Originally published in Flourishing October 2007.
In the summer of 2001, Legacy, A Regional Community Foundation was in its earliest stages of growth. The organization needed to raise $300,000 to win a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation to permanently fund its operating budget. Executive Director, Pam Moore, and the foundation’s board of directors had a vision. These were people who believed they could make a difference, and I was energized by the opportunity to be involved in this ground-floor opportunity.
So, in November 2001, Family Wealth Management sponsored the first annual ‘Legacy Thanksgiving Banquet’. We invited KAKE 10 News Director, Larry Hatteberg, to be our keynote speaker. Larry graciously accepted our invitation—donating both his knowledge and time. We invited everyone we knew to share in our enthusiasm. Knowing Winfield, I was not surprised by the response: The Baden Square Community Room was filled beyond capacity. With the help of the Winfield Courier and radio station KSOK, Legacy’s message reverberated throughout the community. Within forty-five days of that first banquet, Legacy had a permanent operating fund of more than $600,000.
Now, six years later, Legacy is faithfully living out the vision of its founders. Continuing to forge cooperative relationships with deep-pocketed outside interests, Legacy has brought in more than one million dollars from those interests in only six years. The Kansas Health Foundation has provided $500,000 for community donor support programs and for funding of local projects, and furnished $200,000 for local leadership development programs. The Kaufman Foundation bestowed $100,000 for creating and maintaining a youth philanthropy board—Kids Impact Cowley County. The Kellogg Foundation granted $80,000 to explore rural economic development opportunities. The United Methodist Health Ministries Fund conferred $95,000 for the ‘Tiny Teeth’ oral health program. Clearly, Pam and her board are doing something right.
Here at home, Legacy Regional Community Foundation is an essential, proactive partner with other local non-profit organizations. Legacy is working with Leadership Cowley County, Vision 20/20, Tiny Teeth Oral Health Initiative, Non-Profit Chamber Council, Cowley First Economic Development, Arkansas City Public Education Fund, the Kansas Community Development Initiative, and with Chamber of Commerce offices in Burden, Arkansas City, and Winfield.
Today, local donors and volunteers are using Legacy’s charitable planning expertise to support organizations and programs that enrich our communities. Indeed, as of September 27, 2007, Legacy is managing thirty-nine endowed (permanent) funds, each with its own purpose, totaling $2,200,126. Since that first banquet six years ago, Legacy has distributed $809,711 in grants, benefiting the citizens of Cowley, Chautauqua, and Sumner counties. One of those endowed funds, Promises to Keep, is funded in its entirety by ticket sales for the annual ‘Legacy Thanksgiving Banquet’, benefiting local seniors.
As citizens, donors, and volunteers, we know that the future of our communities depends upon what we do today. Our communities’ needs are great and our opportunities are grand. So, it seems almost providential that Legacy is making it possible for each of us to bring out knowledge of community needs and our distinctive visions of the future together in one place—locally managed and controlled—where we can put our time and money to work in ways that no profit-making enterprise or government entity can match.
Please note that this year’s (2007) ‘Legacy Thanksgiving Banquet’ will be held on November 15, again in the Baden Square Community Room. Our keynote speaker will be Denise Unruh of the South Central Community Foundation in Pratt. Denise will share her experiences of the Greensburg tornado, its aftermath, and recovery. We know that Greensburg’s tragedy carries important lessons for all of us. We will also be sharing video presentations of some of the work that Legacy Regional Community Foundation is advancing in our area. Watch for your invitation, or call us for more information. mh