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Donor Stories

Lessons From A Love Story

Pete Levi's father, Kurt Levi, fled to America from Germany during Adolf Hitler's reign, leaving behind his sweetheart, Ruth, who would become his wife — and Pete's mother. Years later, sorting through his parents' belongings, Pete stumbled across dozens of beautifully composed letters, handwritten in German, from his father to his mother during the time they were apart.

Pete hired an expert to translate the letters. With each translation, Pete recognized that he had an historical treasure on his hands. Each letter offered a snapshot into daily life during a pivotal time in history, all wrapped up in a love story.

Pete established the Levi Family Foundation for the Study of Holocaust Archives Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. Now others can experience history through the heartwarming correspondence between his parents all those years ago.

And to think that in 1995 the letters were sitting in a closet in Kurt's Plaza apartment in an old tattered box—the same box they had been in since 1938!

Inspiring Gifts, Large and Small

Charmingly down to earth, Don and Adele Hall have long been known for their stellar reputation, which is synonymous with philanthropy. Arts organizations, hospitals, universities and countless nonprofits have benefited from their time and championship. In 1982, the couple established the Donald J. and Adele C. Hall Donor Advisory Fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, which is also the beneficiary of Don’s time and talent as a founder and Adele's service as board chair years later.

Don and his late wife, Adele, gave credit to their families for passing on philanthropic values. Together they created a giving philosophy: "One ounce of volunteer participation gives the management of a nonprofit the elbow grease and time to get the job done," Don said. "Even getting just a little involved in an organization that does good is exciting."

It’s impossible to quantify the total impact of the couple's philanthropy on Kansas City, including major commitments to the University of Kansas and Children’s Mercy Hospital. The Halls themselves never focused on the grand scale of what has been accomplished. They looked to the future. And so the list of projects blessed by Don and Adele continues to grow — one human investment at a time.

 

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 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.

Ed has since passed on but Beth continues to support the nonprofit sector. She considers 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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