Voice of the President: What shall we build, together?

Sterling Wiggins

My Dear Community,

There are few greater fans of the Yellow Springs Community Foundation than me, and it has been my privilege to lead this organization for the past four years. Although I have lived in Yellow Springs for nearly 40 years, in the last four years you have taught me so much more about our community, its people and organizations; the deep caring we have for each other and what we can accomplish when we work together. For this I am enormously grateful, and I will take these experiences with me when I step down as president in March.

In many ways, 2017 is a new start for the Foundation. It is a new start because we recently hired our first Executive Director, Jeannamarie Cox. She is doing a marvelous job of carrying out our new strategic plan that you helped shape so the foundation may better serve our community. In this, we are developing new ways of supporting your philanthropic giving and grant making, enhancing our business processes to better support the outstanding work of our local non-profits and stepping up to convene the community.

Recent events in the village remind us that we still have significant work to do to ensure that our community continues to be all we need it to be.  When students in our village feel unwelcome walking downtown because of their race, and are called subhuman and porch monkeys in our schools, it is clear we have more work to do. When a student essay appeared recently in the YS News describing the incident in school, there was not a single letter to the editor about it, no public outcry or community meeting. I admit, I was saddened by the silence.

We must not shy away from this work; not shy away from the difficult conversations about issues in our community. In the past, we have found such conversations both nurture and strengthen our community when we actively engage in them.

Our organization’s founders guide us that the purpose of the Foundation is to “assist, encourage, and promote the well-being of humankind, and primarily the citizens of the Village of Yellow Springs and Miami Township,” even when doing so may challenge our ideals and our comfort. The Community Foundation, through your support, has the financial resources and the duty to assist and encourage individuals and organizations in our village to be active citizens and to address issues like this, and others, in ways that make us all feel more whole and part of the community.

We get to decide every day what kind of community we want to live in and how we want to participate; we have many amazing organizations in this village to help us build it, and that is a beautiful thing. So, let’s activate to build the kind of community we want to live in.  The job of the Yellow Springs Community Foundation is to help us achieve it.  What shall we build together?

In gratitude,

Sterling Wiggins