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Donor Stories

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.

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."

A CEO Who Left His Family's Company To Follow His Heart

Tom Bloch was CEO of H&R Block, the world’s largest tax-preparation firm, and the son of the company's founder. He was making $1 million a year, but something was missing. After much soul-searching, Tom resigned to become an inner-city math school teacher in Kansas City.

Then one night, Tom was surfing the Internet and became worried about the very low youth volunteer participation rate — a concern he shared with his wife, Mary. They transformed their worry into an effort to fuel student volunteerism. Together they founded the Youth Service Alliance of Greater Kansas City.

This is just one of the many charitable passions Tom and Mary have supported through the Thomas M. and Mary S. Bloch Philanthropic Fund, established in 1981 at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. They enjoy helping all of their favorite charities — including universities, the arts, and their synagogue — in an organized and easy-to-manage way.

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.

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