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Donor Stories

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.

Leading the Way to a Charitable Lifestyle

Don Chisholm was a talented lawyer at the firm of Stinson, Mag & Fizzell, now Stinson Leonard Street. His legacy to Kansas City reaches beyond his chosen profession, and his vision will be appreciated for generations to come.

A strong supporter of charitable giving and a mentee of the legendary Arthur Mag, Don introduced his clients to the benefits of contributing their estates to the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation to support their favorite charitable causes.

One of Don’s many claims to fame was drafting documents to establish the Jacob L. and Ella C. Loose Foundation, Kansas City’s first million-dollar charity. Don served on that foundation’s board for 41 years. When the idea for a community foundation was proposed, Don was there to help it along as a founding director, and in 1984 played a key role in establishing many of the funds added during that critical year.

During his lifetime, Don helped open new doors to charitable giving. Today, many attorneys, accountants and financial advisors follow his lead, and for several years, the Don Chisholm Memorial Fund recognized special professionals in their commitment to helping clients give back.

Revitalizing the Heart of Kansas City

The Dickinson family's roots in the region run deep. Gary grew up on a family farm in northern Missouri and met Ann, from Hannibal, in college. Ann and Gary raised four children and pursued an active life of community involvement during their 30 years of marriage.

Gary founded Bank Midwest in the early 1970s and oversaw its impressive growth until he was tragically killed in a car accident two decades later. Ann continued Gary's legacy as chair and owner of Dickinson Financial Corporation, headquartered in Kansas City.

In 1998, Ann and her family established the Gary Dickinson Family Charitable Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation to fulfill the family's wide range of charitable priorities. The Dickinsons are especially supportive of Kansas City’s downtown revitalization, a tribute to Gary's passion for local and regional economic development.

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

An Evening at the...

More than 100,000 gallons of saltwater filters through a large pump room every 30 minutes beneath the Helzberg Penguin Plaza at the Kansas City Zoo to keep the nearly 70 birds on exhibit hap...

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The Role of...

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Northland Donors Gather...

For more than two decades, philanthropists, volunteers and community leaders have gathered every year to celebrate the hard work and dedication of the Northland Community Foundation and its ...

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