A Time for Reflection and Philanthropy

Posted: January 5th 2018

Reflection and Philanthropy
By David Bennett, Executive Director

The world has changed a lot since I started as the Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne in 1995. Trying to make a comprehensive list of the names and terms that we have today but did not exist back then is nearly impossible: iPhone, Kindle, Facebook, Twitter, AirBnB, Uber, driverless cars, Genome sequencing, artificial intelligence, digital facial recognition … the list goes on and on!

As I barrel toward my retirement, I find myself especially reflective about my life, my work, and the world at large. It seems to me, that globally, we are in the midst of two extraordinary forces that affect all of us every single day:
Globalization which connects business activity on every corner of the globe; and,
The flurry of technological advances that seemed unimaginable a generation ago.

With these changes, people are more “connected” than ever, yet we have the feeling that our world is accelerating away from us. Patents are obsolete before they are approved. Education that was relevant a decade ago is irrelevant today. Governments, companies and individuals are all struggling to keep up.

One of the things I love about philanthropy is its provision of timeless nuggets, the need for which will never change. Regardless of what happens with global markets or computer speeds, virtual reality or artificial intelligence, timeless nuggets are the crucial anchors that we all crave. What are those timeless nuggets? They are easy to spot, because you see them every day:

The desire of a student to gain knowledge
The affirming love of a mother for her child
The system created to support a family member with autism
The feeling you get hearing Pachelbel’s Canon for the first time

I salute the donors and staff members who will continue to toil each day to bring us these timeless nuggets. I will miss working closely with you in the future, but please know I will be vociferously cheering you on from the sidelines.

Many times during my career I have turned to the words of John F. Kennedy for inspiration, and I believe there is no better place to start than his inaugural speech. With his message he reminded Americans that each generation is summoned to make their community a better place, admonishing, “Do not shrink from this responsibility.”

Kennedy closed his speech with the following words, of which I am reminded as my time here comes to a close: “With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

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