Sharing One’s Blessings

Image taken before COVID-19 restrictions.

For Katherine Wise, giving is a family value

Philanthropy is a value Katherine Pharibe Wise learned at an early age. Both her parents were committed to helping others, often under the radar and without recognition.

“My father was incredibly generous, always looking to the needs of others first,” she says. “As a child, I was taught that you do these things because it’s the right thing to do. I was taught if you have two coats, you give one to someone else.”

Wise also recalls how her mother funded the tuition of a few classmates at her private elementary school outside Boston. “I didn’t know about it until I had left the school, and the children she supported never knew who had given them the money,” Wise says. “My mother taught me that it’s not important that your name be attached to such gifts.”

In fact, that lesson initially gave Wise reservations about discussing her own philanthropic journey, but she reconsidered with the hope of inspiring others to give.

“By helping other people, we really do help ourselves, too,” she says. “We’re all in this together.”

Teach your children

Wise instilled the importance of giving in her own children when they were young — well before they had any concept of financial gifts.

For example, Wise remembers how her three kids would get up early on snow days and sneak next door to shovel their elderly neighbor’s path before he awoke. “I wanted to teach my children to be good neighbors,” she says. “That was very important to me.”

And every year at Christmas time, Wise would give each child a roll of quarters to dole out to Salvation Army bell-ringers.

Now ages 24, 26 and 29, those same kids are applying what they learned about giving to support causes they care about most — and they’re doing so with the help of the Community Foundation of Louisville.

‘No greater joy’

Wise has long achieved her philanthropic goals with the support of CFL, where she holds a Charitable Checking Fund. The program is a simple way for fundholders to contribute to a variety of causes that are important to them. For Wise, those causes range from educational and athletic opportunities for low-income youth, to organizations that protect the environment.

“I am fortunate to have assets to give away,” says Wise, adding that she and her sister established charitable trusts utilizing their parents’ estate. “That way our children and perhaps their children can give money away to support the things that they care about.”

Wise has since helped her children set up their own charitable funds, and in recent years, the family has started a new tradition — inspired by the quarter rolls they would donate to the Salvation Army around the holidays. Now at Christmas, each family member researches and then chooses a new nonprofit to support based on what moves them.

“I grew up wanting to give away more than I took,” Wise says. “To me, there’s no greater joy than to be sharing one’s blessings.”