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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.

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.

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.

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."

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