Donor Stories

Please enjoy three donor stories below. Donors who willingly share with us how they achieved their philanthropic goals. Each individual donor receives our full gratitude and deep appreciation. Thank you to our philanthropic partners!

truths and treasures ... legacies and learning

Journey to becoming a philanthropist, realized

truths and treasures ... legacies and learning

Imagine what it would be like if you had a letter from a favorite aunt or friend offering a story from her life and a few truths she’d learned along the way. Chances are, you’d treasure it forever. This week the Community Foundation had a treasured meeting to ask questions and hear from Millicent Clarke-Maynard, known to many as, Millie.

Millie retired in 2012 after 33 years teaching students at Ithaca City School District’s Beverly J. Martin Elementary School. A second grade teacher, she bonded and focused on kids. She keeps in touch with many of her former students. Her writing journal assignments were legendary. What is one of her fond memories?  Today she sends those writing journal to her students upon their high school graduation. She loves to hear how much it means to them to be remembered. What a blessing to have a connection with a mentor, to share a good experience and renew a relationship.

Millie gave so much of her time and resources to students, to the school and to the PTA. Ever including others, the Multicultural Dinner was named by the PTA when Denise Gomber was the principal and continues today. The annual dinner, held in honor of Millicent Clarke-Maynard, in appreciation for her years of work in the Ithaca community with children and families, and her dedication to equity, access, and education as a human right for all.

Millie’s path to teaching began in Harlem in a true community neighborhood with a mother, father, grandmother and neighborhood parents all guiding her. Many lessons shaped Millie but her mother, a high school graduate, instilled in her a goal to get an education. Thus her dream to be an educator started in kindergarten. She loved books and often visited a public library near her home.

Very quietly Millie has been giving her time and donating her resources to Tompkins County. She believes our greatest legacy is our children and the impact they will have on making this world a better place to live. Through that example she shares her love of books and provides access to them. She gives opportunities to engage and empower youths who are next in line to provide for this community. A place for young people to take a role now, to express their ideas.

In short, the values, strong sense of community and education strengths that Millie’s family gave her, she gives back.

Millie and her husband, Willoughby, have chosen Community Foundation to establish their family legacy, a donor-advised fund, named the Clarke-Maynard Fund. They wish for the PTA dinner to keep going, to invest in getting youth books to young families and to donate every year to sponsor a “students” table at the Dorothy Cotton Institute annual Human Rights Gala. Millie’s love of community brings students and mentors together to empower them and help build their dreams to a fulfilling life.

Thank you, Millie, for your warm spirit of giving and for being a mentor to many in this world. You have been a dedicated philanthropist for many years.

For more information on giving opportunities, please contact Nancy Massicci, Chief Development Officer, or 607-272-9333, ext. 205.

Unrestricted gifts are oft-neglected, but not from these two local artists

Generosity of Two

Unrestricted gifts are oft-neglected, but not from these two local artists

Thomas Bruce and Judith Pratt are two people who intimately know the workings of the nonprofit world both in Ithaca and across the country. The two spent years working in arts organizations, serving on nonprofit boards, and for the past 10 years, they have been loyal donors to the Community Foundation of Tompkins County. Bruce grew up in Ithaca and spent years traveling the country as a freelance stage manager and lighting designer, before becoming the director of Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute in 1992. Tom is currently retired and makes electronic music that he performs and releases on Bandcamp. Pratt has lived in Ithaca since 1983, teaching theater classes at Ithaca College and Wells College, reviewing theater for the Ithaca Journal and writing in the fundraising office at Cornell. She is a novelist and playwright and has produced her own and others’ plays, which she describes as “basically creating a little nonprofit.”

The two said their experiences in the nonprofit world have influenced them as donors. Pratt has held board positions on the Community Arts Partnership and Community Argos Partnership, while Bruce has been a board member of Opera Ithaca, Kitchen Theater and Community Arts Partnership. They have seen both successful and unsuccessful nonprofits, which they said often depends on a well-informed and prepared board.

The Community Foundation of Tompkins County is an example of a successful one. The foundation works with local nonprofits and makes grants to support efforts to help the Tompkins County community. Bruce and Pratt said what drew them to the Community Foundation was its ability to foster collaboration between nonprofits and donor retention, focusing on collaboration between missions and nonprofits in Ithaca. “I read their brochure, and I thought boy, these people are really connecting nonprofits, connecting people who are working in these areas, and these connections are really important,” Pratt said.

The two support the Community Foundation in unrestricted giving, a form of giving where the organization puts the gift to use however the organization sees fit. While a restricted donation has a purpose in mind, such as a performance or program, an unrestricted gift can be for operational costs like every business has. Pratt said restricted gifts are more popular because people like to see their donations have a visible or tangible impact. “It’s harder for people to see what operating money does,” she said. “Unless you experienced working for or running a nonprofit, at which point you know perfectly well what it does, and both of us do. Bruce said unrestricted giving is even more important now during the COVID-19 pandemic, because the needs of nonprofits and those they serve have changed so greatly. As an example, he and Pratt repurposed their donations to the Community Arts Partnership into artist relief donations to help artists who were unable to perform. He said it’s hard to see where specific needs are in the community, which is where the Community Foundation’s knowledge of the county comes in.
“2020 really is the year to say, ‘no, you guys really are gonna have a much better idea of where this is actually needed’,” he said. “There are all sorts of good causes out there that have pictures of kids with big eyes and begging bowls that people are inclined to give money to, but that may not be where the actual need is.”

Learning about community needs

Making Dreams Come True

Learning about community needs

Community Foundation helps individuals, families, businesses, and organizations give back to their communities in active and informed ways  

Since 2003, Sandy and Jay True have had a donor advised fund at Community Foundation, which allows them to respond directly to funding requests submitted by local nonprofits.  One of these requests, received from Loaves & Fishes, was seeking money to buy ceiling fans for the comfort and health of their guests. Loaves & Fishes did not ask for air-conditioning because they thought it was cost-prohibitive.   

Sandy and her husband Jay, owner of True Insurance, however, decided to contact Loaves & Fishes to explore the possibility of going a step further to assure a more comfortable environment for patrons and volunteers “There are a lot of people in Ithaca who are very philanthropic, if they hear the story and hear the need. We thought, ‘What if we look at air-conditioning and fans?’” Sandy said. “And that started the ball rolling.”  Rev. Christina Culver, Executive Director of Loaves & Fishes expresses gratitude to the Trues and additional donors for funding the $30,000 project andmaking our 36-year dream to cool the dining hall and kitchen come true.”     

quote Antoine de Saint-Exupery

They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.