Serving as CEO for the Community Foundation of Central Illinois is rewarding on so many levels, but the best part of my job is sitting down with people to discuss their charitable interests. In these situations, I frequently ask the question, “What is your dream for our community?”
One recent conversation involved a woman from a small town near Peoria. She was referred to me by a local attorney who knew about the important work we do every day at the Community Foundation.
When I met with her, I found out that she lived most of her life in her hometown and had spent more than three decades working for a local company. While she had no family in the area, her love for central Illinois was obvious.
As we got to know each other, I learned that she was passionate about her local high school. She wanted to give back to the school she loved, but she wasn’t sure how to do it. Together, we identified three areas of interest: music, athletics and agriculture.
The result of our efforts was the creation of a new scholarship for her alma mater, to be funded by her estate. Each year, students who plan to study one or more of these areas of focus will receive generous funding to pursue their passion and help achieve their academic goals. All of this is thanks to a simple referral from an estate-planning attorney who understands the value of a community foundation and what it can provide.
What I remember most about this amazing experience is a statement the donor made to me on the day we signed the final agreement. She looked at me and said, “I’m so grateful that I was referred to the Community Foundation of Central Illinois. I feel at peace knowing that my wishes will be fulfilled. I hope others are lucky enough to work with this wonderful community resource.”
My staff members and I are the lucky ones, as we get to connect people who care with causes that matter. At the heart of our mission is the creation of permanently endowed funds, established by people who care about our community and its future. Their gifts enable continued investment in programs most important to them, long after they are here to see the benefits firsthand.
So let me ask you… What is your dream for our community? Let’s work together and make it happen. iBi
Mark Roberts is chief executive officer for the Community Foundation of Central Illinois. For more information, call (309) 674-8730 or visit communityfoundationci.org.