“Why Can’t We?”
A Q&A with Dr. John McClean
When you go out for coffee with Dr. John McClean, expect to be interrupted.
Every few minutes, a passerby will stop over to say hello or wish him well—former patients or their family members whose lives he touched during his long career as a local oncologist.
His connections to the community made John a perfect fit for serving on—and eventually chairing—the Galesburg Community Foundation board. “John is a passionate, heartfelt man,” says Joshua Gibb, president and CEO. “He’s always considering not just what the Community Foundation can do but what he can do within the Community Foundation.”
As John steps down from his role as chair, we asked him to reflect how the Community Foundation has grown under his leadership.
What inspired you to join the Galesburg Community Foundation board?
I went into healthcare to help people, so when I got the invitation to join the board, it seemed like a natural way to continue helping people and improving the standard of living in our area. The community has been good to me, so I wanted to give back.
As chair, you championed the Mission Impact Investment that helped lead to the Galesburg branch of River Bend Food Bank and a new home for FISH of Galesburg. How did that come about?
We learned about some foundations doing mission impact investing projects. We sat down and said, “Why can’t we?” Soon enough, River Bend Food Bank began to show an interest in establishing a local presence closer to their partners in our region. We also knew the FISH food pantry wasn’t in an ideal location and needed more space. This was exactly the right kind of opportunity, so we began looking for a building to buy as a mission impact investment.
The Community Foundation has also been combating food insecurity through the Hunger Collaborative. What’s special about this effort?
When we looked at efforts to fight hunger in our communities, one word that kept coming to mind was “fragmentation.” As a leader in the region, the Community Foundation thought we could help coordinate this work so that it could do an even better job at feeding those in need.
I believe that food is a right, not a luxury. And I knew that to get this collaboration rolling, it would take money. That’s why I felt it was important to give a significant donation. It’s been exciting to see organizations come to the table together for the first time, and that holds great benefit down the road not just in food, but in other areas as well.
What do you wish more people knew about the Community Foundation?
You don’t have to open a huge fund to be a part of the Community Foundation. Every gift makes a positive impact, no matter its size. We’re here to give everyone an opportunity to make a difference. What’s next? I may no longer be the chairperson, but I still have a couple of years left on the board, and I’m looking forward to the new projects the staff has in store for me. I hope they keep me busy!
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