In Their Words: The Garside Family

Chip and Miranda Garside and Family

The Garside family is entering a third generation of philanthropy with the Kalamazoo Community Foundation: John Sr., who is retired, and his wife, Sharon, an interior decorator; John Jr. (a.k.a Chip), president of Woodruff Coal Co., and his wife, Miranda, who works in communications at Southwest Michigan First; and Chip and Miranda’s daughter, Alex, a freshman at Southern Methodist University. Here is their story, in their own words.

John Sr.  Sharon and I established the James W. and Thelma Garside Scholarship Fund with the Community Foundation in 1988 in memory of my parents. They didn’t have the opportunity for advanced education, but believed in it strongly as a pathway to future success. Also, my father believed in leave more on the table than what you came in with, so giving to others was part of our family culture for as long as I can remember. The first scholarships were given in 1989. Since then, there have been 52 recipients, and $52,000 has been awarded from the growth generated from our original gift.

Sharon  Chip sits as the family representative on the advisory committee for the scholarship. We are grateful that the Community Foundation has a way for a family member to be involved in the recommendation process, giving us the chance for input as the years go by. We also chose to work through the Community Foundation because of its reputation for professionalism and how easy they made it for us, as a family, to establish the fund.

Chip  We invited Alex and later her brother, Jay, to an advisory committee meeting when they each reached 10th grade. We wanted them to meet the scholarship applicants and learn what we discuss in the meetings. We also wanted them to understand what’s important for their own education during high school, teach them about the importance of giving back, and show them by example the philanthropic ideals that are important to our family.

Alex  Going to these meetings and seeing what the applicants had done with the community as volunteers taught me about the importance of leadership and helped me realize what I had to do to get ready for college. I saw how philanthropy isn’t just about money, but it’s also about giving time to something that will help make others happy. I’ll definitely be passing this family heritage of giving on to my kids. It’s already very important to me.

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