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Real People Making a Difference

Charlotte Green

Charlotte Green
“Why I Give”
Charlotte Green

Giving has been a part of Charlotte Green’s core for as long as she can remember. Raised in Conway County in a family with fourteen siblings, Charlotte was taught to pay it forward by parents who were strong believers in their faith.

“Giving is a spiritual principle,” said Green. “Your return is not measurable because the impact is so great!”

In honor of her mother, Icy Lee Rainey, Charlotte, along with her siblings, created an endowment at Arkansas Community Foundation to help young women continue their education. But the qualifications set forth are a little different than most scholarships that help with higher education, focusing on female students with children who show a commitment and drive to improve both their lives as well as their children.

Living proof that education is the great equalizer, Charlotte has worked in education herself for more than 17 years both in the classroom and in administration for the Conway School District.

“My mother was my inspiration and my role model. She never went to college and always put her children first. She said she would attend college after her kids finished school, but died when the youngest was finishing her schooling. Our scholarship honors her legacy. When parents are intentional about teaching and giving to their children, it’s immeasurable,” said Charlotte. Naming the endowment in her mother’s honor is what Charlotte describes as “an intentional way to ensure that person is not forgotten and their purpose continues.”

“When I give, I feel honored that I am able to carry on someone’s legacy,” Charlotte said.

William B. “Bill” Fisher

William B. “Bill” Fisher
"Why I Give"
William B. “Bill” Fisher

Bill Fisher joined the Greene County Community Foundation Board in the mid-1980s and served for ten years before becoming its Chairman. He remains committed to the Community Foundation to this day and feels it is not so much about the amount of money one gives, but the time you give to helping others. His parents instilled philanthropy in him and his siblings, and the other mentors in his life, with God at the helm, provided him the direction.

“I believe education is the key to social and economic development,” Bill said, “and to the success of our nation. Education is an ongoing process – you have to continue to learn throughout life.”

Bill and his wife Anne give to the Greene County Scholarship Fund every year. However, Bill doesn’t believe that college is the key to success for everyone. “There is a real lack of skilled workers out there. Many have the mindset that they want their children to be a doctor or a professional, but there is nothing wrong with being a fireman or a policeman,” he added. A former banker himself, Bill wanted to provide scholarship support for students pursuing technical training as well as those seeking a college degree.

Bill created his first endowment at the Community Foundation in the 1990s to help students who couldn’t help themselves financially. Today, he continues to see benefits of the Community Foundation grants he and others have made. “I was at the doctor’s office and a nurse stopped me to tell me she appreciated the scholarship we’d given her daughter last year. Every year I get a note from a student, thanking us for our help.”

Dr. Tom Bruce

Dr. Tom Bruce
“Why I Give”
Dr. Tom Bruce

Tom Bruce is a physician and an educator, but to many people in Arkansas he is known as a philanthropist. “It was an evolution,” he said. “My giving pattern has evolved over time.”

His career also evolved over time, from Arkansas roots to studying at Duke, Cornell, London, Harvard and beyond. His medical specialty in heart disease led to a second career teaching and research, then serving as dean of the College of Medicine at UAMS for 11 years.

“People give in different ways. Doctors are trained to be generous in giving of themselves. There is a tradition of professional sharing of time and talent that is common,” said Bruce.

It wasn’t until he served 12 years as a program director for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, however, that his personal giving patterns changed. In this position, Dr. Bruce had the opportunity to evaluate and recommend proposals for funding in health, leadership and rural community development. “I learned that needs and problems tend to turn people off,” Dr. Bruce says. “But when you look at human potential, it gets people excited.”

Today he sees the world through two sets of lenses: knowing what the underlying problems are and understanding better ways to solve them. “I’ve gone from treating the individual to advocating for the public’s health – how we keep the broader community healthy.”

Dr. Bruce has been a key advisor to the Community Foundation, most recently by conducting research around Arkansas’ charitable needs and identifying the gaps our donors can help to fill. His personal generosity reaches deep in community development, youth programs, health, social services and higher education. A favorite cause, however, is the one he and his late wife Dolores shared: supporting gardens, development and music education Wildwood Park for the Arts in Little Rock.

“Altruism is a learning process,” said Dr. Bruce “Generosity becomes habitual.”

Barbie Graham

Barbie Graham
“Why I Give”
Barbie Graham

For Barbie Graham, building a culture of giving is about continuing the tradition set forth by her own parents, C. N. ‘Kent’ Jr. and Helen Beth Scott, and passing it along to her grandchildren.

Barbie created the Samantha and Alea Vaccarella Endowment when the girls were just two and four with the goal of teaching them the importance of giving, and about personal finances.

“We sit at the dining table and talk about how we can help other children who don’t have the same things,” said Barbie. As a former educator, she understands that children need concrete examples to relate to, so she will talk about some of the needs in the Mountain Home area, and let them decide where they want to give. “One year they decided to help refurbish a playground at church. They also gave to a program that filled children’s backpacks with non-perishable food items every Friday so that they would have food to eat over the weekend.”

By establishing a Donor Advised Endowment at Arkansas Community Foundation, Barbie and her grandchildren will be able to give to their community in ways they choose to, for the rest of their lives. She even has the girls hand deliver the gift to the non-profits they select.

“Most people think of Bill Gates or Rockefeller when they think of philanthropy, but we believe it’s more about prayers, presence, gifts and service,” said Barbie. “And plus, it’s really a lot of fun.”

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