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Donor Stories

Strengthening Our Community, Investing In Its Future

Philanthropy was a new adventure to Helen Nelson in 1980, but she was committed to giving back to her community. Helen established a donor-advised fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation to organize her philanthropy — and she loved every minute of it.

For nearly two decades Helen appreciated the expertise and research the Community Foundation provided about issues affecting Kansas City. She also enjoyed receiving updates on the impact of her grants. Helen was passionate about supporting downtown revitalization, education, accessible arts and medical research.

At her death, Helen bestowed a living legacy for Kansas City's future generations. Her generosity will live on through the Helen H. Nelson Fund, dedicated to fulfilling Helen's charitable dreams for Kansas City’s future.

A Century of Serving Poor and Needy Children

In the early years of the 20th century, Jacob Loose and his brother, Joseph, built the Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company, marketed as Sunshine Biscuits, into one of the nation's largest producers of cookies and crackers.

Following the deaths of their two infant children, Jacob and his wife, Ella, became passionate about supporting poor and needy children and families in Kansas City.

When Jacob passed away in 1923, his estate established the Jacob Loose Million Dollar Charity Fund Association. It was Kansas City's first $1 million foundation, and it was housed at the First National Bank. Then, the Jacob L. and Ella C. Loose Foundation Fund was established in 1989 at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation to carry out the work of the charitable trust.

From 1920 to 1940, this foundation provided thousands of children with pasteurized milk and ice. As children's needs evolve, the Loose Foundation, with assistance from the Community Foundation, adapts the foundation's grant making strategies to best meet the intent of the original donors.

Passing on Charitable Values to the Next Generation

Mike and Karen Herman taught their children at a young age about the importance of helping others. Their approach was to lead by example, much like Mike's mentor at Marion Labs, Ewing Kauffman. Mike and Karen began talking with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation in 1985 about establishing the Herman Family Foundation Fund.

"I remember one day my corporate salary was published in the paper," Mike said. "Our 12-year-old came home and said, 'Dad! Are we millionaires?!' She wasn't aware of any wealth because we give our money to the community. We want to create our heaven on earth."

Over the years, in addition to giving financially, the Hermans have given their time and talent. They have been driving forces behind numerous civic organizations including Karen's presidency at the Women's Foundation and Mike’s presidency at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

The Herman children enjoy volunteering and approach each donation as an investment. "Our children embrace that some of their inheritance will go to charity," Karen said. "And we're proud to see them give to the causes they care about."

Helping Needy Children in the Northland

In the mid-1930s, NeVada Linscomb, born to a German immigrant family, met Irven Linscomb. Irven, himself born into poverty in Texas, was working for the Chase Bag Company in Kansas City's River Market. Soon Irven and NeVada started their own company, building a successful business that thrived for many years.

It was in 1957 when Irven met Bill Zimmer and joined Zimmer Companies. "Irven was a man of integrity who took only calculated risks and yet was great fun to be with," Bill said.

After Irven died, NeVada opened the Irven E. and NeVada P. Linscomb Foundation Fund in 1988 at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. A year later, Bill persuaded NeVada to set up a charitable trust to ensure that her charitable passions could be realized.

NeVada passed away eight years later, and through the Community Foundation the couple's legacy lives on. The Irven E. and NeVada P. Linscomb Foundation Fund supports services for children in the Northland, including "Miles of Smiles," a mobile dental program.

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