Celebration of Giving 2018

 

Guest Author – Chuck Robinson, Whatcom Community Foundation Board Member and Grants & Programs Committee member  

I’ve been a member of the grants committee since joining the board of the Whatcom Community Foundation in 2014. My experience has been educational, gratifying, and frustrating. It’s been educational in that I’ve learned so much about our community, its needs, and the programs that exist to meet those needs. I’ve been so gratified witnessing the level of charitable giving that exists in our community. Appreciating the profound impact those resources have on families, who receive support from funded programs. 

So, why am I frustrated? The needs in Whatcom County far outstrip the resources that the Community Foundation has available to make grants. Everyone on the committee expresses the same frustration as we pass over opportunities to invest in the health and welfare of our beloved community.

Please don’t misunderstand, despite my frustration, what I feel most is gratitude. I’ve never felt that more strongly than at our recent Celebration of Giving event. For years the Community Foundation invited grant recipients to come together to make connections and receive checks. In a separate event, we’ve honored donors to the Community Foundation. This year, we combined these events and all of us wondered why we’d never done that before. Donors met grants recipients and thanked them for the work they do in our community. Recipients thanked donors for making their work possible. Everyone celebrated the spirit of generosity which permeated the atmosphere.

Did I mention optimism?  It’s sometimes difficult to feel optimistic when one sees all the challenges our neighbors face daily. But linked with that spirit of generosity was a powerful sense of optimism. Staff members from agencies receiving grants talked about the programs that the funding makes possible and the amazing results of those programs. The epitome of that optimism was experienced as the Youth Philanthropy Project (YPP) committee stepped onto the stage, sharing their grant awards. The YPP committee comprised of local high school students, similar in structure to the grants committee on which I serve, reviews requests and makes decisions about which proposals to fund. There were few dry eyes in the room as the students told why they chose to be on the committee and what led them to select the programs for funding. The future of philanthropy is in good hands.

If you want to feel the gratitude and optimism many of us feel, consider donating to the Whatcom Community Foundation. The funds will improve life here and the evidence is clear, giving makes us feel better. Also, please thank the folks that work so hard in the nonprofit agencies in our community. They not only make things better for those they help directly, but they make this a much better place to live, and gratitude — just like generosity — increases well-being.   Here’s to all of us having a greater sense of well-being.

To learn more about charitable giving at the Community Foundation please contact Rachel Myers, Philanthropic Advisor & Programs Manager at 360.671.6463.