It’s a bit cliché, but as we gear up for Thanksgiving I want to recognize and give thanks for some visionary people. While I might not have known them all personally, they have inspired me in my work and life.
I want to thank:
He will be in Louisville on November 16 as the keynote speaker for our local celebration of National Philanthropy Day. Robert’s inspiring story will be a focal point of the event.
Robert is a man who leads a mission-driven life. In 1988, he “temporarily” set aside his entertainment business goals for another business model, one that would safely collect surplus food from restaurants, hotels and caterers and provide food service training to people on the street who lacked job skills. This side project turned into the DC Central Kitchen in Washington, DC, and has produced over 23 million meals and helped 800 men and women gain full-time employment. Robert Egger is a big thinker, but even better, a big doer.
Philanthropy Day Award Winners
As I mentioned above, Louisville is celebrating National Philanthropy Day on November 16, hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (Greater Louisville Chapter). What a joy to celebrate charitable giving, volunteerism and civic leadership!
I’ll be on the stage helping to hand out awards to the Humana Foundation, Annie Oyler, the Louisville Zoo Youth Board, Marie Porter and Dr. Elizabeth Cressman. We’re also recognizing a fundraising professional, Leslie Buddeke Smart. I am humbled by their generous spirit and passion for philanthropy.
Frederick Harrison Goff
Banker and lawyer Frederick H. Goff was an active and visionary civic leader in Cleveland, Ohio in the early 20th century. While president of the Cleveland Trust Co., he hatched the idea of a “community trust” that could pool the charitable resources of Cleveland's philanthropists, living and dead, into a single, permanent entity. Community leaders would then forever make charitable distributions from the trust for the community’s needs.
From that revolutionary idea in 1914, the first community foundation was born. His concept spread quickly, and today there are over 750 community foundations in the U.S. and some 365 community foundations now thrive in 37 other countries. It’s a personal joy to be part of one of the fastest-growing forms of philanthropy in the world.
Community Foundation Week is November 12-18, coinciding with National Philanthropy Day. We certainly have a lot to celebrate.
Wilson Wyatt, Sr. and Baylor Landrum, Jr.
I am so grateful to these gentlemen for putting their hearts and heads together two and a half decades ago, turning a quiet little institution into a charitable giant here in Kentucky. Since 1984, the Community Foundation of Louisville has been growing and giving. Thanks to their focus and commitment, we just celebrated a remarkable milestone: distributing over $500 million in charitable grants. And truth be told, we are just getting started! I can’t wait until we hit the one billion dollar mark – it will be a wonderful testament to their original vision.
Owsley Brown II
Thank you, Owsley, for your kindness, your generosity and your stewardship. When I first moved to Louisville, I quickly associated him with the Fund for the Arts, Actors Theatre and the Speed Art Museum, all valuable institutions he loved and championed. But now I remember him most as someone who smiled when he saw me, remembered my name, and often offered me a challenge.
I saw Owsley shortly before he passed. I remember like it was yesterday – we were both traveling and just happened to be in the same place, and he reached out to me to mention a collaboration we were working on. He wasn’t feeling his best and he did not have to go out of his way to say a word to me, but he did. He was exceptional, truly a private man for the public good.
Words to live by
Finally, I want to share with you what I put up on my refrigerator door many years ago when my 14-year-old daughter was just a toddler. Nothing fancy, just a white piece of paper and magic marker. I wrote the words out and stuck them down low where she could see them. “What are the two most important things we can be?” I asked. She replied, “Kind and generous.”
These are my words to live by, and I offer them as a Thanksgiving blessing to you. Let us all strive to be kind and generous, and be thankful for those that are.