In Their Words: Richard and Phyllis Westerman

Through their Advised Fund, donors Richard and Phyllis Westerman have supported the Women's Education Coalition, which provides renewable grants to women who are currently underemployed and in need of education to become financially self-sufficient. Learn more about the Women's Education Coalition here.

Richard and Phyllis Westerman have many philanthropic interests and  make careful, informed decisions about the organizations and projects they choose to support. Through the Advised Fund they created at the Community Foundation, they are able to focus and refocus their giving as they wish, leaving the administrative details to our team. Phyllis and Richard recently discussed their goals and what our help means to them.

Richard  We established the Westerman Family Fund at the Community Foundation in 1998. It’s an Advised Fund, which means we have ongoing input into how and when and where the funds are distributed.

Phyllis  We live quite frugally, we have enough money and we like to give to places in need rather than accumulating things for ourselves. There are some organizations we prefer to give to, so it’s wonderful to have this fund at the Community Foundation where we can have input about where we would like the money to go. I’m interested in children and women — especially women who might need a step up — and things like parenting classes and nutrition. So in the past we’ve given to places like the YWCA, Boy Scouts, Gryphon Place and the Women’s Education Coalition.

Richard  To extend our interests financially and geographically, we’ve told the Community Foundation they are to give specified amounts to two institutions as long as the funds last. One is my medical school, Wayne State, and the other is the Cranbrook School for Boys.

We decided to use the Community Foundation as our general distribution center for our donations everywhere, even if the organizations are out of town. They have a broader perspective and can effectively filter out who has need and who doesn’t. They understand what we want to support, and they occasionally come up with ideas and ask us if we want to contribute to a particular effort. Oh, and the Community Foundation keeps much better records for us than we ever could!

Phyllis  Education is very important to both of us. We are proud to be in a community that has the Kalamazoo Promise, but we understand that not everyone wants to go to college.I would like to see even more emphasis on training in the skilled trades for young men and women.

Richard  And I’ve identified a new need. It is really an old need that’s no longer being serviced. When I volunteered at the Free Clinic of Kalamazoo, it was easy to see the difference it made in patients’ lives. I was sorry a decision was made to close that clinic. There is still a gap in acute care services for the uninsured that seems to be rising with continuing underemployment.  

I’d say working with the Kalamazoo Community Foundation is a no-brainer. If you have money you’d like to give and you don’t want to work at doing it, let the Community Foundation handle it for you. They represent high quality and they make it easy for you to contribute to the causes you care about.

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