One couple’s goal to support the community during COVID-19
There’s a lot to be said about the power of generosity.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have inspired many donors, like David and Janet, to reflect on how they can best support their communities.
David and Janet have always been avid givers. To expand their philanthropy, the couple opened a donor advised fund with the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation in 2013. They started their fund with a unique donation — a long held coin collection — that was a gift from David’s father.
“I had this very large box of coins from my dad’s estate,” said David. “I wanted to carry on his interest but I didn't want to have those coins. So I took the coins to a dealer and bartered my dad’s many half dollars and silver coins for gold coins.”
His father’s collection, and David’s desire to make a difference, led him to contact the Foundation. David was impressed by the professionalism of the Foundation’s staff and their ability to work with what he had to give. It was the first ever donation of gold coins for the Foundation.
“I remember walking across the parking lot with a briefcase filled with heavy gold coins,” said David. “I was told they had seen a lot of strange things come through the Foundation. They’d received corn and wheat, which surprised me, but never gold.”
A Tradition of Giving
David learned the importance of giving at an early age. His dad was an avid supporter of Boy Scouts of America. He also remembers his mother thinking back on when she used to give an extra dollar to the grocer during the Depression, because she knew he was helping others who couldn’t pay. This provided David an example of generosity that has remained with him to this day.
Over the last seven years, David and Janet used their donor advised fund to support arts organizations like the Park Square, History and Ten Thousand Things Theaters for their work with public schools students and incarcerated adults.
“We have a deep appreciation for the local arts and all they offer the community,” said Janet. “The Twin Cities is well known for its concerts and the theaters; those were the organizations that we gave to before the virus hit.”
A Generous Response to Crisis
Recent events forced the couple to look at life, and their giving, differently.
“These are very different times that require different thinking,” David said. “We've been fortunate enough to have this money and we have an obligation to direct it. Obligations change when we have greater circumstances.”
Janet couldn’t agree more.
“We need to pay attention to where the greatest needs are now and how we can help meet those needs,” she said.
In the wake of COVID-19, the couple made it their purpose to support organizations that provide essential services to the community, such as Second Harvest Heartland and the Midway YMCA.
David and Janet have a longstanding relationship with Second Harvest, giving to the organization long before they opened their fund.
David developed a relationship with the YMCA while participating in their yoga program, which sparked an interest in supporting their child care programs.
“Their yoga program essentially got me walking and allowed me to avoid back surgery,” said David. ”When I went to class I’d see the childcare center. I’d look in the window and see what the kids are up to, and that connection helps. I just think it's a wonderful program.”
The phrase "We're all in the same storm but we're not all in the same boat," came to mind for Janet when describing the current state of our country, which has inspired them to give more than ever.
A Partnership with the Foundation
“Working with the Foundation has given us the opportunity to give these gifts during our lifetime,” David said. “As funds go, it's a modest amount of money, but we've done extraordinary things with it because of the help and great care the fund has had with the Foundation.”
The couple encourages other donors to take a deeper look at why they are giving.
“The needs are great now,” said David. “So rather than having money in the bank, it’s best to put it in the hands of the people. It’s important to us to support local programs."
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