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Donor Stories

Doing More Than Just Wishing for Health and Happiness

The hopes and dreams behind every coin tossed into a fountain on the Country Club Plaza live on because the coins are donated to the Plaza Fountain Fund for Children's Mercy Hospital at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. It is a tradition that picked up momentum more than two decades ago.

"The Plaza had seven filling stations and Miller replaced them with fountains in 1985," said Jeannette Nichols, widow of Miller Nichols who founded the fund. "He didn't think too much about people putting coins into the fountains, but when they did he wanted to give the money to Children's Mercy Hospital. He always had a great affinity for it."

Miller Nichols hoped that these coins could provide seed money for an endowment for Children's Mercy Hospital, and he approached the Community Foundation confident that his wishes would be carried out beyond his lifetime. Indeed, the Plaza Fountain Fund will continue to memorialize the wishes of its founder.

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.

Our Community Comes Full Circle

In 1983, a grant from the Hall Family Foundation helped establish the Hispanic Development Fund to build an endowment for programs that foster expression of Hispanic culture and improve the quality of life for Hispanic families in Greater Kansas City.

One year later, the Hispanic Development Fund created a scholarship fund for students of Hispanic descent who are pursuing a college education. Since its inception, the fund has awarded more than 4,000 scholarships, totaling more than $3 million.

"The Hispanic Development Fund's Scholarship Program continues to be one of the few local scholarship programs in the country that consistently award more than 80 scholarships each year," said Ramon Murguia, Hispanic Development Fund Board Chair. "We are proud that our scholarship fund has contributed to the success of many, and we plan to continue investing in our community’s future by providing support for education."

Providing a Social Education

When Darcy Howe's children were 12 and 10, she and her husband, John Black, planted a seed of giving. Hoping to give the kids perspective on the world outside of their comfortable upbringing, they set up the Katie and Andrew Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation in 2000. "The idea was to put structure around our parenting on financial issues and the kids' social education," Darcy said.

Each year Katie and Andrew review the fund's returns and get involved by going on site visits to their favorite charities. Darcy says making a financial donation is only part of the fund's benefit. "It's not just about the money. The fund has had a ripple effect in getting the kids more involved in volunteer efforts. They're discovering which causes mean the most to them, like their support of Ronald McDonald House. This philanthropic self discovery is important for their future and the future of our community."

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