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Giving Back to the Future

I recently had the opportunity to make a presentation to the Leadership Tuolumne Senior program sponsored by the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging. I was asked to speak about the Sonora Area Foundation and its role in the future of Tuolumne County. As I prepared for my presentation, it gave me a chance to reflect not only on the Foundation, but what it really means to “give back.”

We hear the phrase “give back to the community” used all of the time, especially from celebrities and athletes who make crazy salaries and know that they can’t spend it all on themselves. Giving back can take many different forms – sometimes it’s about giving money toward your favorite charity; sometimes its about volunteer hours toward an activity; or it can be about setting up programs that benefit those in need.

At the Sonora Area Foundation, we have a lot of individuals, families, and businesses that have chosen to give back to the community through charitable giving. When you give back, you are clearing a path for a better future – for yourself; for your friends and neighbors; or for those in need.

When you really think about it, formation of the Sonora Area Foundation was very much about the future. Certainly that was the intent of our founders Irving Symons, who was a native son, businessman, and philanthropist, and his sister, Elaine Symons Baker. Mr. Symons knew that he wanted his family to give back to the community in a way which would have a lasting impact. He knew about Community Foundations but needed help on how to implement.

Enter Dr. Dean Cunningham, Columbia College President and the first President of the Sonora Area Foundation. Dr. Cunningham contributed his knowledge about community foundations gained in Humboldt County as the basis to get our Foundation moving in the right direction. Now, 22 years later, the Sonora Area Foundation has grown to $27 million in assets and has a bright future.

You can see the future in our mission statement: “The Sonora Area Foundation strengthens its community by assisting donors, making grants, and providing leadership.”
We work with donors to create legacies based upon charitable giving; implement grantmaking for the purpose of building community; and provide leadership to build a consensus of a vision for what the future may bring.

Take a look at our logo – a mighty oak tree with a rising ribbon of green moving from the foothills into the Sierras. Our slogan also speaks to the future: “For good. For ever.”

If I can leave you with anything after reading this blog, it is the idea that giving back through the Sonora Area Foundation is about giving back to the future. If you see yourself as part of that future, please contact me at the Foundation office.