By Bob Morris
Philanthropy, charity, giving voluntarily and freely … call it what you like, but it is truly a jewel of an American tradition.” — John F. Kennedy Jr.
Evidence of the philanthropic gene that President Kennedy referred to abounds in the Upstate. Every day in Greenville, there are families who have never met — and yet will profoundly impact each other.
One has an adult child with a persistent mental illness who lives an independent and productive life as a member of Gateway. The other is a contributor to Gateway’s capital campaign who will double the number of members that will be served by this internationally replicated model.
One family relishes the performing arts at the Peace Center, The Warehouse Theatre, and South Carolina Children’s Theatre, and has provided the funds to extend the opportunity to participate in these programs in spite of a limited family budget. By doing so, each parent has created a pathway to artistic excellence and inspiration that is wide and inclusive.
One is a college freshman pursuing a degree in journalism at the University of South Carolina and the other is honoring his or her mother, who taught English in her early career at Wade Hampton High School. As a recipient of the Alice Watkins Scholarship, a young woman may follow the example of Mark and Donna Johnston, entrepreneurs who founded Community Journals in 1999.
For seven years the Community Foundation of Greenville, TOWN Magazine, and Elliott Davis have recognized individuals, businesses, and nonprofit organizations with Charitable Giving Awards at a reception and in the November issue of TOWN. It is gratifying to acknowledge outstanding people just before Thanksgiving.
Community Journals recently presented us with an opportunity to extend our coverage of philanthropy all year long across many media formats through a new microsite called Giving Matters. The professional expertise of the team at Community Journals in digital strategies with GVL Today, Upstate Business Journal, TOWN Magazine, and Greenville Journal will enable the Community Foundation of Greenville to connect with a larger audience about the impact of the nonprofit sector in Greenville. In turn, we expect more people will contribute to organizations that improve the quality of life here. I hope you will enjoy learning about the efforts we feature and join with us to increase their impact on our community.
At the time they began the Greenville Journal, a Harvard professor published the book “Bowling Alone,” in which he described a cultural movement away from healthy civic associations and toward isolation. These include a disengagement from civil discourse and withering connections between families on the same streets and in the same ZIP codes. Personal connections more than ever are critical to blast though the noise of sensationalism to articulate the successes of local humanitarian enterprises.
Your personal effort to connect, when added to the efforts of others, creates a movement of service. Collective efforts such as Greenville Women Giving, Greenville Partnership for Philanthropy, and the United Way of Greenville County have an impact above and beyond our individual time and resources. The results of collective giving help serve as a beacon to our young students as well as attract newcomers who bring their own traditions of service and giving. Sharing stories about initiatives like OnTrack Greenville — which brings enhanced academic services and summer-learning opportunities to high-priority middle schools — shares the positive outcomes of such investments. Similarly, sharing stories about Project Hope Academy and its unique academic curriculum elevates successful strategies for students with autism and their families. By sharing these informative and inspirational stories, we hope to strengthen the ligaments that connect all of us.
To learn more about the work of the Community Foundation, please visit cfgreenville.org.
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” — Mother Theresa
Bob Morris is the president of the Community Foundation of Greenville. Visit www.cfgreenville.org for more information.