One would normally not associate Valentine’s Day with the Community Foundation. After all, the Community Foundation’s mission is to “enrich the quality of life in the Chautauqua Region,” and it is difficult to see where that ties in with this February holiday. Valentine’s Day emanates the word love, which, on the surface, seems an irrelevant concept to a public foundation. However, it is the simple, intangible concept of love that has led many individuals and families over the years to establish a relationship with the Community Foundation.
Love, as it relates to the Community Foundation, is not meant in terms of tangible qualities, such as showering a significant other with gifts of jewelry, flowers, or chocolates. At the Foundation, it is expressed by donors for the remembrance, honor, or assistance of someone or something dear to their heart. More often than not, a donor’s expression of love is done so through establishment of a charitable fund.
There are many different, personal funds that have been established out of love. Some recent examples include the Melvin Lewellen Memorial Scholarship Fund, Wyman Ansley Scholarship Fund, and the Sarita Hopkins Weeks Excellence in Music Scholarship Fund. All of the individuals for whom these funds were named passed away within the past couple of years. While each one of these funds has a very practical purpose, the family members that set up the funds did so out of love because they wished to honor and remember those who they were very close to. Additionally, by doing so through a scholarship fund means that students in the community will benefit in the name of those loved ones for many years to come.
Similarly, donors also establish funds for the love of community organizations. The Community Foundation houses many designated endowment funds for organizations such as the American Red Cross, Jamestown Audubon Society, Roger Tory Peterson Institute, YWCA, and the Reg Lenna Civic Center, to name of few. In many cases, these endowment funds were established by a donor with great affection for the particular organization. Establishment of a fund, in such cases, allows the donor to show thanks and appreciation for an organization dear to his/her heart, while also benefiting the community.
It would be a stretch to say that all 424 funds at the Community Foundation were established based on the concept of love, but it has certainly entered into the thought processes of many donors. As long as there are community members who wish to remember loved ones or thank organizations that have given so much to them, there will always be ways to do so with the Community Foundation.
With Valentine’s Day this coming Tuesday, take the time to show your love for that significant other but also remember the broader meaning attached to the word. There is love of many things in our life, past and present, whether it is family, friends, or even community. When talking about charitable funds, the Community Foundation can provide you with the means to express your love to those people, places, or organizations closest to you through a lasting memorial, legacy, or endowment. While the Community Foundation accepts many types of gifts, it is the gift of love that will remain the most symbolic.
Published in February 5th edition of The Post-Journal