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Donor Stories

A CEO Who Left His Family's Company To Follow His Heart

Tom Bloch was CEO of H&R Block, the world’s largest tax-preparation firm, and the son of the company's founder. He was making $1 million a year, but something was missing. After much soul-searching, Tom resigned to become an inner-city math school teacher in Kansas City.

Then one night, Tom was surfing the Internet and became worried about the very low youth volunteer participation rate — a concern he shared with his wife, Mary. They transformed their worry into an effort to fuel student volunteerism. Together they founded the Youth Service Alliance of Greater Kansas City.

This is just one of the many charitable passions Tom and Mary have supported through the Thomas M. and Mary S. Bloch Philanthropic Fund, established in 1981 at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. They enjoy helping all of their favorite charities — including universities, the arts, and their synagogue — in an organized and easy-to-manage way.

Promoting Racial Equity in the Medical Field

Like many cities, Kansas City's history includes dismal struggles with racial equity. At the turn of the century, African-American patients, doctors and nurses were restricted to providing and receiving medical treatment at Kansas City's General Hospital #2, a separate facility from General Hospital #1, which served only Caucasians.

Years later, General Hospital #2 merged with General Hospital #1 to become Truman Medical Center. Until that merger, General Hospital #2's School of Nursing operated for 46 years and graduated 715 students.

A group of nurses who attended the School of Nursing established the General Hospital #2 Perpetual Trust Fund in 1990 at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. They share a mutual passion for providing scholarships to African-American students in Greater Kansas City who are attending accredited nursing programs.

Scholarships for Urban Youth

The Kansas City Securities Association, an organization of more than 40 investment professionals in the Kansas City area, established the KCSA Education Endowment Fund in 1986 to provide financial support for tuition, special projects, needs or emergency assistance to students.

KCSA has awarded more than 200 college scholarships totaling an estimated $1.3 million to members of Kansas City's Marching Cobras, student athletes selected by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, student athletes at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and members of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City.

A Legacy of Listening and Building Together

"Do justice; love mercy; and walk humbly with your God," Beth Smith learned as a child. Both parents and grandparents (Lithuanian immigrants) were observant adherents to Judaism. "I wasn't born with a silver spoon but a community spoon in my mouth," Beth mused.

Ed Smith, one of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation's seven founders, and his wife, Beth, were for many years one of Kansas City's dynamic duos. Beth was influenced by the bright and charismatic Marjorie Powell Allen, also a founder of the Community Foundation. They worked together to establish the Central Exchange, an interracial and intergenerational venue where women "could pick up the check." And in 1979, Ed and Beth established the Edward A. and Beth K. Smith Philanthropic Fund.

Ed has since passed on but Beth continues to support the nonprofit sector. She considers her forte to be "drawing strength and wisdom from others; listening and building together." And that is the spirit of the Women's Employment Network Fund — also housed at the Community Foundation — one of the many legacies Beth has given to Kansas City.

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