By Marie Bradby

“The betterment of our community is not just for our lifetime, we have to make sure there is continuity for the community for the rest of time,” says Susie Stewart about why she serves and gives to nonprofits in her community.

“Setting up an endowed (permanent) fund through the Community Foundation ensures that continuity,” says Susie, 60, a pilates teacher. In 2013, Susie and her husband set up the Michael and Susie Stewart Enrichment Fund through the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana (CFSI). She is past chairperson of the CFSI and continues to support the foundation’s unrestricted fund as well as other non-profits.

When she first joined the Community Foundation board in 2011, she wasn’t aware of how much the organization benefited the community. “I worked on showing the community all of the great things that were being made available because of other people in the community contributing to the fund,” she says.

“My passion is the Community Foundation’s unrestricted fund that keeps growing,” Susie says. “That’s where all the important work is happening. That fund is going to be able to do more than my one fund is able to do.

“It’s not about how much you can give, it’s about understanding the importance of giving back to the community and giving what you can. It doesn’t matter if that is your talent, time, or your treasures — we need all three of those to truly make things happen, to better the community.

“You can’t have people just donating money because there’d be no one to do the work. You can’t have only volunteers, because you have to have money. And if you don’t have people who are vested in a like-minded cause — the people with the talent and passion — the momentum to push things is not there.

It should not be left up to the ultra wealthy people to make a difference, Susie says.“I am not a millionaire. The money that I can donate can go to some good places, accomplishing more than I can do on my own. Then I can make a difference. It takes a lot of drops of water to fill a bucket. I can be one of them.”

Read about the great gifts Paul Schoenhoff and Dr. Karen Cost are contributing to their community as part of our Why I Give series. 

Photo: Melissa Donald
Illustration: Silvia Cabib