Ice Cream!

Throughout 2017, we are celebrating our 45th anniversary here at the Community Foundation. If you are a frequent visitor to this blog, you’ve probably read some of the contributions from local non-profit leaders describing the relationship between their organization and the foundation, or if you follow us on social media you may be aware of our recent 45 Grants in 45 Hours experience.

As we planned the year, which will include a documentary premiere at the Clemens Center in September and a gala dinner on November 14 at the Corning Museum of Glass, we felt confident that our supporters, volunteers, board members, and other collaborators would have several opportunities to participate in the year-long celebration.

But what about the people who will be running the Community Foundation when it celebrates its 90th, 95th, and eventual 100th anniversary?

Realizing that everything we do is intended to make lives better for generations to come, we thought about the best way to celebrate the power of philanthropy with today’s children. It only took a few seconds to decide the answer was FREE ICE CREAM!

That’s why we visited Katy Leary Park last week with an ice cream truck for a full hour of sweet treat philanthropy. As kids lined up, they were stunned to learn that for an entire hour everything they wanted from the truck was free. No strings attached. No limits. Just ice cream and sunshine with the Community Foundation philanthro-crew.

This was a demonstration of cultural philanthropy in action. It isn’t enough just to be alive; as philanthropists we are always looking for ways to create moments of unbridled joy. Swing sets in parks, hiking trails along rivers, and murals on buildings are important signs of a community that is thriving, not simply surviving.

So where does an hour of free ice cream fit into the big picture? After all, it was only one hour. But for one of the kids in the park, this could be the most exciting thing that happens all summer. This could be the story they tell on the first day of school to their new teacher. If they are bullied a year from now and feel like no one cares about them, they might remember the time they had ice cream and someone took their picture as a “sweet treat selfie.” If nothing else, for an entire hour we reminded all of these kids that they matter.

45 years from now, one of those tiny ice cream lovers may be sitting in the office I occupy today telling someone the story of the first time they met the Community Foundation. It was a hot day and an ice cream truck rolled into Katy Leary Park back in 2017.