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Waking up on May 6, 1959

May 6, 2009

On May 5, 1959, Mervyn and Dorah Sterne made the first gift as part of the official founding of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. So, when they woke up on the morning of May 6, 50 years ago, what did they think they had accomplished? Could they have imagined that, 50 years later, hundreds of different donors would have made gifts and created an endowment that has made grants of more than $200 million total since 1959.

Sure, some official financial and trust officers had drawn up an agreement, made plans and figured out the legal way to create a much-needed savings account for the community. But did anyone really imagine the extent of what could be accomplished by donors giving back to their community through the Community Foundation?

Did Frank and Margaret Spain imagine what would come out of their bequest in 1972, the largest single unrestricted gift ever made to the Community Foundation? With these flexible funds, part of the assets held in Community Funds, the Community Foundation has been able to make grants totaling almost $30 million over the past 35+ years. Over the same time, the original $3 million bequest has grown to $20 million, held in endowment for the next 50 years — and more!

We’re counting down to the official start of our anniversary year, when we celebrate together on May 11. In the meantime, think about what you can give and what you imagine — because the two things go together. What are your wildest hopes for your future — and your children’s future?

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