By Carrie Park ’16
It’s hard to believe that Leadership Class of 2017 just ended its kickoff retreat. Participants discovered their strengths through Strengthsfinder and found out if they were a fox, a beaver, an owl, or a dolphin.
“They are a den of foxes,” admitted Executive Director, Colleen Rice.
The group also listened to project proposals from philanthropic groups around the county and made choices for what class projects they are going to work on throughout the coming year based the pitches they heard.
But it wasn’t always that way. Back in the day, classes had to come up with their own project and agree by consensus.
“It took weeks,” Jon Park, ’03 remembered.
One such class that struggled with what project to do was the class of 1996. Ironically, they were “The Brightest Class.”
“We didn’t name ourselves,” Ron Stollar quickly pointed out to me. “I think it was Elaine Reichart ‘92. But we truly did have some bright people in our class.”
While every class wishes for their project(s) to live on, the class of 1996 hit the nail on the head. They decided to create the Endowment Fund.
“Do you know who came up with the idea?” I asked Ron.
“We knew we wanted something with lasting value. Maybe Jeff Holland or Jim Shields. I’ll take credit for it if you like,” he laughed.
Holland was involved heavily in the Western Reserve Land Conservancy at the time and knew the benefit of providing for the future.
“An Endowment Fund is the gift that keeps on giving. It grows and gives annually,” he told me.
The Endowment Fund started modestly with a contribution from every class at the time:
’92- The First Class……$1,850
’93- The Best Class..…..$375
’94- The Finest………….$270
’95- The Greatest………$50
’96- The Brightest…..…$1,990
The total was an impressive $7,730. And it has grown ever since. Over the years, Leadership has been able to extract money annually from it and other sources to benefit participants who otherwise would not have been able to take advantage of the opportunities offered through Leadership. To date, Leadership has provided $53,345 in tuition assistance
Great news, right? Your heart should be growing three sizes right now because Leadership is helping its own participants. But wait. That Endowment Fund was started 20 years ago. Is anyone still contributing to it now?
That is where you come in! In honor of the 20th year anniversary of the creation of the Endowment Fund, we would like to propose a challenge. Every year, we would like to set a goal to contribute an amount equal to that year. For 2016, we would like to appeal to all the classes to come together and contribute $2,016.
“You want $2016 from every class?” Jon Park asked me.
“No, I want $2,016 total,” I responded.
“That’s only $80.64 per class.”
He’s a banker. He’s into numbers.
“Why don’t you ask for more?” he asked.
Again, he’s a banker.
“I have to ask small,” I told him. “Look at the class of ’95. For being, ‘The Greatest,’ they were slackers.”
The amount of $2,016 might seem small, but if we are able to pull together an amount to match the date every year, in five, short years, we will have increased the Endowment Fund by $10,000. That’s phenomenal. Leadership is such a great experience; it should not be one that is limited to those who are financially able. Please consider calling your classmates and scraping together $80.64 so that we can brag full participation from all classes for this worthy cause.
Be Greater than the Greatest. (Still love you class of ’95)