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Donor Stories

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.

Lessons From A Love Story

Pete Levi's father, Kurt Levi, fled to America from Germany during Adolf Hitler's reign, leaving behind his sweetheart, Ruth, who would become his wife — and Pete's mother. Years later, sorting through his parents' belongings, Pete stumbled across dozens of beautifully composed letters, handwritten in German, from his father to his mother during the time they were apart.

Pete hired an expert to translate the letters. With each translation, Pete recognized that he had an historical treasure on his hands. Each letter offered a snapshot into daily life during a pivotal time in history, all wrapped up in a love story.

Pete established the Levi Family Foundation for the Study of Holocaust Archives Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. Now others can experience history through the heartwarming correspondence between his parents all those years ago.

And to think that in 1995 the letters were sitting in a closet in Kurt's Plaza apartment in an old tattered box—the same box they had been in since 1938!

A rich history of giving back to the region

Arthur E. Stilwell founded Kansas City Southern in 1887 with a bold vision to provide a direct north-south rail route to the Gulf of Mexico, moving grain, coal, lumber and other minerals across a growing nation.

Considered to be eccentric during a time when other railroads adopted an east-west route, Stilwell pushed forward with his dream of the north-south rail line, undaunted by those who labeled his aspirations unrealistic. Stilwell's strategy—and Kansas City Southern—was an unqualified success.

For more than a century, the leaders and hard-working railroaders at Kansas City Southern have embraced Stilwell's tenacious ingenuity, making Kansas City Southern what it is today. Deeply committed to the community, the company established the Kansas City Southern Charitable Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation in 1993 and later launched a matching gifts program to encourage employees to experience the joys of charitable giving.

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.

During her lifetime, Beth considered 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.

Giving Blog

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