Philanthropy “Forward Together”

SEABROOK SAYS: Many thanks to Ernest Sumner for key thoughts on fundamentals of giving.  Collaboration in giving increases the effectiveness.  The number of generous givers in Gaston County is huge.  You’ll probably note a place where you already connect or should. NOW THAT YOU KNOW, WHAT WILL YOU DO?

An oversimplified definition of philanthropy is giving for the common good. Using this interpretation, Gaston County is home to many philanthropists.  The impact of their generosity spans the boundaries of our community and touches the lives of all citizens.  Examples of this impact are abundant and range from the quality of our drinking water to how we educate our youth and care for each other.

Gaston County has a history of planning for the future. Because of the wisdom of the community leaders in first creating The Community Foundation of Gaston County, everyone can participate in philanthropy and know that their gifts are amplified and directed toward areas to achieve the greatest impact.

Collaboration is a critical component of philanthropy. It is through collaboration good things happen.  As a community we can achieve so much more by working together.   Consider making a mental list of significant organizations and institutions in our community.  To start the list include:  Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, the Schiele Museum, the Whitewater Center, Habitat, AS One Ministries, Gaston Together, YMCA, United Way and many more.  The list will become quite lengthy but the common thread will be collaboration by generous donors.

Henry Massey, a twice elected Chairman of the Community Foundation of Gaston County Board, put it in these words: “Volunteerism and philanthropy go together. There are many opportunities for people to get started on any level at which they feel comfortable.”  Mr. Massey cites the building of Highland School of Technology as an example of the community pulling together to achieve a goal.

Today, thirty teenagers from ten different high schools in the county gather for scheduled meetings with the purpose of learning about writing and awarding grants through the Teens Changing Gaston County program. These teens volunteer their time for a meaningful purpose that helps others in the community.  The Next Generation Fund, a giving circle of young adults, gives back by volunteering and donating to worthy causes.  From all indications, Mr. Massey is correct in noting volunteerism and philanthropy go together and have many points of entry.

The Alliance for Growth is another example of concerned and active citizens working together to make Gaston County stronger. Recently CaroMont Health has stepped forward to collaborate with the City of Gastonia and the Community Foundation to support the ArtSpace project for downtown revitalization.  The future of Gaston County is bright with possibility.  Given we have a history of collaboration and a philanthropic spirit, so much can be accomplished.  The notion of volunteering and collaborating is alive and well.

If we all join together and focus on the community goals, the results will be exciting.  Gaston County is a thriving community.  The philanthropic spirit has been a driving force and will continue to make a difference if we all work together for the common good. “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

Ernest W. Sumner
Executive Director
Community Foundation of Gaston County, Inc.



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