Board members reflect on their time with the Community Foundation
There's a quiet, strong way that the Quad Cities Community Foundation does its work, says Linda Neuman, and that has been one of the best aspects of serving on the Board of Directors for the last seven years. "The Community Foundation does its transformational magic in a quiet, behind-the-scenes kind of way," Neuman said. "I like that."
Newman is one of two board members whose service ended at the close of 2016. Deann Thoms has served on the board for almost a decade and said she has been committed to the Community Foundation's mission from the beginning. "I've enjoyed the work and I've enjoyed being an advocate for the Community Foundation—I will always be an advocate for it, even as my board leadership comes to a close," she said.
Neuman said there have been many stories of generosity and philanthropy that will stick with her. The Teens for Tomorrow Program, which helps youth experience the grantmaking process with the help of the Community Foundation, has been a particular highlight for her. "We are always taken by the enthusiasm of the T4T students," she said. "To see that emerging interest in philanthropy sparked by that program is exciting."
This past December, she was also moved by the year-end presentation from Scott County Housing Council Director Rick Schloemer on the Quad Cities Housing Cluster and Rapid Re-Housing and Homelessness Prevention work. Schloemer attended the year-end Board of Directors meeting to report on progress made as a result of the Community Foundation's first Transformational Grant in 2015. "He made a wonderful presentation, thanking us," she said. "He sort of got choked up talking about it and it reminded me that awarding the grant was a really good thing for us to do."
Thoms said she has also been inspired by the donors, recipients and programming. "The people associated with the Community Foundation—the staff, the Board members, everybody—they are really committed and passionate," she said. "It makes it a joy to serve on the board."
Thoms has particularly enjoyed witnessing the success of challenge grants. "Those are really exciting because it gets other organizations and donors involved and doubles the impact," she added.
She also likes the way that the Community Foundation is an equal-access organization, meaning there are a diverse number of ways that people can give even if they don't have much. The Giving Circles is an example of that. "It is a wonderful way for people to find a way to give and feel empowered," she said. "People of all socioeconomic backgrounds can be part of the Community Foundation."
Thoms would like to see the Community Foundation continue to grow, particularly in the way the entire community is educated on how it works. "Ten years ago, when I talked about the Community Foundation, I might have gotten quite a few blank looks," she said. "But now when I talk about it, most people have heard about it or understand what it does."
As a parting gift from the Community Foundation, the board members are able to give a grant to an organization or cause of their choice. Thoms has chosen Friends of the Foundation, with the hopes that the Community Foundation will continue to partner with a larger donor base. "It's my favorite cause," she said. "I'd like to see Friends of the Foundation grow and the Community Foundation to really partner with donors to have an even greater impact."
Neuman has decided to give her grant to Marriage and Family Counseling in Rock Island. "It is a small United Way Agency and I was President of their board," she said. Her husband Henry was also once President. "It's a nice way to help support their good work."
She echoed Thom's sentiment about growth for the Community Foundation. "I hope it will continue to thrive," she said. "I hope more and more donors will be willing to make a meaningful contribution, not just for this year, but the future."