporate sector, and these generous businesses encouraged their employees to be an active volunteer force. We had a large and visionary group of private foundations that partnered with the community foundation, financially and in other ways. And we all worked together to continually improve the quality of life in that corner of the world.
But I’m here now. And there are serious issues here that need to be addressed. There are also great people, generous donors and hard-working nonprofits. We have less of a corporate sector and do not enjoy a large private foundation community. But we have many young, experienced retirees who have landed here and whose capacity and creativity can fill many volunteer and financial gaps. I love it here as well.
If you’re one of those individuals who came from elsewhere, either to work or retire here, have you begun to understand the serious issues in the Lowcountry? Have you started to develop a vision of what could be done and how you could help?
While it is appropriate to support the university where you spent four years, how about the community where you are spending this time of your life? While the symphony and conservancy and library 1,000 miles from here may have touched you at one time in amazing ways, so can similar organizations in your new home.
I have heard people say that they sometimes feel those in poverty are “rewarded” with “free gifts,” unlike those of us “who work for a living.” I think it is important to recognize that all of us are, and have been, the beneficiary of the “free gifts” of many to libraries and schools, parks and trails, recreational and health facilities, medical research, youth clubs and groups, museums, performing arts centers, historic sites and churches. Without scholarships, I would not have gotten through college. Many of these amazing things have not been supported by tax dollars or governments, or only partially so. But the gifts and generosity of many have made these things possible for all of us—whether in poverty or wealth, employed or not. Since we have all benefited—both where we may have lived at an earlier time and here—we also have a responsibility to give back. I gave much to my community in Michigan; it is time for me to give here.
Are you investing in your new home, building community with your dollars and your time, just as you may have done in the places from which you came? If you don’t know where to start, call me, or any of the team at the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. Through Lowcountry Volunteer Connections, a Web portal matching volunteers to volunteer positions, we can help you get involved. Through our current knowledge of the area, and our soon-to-be-launched Giving Marketplace (another Web portal), we can help you research the many nonprofits in the area that are working to alleviate suffering, provide education, clean the environment, care for the animals, or one of many, many potential areas that tickle your fancy and focus your passion. We can also make structuring your own philanthropy easy and affordable.
Many of you have done amazing work, LIVING GENEROUSLY, at other times and locations in your life, and for that I know that many are grateful. Now consider doing amazing work here. Because you’re here now.