By Joshua D. Gibb, President & CEO
Galesburg Community Foundation
The decisions you make today about the legacy you wish to leave can change your community forever. I’m reminded of that year after year as the powerful effect of philanthropy sometimes can—and oftentimes does—play out in the most down-to-earth of ways.
Every year, thanks to the generosity of one person, hundreds of Galesburg kids get access to musical instruments, or receive a pair of free, brand new shoes and socks. It might seem too simple to make much of a difference in the greater landscape of need, but it actually does. There is an incredible thing happening in our country right now—one of the greatest transfers of wealth from one generation to the next, which can forever impact our communities. This wealth transfer has a fascinating connection with the late-Jack Larson, a Galesburg resident who makes all of these shoes, socks and instruments possible each year. Jack Larson, you see, got it right.
Jack was widely known in west-central Illinois as the radio host of “Music with Memories,” which aired on local radio stations. Before his passing, he partnered with the Galesburg Community Foundation to start a fund that would provide musical instruments and shoes to local school children. It is one of the most vivid examples we have at the Community Foundation—and perhaps even this community—of what can happen when someone has a vision and makes the choice to connect with a community foundation that is bent on helping people make the world a better place.
Now, Jack’s legacy is setting the example—and pace—of a nation that could harness an incredible amount of wealth for the good of communities if you choose to follow Jack’s lead.
According to recent studies, the United States’ current Transfer of Wealth through 2030 could be as much as $15.4 trillion—trillion, with a “t.” Can you imagine if we were purposeful in the way we used that money? What if some of that money, even a fraction, stayed in our rural communities like Oneida, Roseville, Williamsfield or Elmwood—right in your communities where your wealth was built?
Working with a community foundation like ours can help you consider the communities and causes you love as you make your will and estate plans. That’s exactly what Jack did. Before his passing, he worked with our Community Foundation to ensure his legacy continued long after he was gone. Because of decisions made while he was alive, the Jack E. Larson Endowment Fund continues to support local kids. During the past two years alone, more than 500 local students have received new shoes and socks. This will continue forever.
Charitable giving can certainly sound intimidating, but it’s a straight-forward process that can deeply impact individuals, families and entire communities. As we guide people in evaluating how they can create their legacy, we remind them to first review their financial position. Then we suggest thinking about potential heirs and consider the most appropriate gift to leave. Finally, we recommend using any additional funds to set up an endowment that can benefit a specific cause, or an entire region, through our Community Impact Fund.
It is this final consideration that has the potential to significantly impact future generations forever.
So how will your name live on in our community? If not your name, how will your generosity, however quiet or public you choose to be, contribute to the growth, vitality and very real needs of the community and people you care about? We can’t tell you the answers—but we can help you discern them and guide you through the decision-making process.
At Galesburg Community Foundation, we care deeply about what happens to the money that changes hands during this unprecedented Transfer of Wealth in west-central Illinois, in the state, and across the country. We—like you—want it to do good things, to be a powerful tool for the positive change in your community that can come about when we yield generosity and resources.
Jack did just that. He had the integrity and courage to look ahead and help and it was one of the best decisions he ever made. Jack’s friend Diane VanHootegem, a long time Galesburg District 205 employee who saw firsthand the impact of Jack’s gifts shared, “Jack knew the good people of this region would help carry out his vision and not let the students down. He just always got it right.”
We couldn’t agree more. Let’s get it right for the good of your community together.
Joshua D. Gibb is the president and CEO of Galesburg Community Foundation, a charitable organization that works with donors to start funds that support causes they care about in Knox and Warren Counties, Illinois. For more than 10 years he has helped donors connect with the causes they care about to build stronger, healthier communities. To learn more about how to leave a legacy through your will or estate, contact the Community Foundation at (309) 344-8898 or visit YourGCF.org.