The Minneapolis Parks Foundation (MPF) entrusted the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations with their endowment late last year, in an effort to continue the great legacy of the Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board.
"Let’s donate it all"
Louise Harris enjoys helping people and making art. Her commitment to giving has allowed her to combine both her passions while creating unique masterpieces.
For more than 15 years, she has been creating eco-friendly art. What was initially an accidental pastime has turned to a rewarding business.
The idea to utilize furnace filters to make art came to Louise one day after breaking down a used furnace filter in her garage. In the process of recycling the cardboard, she noticed the aluminum rings holding the filter’s insulation in place. Finding beauty in the bendable rings and repetitive circle patterns, Louise begin to play around to create her version of sustainable art.
After rave reviews from friends and family, Louise began selling her work both locally and nationally as LH Originals. All of the sales from her work go to charity, benefiting local, national and international organizations.
“I think I'm probably at about $250,000 in giving from the artwork (LH Originals) and that goes to 15 different organizations and it ends up being a fairly equal distribution,” said Louise. “So if you buy a piece of art for $100, I donate $100 and I absorb all of the rest of the expense related to it.”
Louise considers giving part of her genetic tapestry.
Her mother raised her and her two sisters with the mindset of giving being part of their financial imprint. As an adult, she considers herself fortunate enough to be able to give back to communities, organizations and issues she cares about in various ways, which in addition to her artwork includes volunteering and other charitable giving.
“I remember I’d get my babysitting money,” said Louise. “And if you got $10 for babysitting, you put away at least three for savings and then you'd have a little bit for spending and then you’d save what you want to put up for giving or donation.”
Establishing a legacy
In 2014, Louise decided to support her personal passions long-term by establishing a legacy donor advised fund with the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations. While revising her will, her lawyer suggested meeting with foundations to discuss her options. After finding out what was available, Louise created a future fund and plans to donate her entire estate to it.
“It just felt like a really natural thing to do,” said Louise. “I decided I would like to give everything away. I always knew at the very least I wanted to make sure I was always donating 50 percent to charity in my passing, and then it really became more about ‘let’s just donate it all.’”
Named in memory of her father, Charles Harris, and her passion to “love well,” the C. Harris Lovewell Fund will give to organizations close to Louise’s heart, forever. It will support several organizations, including Gilda's Club Twin Cities, where she is currently the Board Chair, and the American Craft Council.
When she’s not creating art or volunteering for Gilda’s Club, Louise can be found teaching organization effectiveness at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota or the University of Minnesota. She also leads Praeeo, a consulting company she started, which provides organization effectiveness, leader and culture development, large-scale transformation and employee engagement services.