Leslie Goss column sig

As combines roll in our farm fields, we are reminded anew that we are part of the demographic known as Rural America.

Unlike in large cities, where an individual can walk down the street and never recognize anyone encountered along the way, our trips to the bank or post office or grocery store often become quite social!

In rural America, in many ways, life is more personal.

In rural America, philanthropy is more personal, too.

Several years ago, I attended a truly wonderful seminar focused on philanthropy in rural America. Charles Fluharty, founder, president and CEO of the Rural Policy Research Institute – the only national policy institute in the US solely dedicated to assessing the rural impacts of public policies – challenged us to “advance the power of the particular” — to realize the power and potential offered by philanthropy at a truly local level.

“People move where they want to live and create a job there, but most of that is urban. Rural communities, often overlooked, are critically important to this country. They offer vast resources — knowledge, financial assets, and personal commitment to community. Local philanthropy fills the void of distrust of larger organizations — government, large impersonal national organizations, whatever.

“What’s at stake? Everything!

“The word community comes from the Latin ‘communitas,’ which means ‘gifts together’ — a perfect description of our potential.”

He went on to describe and applaud the powerful impact community foundations are making across the country, harnessing the power of local assets and using them to positively impact local quality of life, particularly in rural America.

Here in Indiana, in the heart of rural America, 94 local community foundations offer individuals, families and organizations a powerful vehicle for making a personal, positive impact on the quality of life in our communities.

Unlike as in other states, every citizen in Indiana has access to a local community foundation. These foundations are governed at a local level by local people who want to see their community grow and prosper: your friends and neighbors … those same people you run into at the post office and grocery.

We all have different interests and abilities. However, when each of us chooses to commit some of our personal time, talent and treasure to become part of a greater whole, good things happen. The best of our qualities arise and we have the potential to strengthen our own community as well as the greater community around us.

Your Community Foundation of White County is honored to be a part of what makes rural America such a special place, and we invite you to partner with us as we seek to build an even stronger White County.

For more information, check out www.cfwhitecounty.org or contact me at 574-583-6911.

Leslie Goss is executive director of the Community Foundation of White County, Ind.

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