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Donor Stories

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. Most notably, Mike served as president of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Karen served as president of the Women's 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."

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.

The Generosity of Many Does the Most Good

ImpactKC. That's the name of a group of professionals who are dedicated to encouraging young people in Kansas City to join together and make a difference in the community.

The team is made up of individuals who pool their money to make an impact. The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation is the behind-the-scenes support system for the ImpactKC Fund, established in 2004. This allows the group to focus on learning about the needs of our region and putting its dollars where they really count.

Each year ImpactKC reviews grant applications from nonprofit organizations and hosts meetings dedicated to expanding the membership's community knowledge and access to volunteer opportunities.

Setting aggressive annual goals to raise a significant amount of money for charitable causes enables ImpactKC to leverage the strength and power of a team, well beyond the sum of its individual parts, through fundraising, education and volunteering.

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.

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