Lessons learned from a Generous Man
November 26th, 2011
Fred Meijer passed away on November 25th a few days shy of his 92nd birthday. He was a staunch and generous supporter of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. My memories of Fred are so wonderful and here is merely a glimpse:
Twenty some years ago, David LaClaire our board chair at the time, invited Fred Meijer to lunch along with me to discuss a gift to the Community Foundation. I remember a warm and real person who asked me a lot of questions about who I was and my family. He and his wife, Lena, had initiated a scholarship fund for the children of Meijer associates back in 1975 and it was understandable that he wanted to know more about the person who was running the Community Foundation now.
The lunch conversation was lively and fun! However rather subtly the discussion changed from the agenda that David and I had fashioned to Fred's philanthropic agenda. His dreams were expansive punctuated by the desire to have a community botanical garden that mirrored those he visited in Europe. It was fascinating. Then there was the time he invited me out to the Meijer Headquarters to see the statues and outside art he had commissioned to realize his vision of a community garden. A huge garage alongside the corporation's parking lot housed these treasures. He was beyond proud with a decided twinkle in his eyes as he looked to the future.
That was something I will always remember about Fred Meijer! Not only innovative, caring, philanthropic but reaching out to the future! He did believe in the positive strength of endowment and he and Lena demonstrated that by establishing Donor Advised Funds for their grandchildren passing the baton of giving back. What a visionary!
There are many stories that people will have about Fred Meijer that will be shared over the next few days and I have many more as well! Thank you Fred Meijer for shining the light of philanthropy for all! You will be missed tremendously! Thank you for a life well-lived! My sympathies to Fred's wife Lena and the entire Meijer family.
GRCF - Old School or Hip Happenin'?
July 14th, 2010
This is Leadership! You will be reading and hearing a great deal more about the Foundation's leadership efforts in the coming months and I hope you enjoy reading the stories and examples. For months, we have been creating ways to tell our story with greater clarity and in a compelling fashion that makes you want to learn more! The power of philanthropy and the strong collaborative nature of our community are dynamic forces! In the Spring 2010 edition of our news magazine Current I wrote about "this thing called leadership" pointing out that there are many efforts where the GRCF staff are addressing key issues and collaborating with many great organizations in our community. In the Summer 2010 edition of Current I wrote about the endowment building capacity of the Foundation and noted that it is definitely a strong form of sustainability - meaning it is truly a relevant and meaningful way to leverage support for major (and minor) issues! Take a look at the grants profiles (scroll down the page a bit) we are posting on the GRCF website along with other publications to gain keen insight on key issues in our area and the great grants we are making coupled with the strength of our staff and volunteers addressing knotty community issues!