The city’s true leaders never stop giving
It’s holiday time and we are feeling really good about what’s happening in and around Des Moines. It’s the season for giving and the gifts just keep on coming.
Young professionals often ask, “What does it take to be a leader?” The blunt answer is that you have to do “something” before you are “somebody”. The true leaders in our community all have one thing in common. They have all stepped up by giving of their time and resources and by supporting and leading charity-based organizations.
The United Way campaign is about to wrap up and early indications are that it will break $18 million and set a new record. We are leading the nation in gifts per capita. We are leading in individual gifts over $10,000. We now have six individuals who give over $100,000 personally. We lead the way in the Women’s Initiative with over $1,500,000. Look for the new Emerging Leaders group made up of our next generation with over 60 young professionals who contribute over $1,000 and an additional 250 new members on their way up.
Variety Club has jump-started the next generation, growing from 20-plus members to over 300 in the last three years. Young Variety is very active philanthropically and socially. Look for established family names like Reynolds and Porter and new players like the Halls, Pauls and Kirkes.
These two groups are interconnected with activity-based organizations called YPC that help attract and retain young professionals throughout the metro. No geographic boundaries, no limit on “who” . . . just “do” kind of people, including mountain bikers and white water rafters. Some old and some new names like Hauser, Nieting, Clayton and Quixote.
The Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Leadership Institute has been in existence for well over 20 years and like the Business Record’s 40 Under 40, it represents the next untapped potential for community-based leadership. The base is very broad and inclusive yet woefully underutilized by our community. This is a hand-picked group who has great potential. Look for new leadership out of Haviland and Gamble to rally this talent pool.
The Morris Scholarship Fund, which provides college scholarships for minority students, recently held diversity dinners around the city and will be launching an endowment campaign after the first of the year. Hudson, Housby and Bianco are building a grass-roots team of up-and-comers to tell the story of breakfast clubs, service clubs and other philanthropic groups.
As is the case every November, Philanthropy Day was held to rightfully pay homage to some of our perennial leaders. This year’s recipients were Jim and Patti Cownie, Katie Meredith, Barry Griswell and AE Dairy as the Corporate Citizen. Six hundred of Des Moines’ finest came to recognize these incredible givers and show respect for all they do.
At the annual Iowa Business Hall of Fame ceremony Dec. 9, this old riddle came to mind: how do you know when you have worked enough, given enough and done enough for your community? Answer: If you’re still alive, you’re not yet done. The inductees, Honorable Robert D. Ray, Jim Erickson, Steve Chapman and Teresa Wahlert are a testament to those who have given and continue to give in a remarkable way — they are truly leaders.
It has been said that feeling gratitude but not sharing it is like wrapping a gift but not giving it. At the risk of leaving off one of the hundreds of great community and corporate citizens who have contributed unselfishly of their time and money to the hundreds of truly worthwhile charitable community causes, we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making this a world-class community to live in. Happy holidays and thanks for all you do.
Doug Reichardt is chairman and CEO of Holmes Murphy & Associates Inc.