October 29, 2009 by David Gillaspie
REINFORCING SOCIAL FABRIC
A Dream Team gathered in Hood River recently, five people making a difference in more lives than anyone will know. Larry Bird would have approved. Michael Jordan would have smiled even though none of the five came to shoot a basket or play a game. They weren’t there to resurrect Olympics dreams; they came to the Mid-Columbia to help everyday dreams come true.
The original Dream Team, the group assembled for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, were on a mission to bring basketball gold back to America where the game started. Too many bronze and silver medals made National Basketball Association All-Stars a necessity for international competition. If you care about Olympic gold medals, you send the best athletes.
If you care about your state, your community, then you find a way to make a difference. In the Mid-Columbia the difference makers came from Big Brothers Big Sisters and Hospice of the Gorge, from Home At Last and New Hope Farms, among others. You won’t find Magic Johnson or Charles Barkley, but you will find Stephen Head and Susan Frost.
America needed an Olympic basketball gold medal in 1992 and sent the best. The Mid-Columbia needs the gold in 2009 and met with the best. Representatives from the top five Charitable Trusts and Foundations in the state met to explain how to get the gold.
Who are the top five and what do they do?
The names may not be familiar: The Meyer Memorial Trust? The Ford Family Foundation? The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust? The Oregon Community Foundation? The Collins Foundation? Even if you’ve never heard those names it’s worth noting that two of them are on the list of top 100 foundations in America.
What do they do? You might go to a stereotype and say they spend their time drinking wine and eating cheese at art museum openings, but you’d be missing their commitment to Oregon and its people. You’d be missing how much they care, the human qualities they bring to the table.
The Dream Team assembled in Hood River work for organizations that created the Early Childhood Initiative, the Latino Partnership Project, and the Neighborhood Partnership Fund to help build affordable housing; they contribute to the Oregon 4-H Foundation, preschool programs, watersheds, schools, and dog parks; they give to medical clinics, museums, and churches; they boost river keepers, libraries, and aquariums; they support cities, blood centers, and therapy centers.
The list goes on year after year. Elected and appointed officials do what they can to weave a stronger fabric of society; Foundations and Charitable Trusts work to reinforce the threads, to reduce the gaps people fall through.
The next time you hold your tax bill, imagine what it would be without the work of these Trusts and Foundations. The next time you meet people who receive grants, thank them for the work they do. It’ll make you a better person in the end.