Just as plants need osmosis to grow, Sam Carson feels that same process applies to passing on the importance of philanthropy to his children, his grandchildren and he hopes his great grandchildren.
Sam, a well-known and respected Toledo community and business leader, admits his parents helped him understand the impact of giving to others when he was growing up in his home state of New York. He's proud that his children have acquired the mission of sharing adopted by he and his late wife, Alice (Alec).
With a family understanding of the importance of sharing, Sam and his wife created the Carson Family Metroparks Fund at the Toledo Community Foundation in 1997. This endowed fund will permanently help support capital projects of the Metropolitan Park District of the Toledo Area.
"Alec and I have been outdoor lovers all our lives. We live near Wildwood Metropark and so enjoyed sharing the park together. It was only natural for us to make provisions for the park long after we are both gone," he explains.
In 1999 the park system purchased additional land near Wildwood. But it needed a bridge to connect the two properties across the Ottawa River.
The Carson Family decided to help fund the construction of a covered bridge to tie the two parcels together and give park users a unique look at a bridge from times gone by. Their gift to Wildwood Metropark was made through the Carson Family Metroparks Fund, creating a lasting legacy for park lovers to enjoy for years to come.
"I feel there are two kind of giving. One is to give now and the other is giving for the future. For our family, the Toledo Community Foundation helps us with both," he adds.
At age 91, Sam has witnessed and participated in many changes in the community and business arena. "It is difficult to keep track of all the cultural and community needs. Things change so quickly that we turn to the professionals at the Foundation to guide us in the best direction for our financial support.
"For perpetuity, professionals must make sound long-term investments of our gifts to be realized by future generations. The Toledo Community Foundation is equipped to provide that oversight and help us carry on our legacy."
For Sam the Toledo Community Foundation is one of his own legacies. As president of Toledo Trust (now KeyBank), he was a member of the initial board of trustees and served on the Foundation's board from 1973 through 1978.
"At that time, I didn't know much about community foundations but the more I learned the more I understood it was a very valuable institution for Toledo. Back in those early days the Foundation was so small that our gifts to the community were limited," he recalls.
Passing along his commitment to the Foundation, his daughter Betsy Brady joined the board in 1992 and served as president when the Foundation celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1998. "It was great to see Betsy in that position when the Foundation had so much to celebrate and give to the community," he smiles.
"Alec and I had five lovely children and we would say to each other all the time that we were the luckiest people in the world to have such a great family."
Alec, who died in 2003, shared 64 wonderful years of marriage with Sam. She is missed greatly by Sam as well as their children Russ of New York City, Sam, Jr. of Hartsville, Tenn., Kathy of Charleston, S.C., Mary Fedderke of Maumee and Betsy of Holland. Sam is equally proud of his nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren.Branching Out
"Every summer the entire family gathers for a week in New Hampshire. At our family meetings we make decisions on how we will give back to our communities. The grandchildren accept their roles as future philanthropists and participate too. They are all cut out of the same cloth and know their responsibilities."
In addition to the Carson Family Metroparks Fund, the Carson Family has a Donor Advised Fund at the Foundation. Understanding the importance of education, the family is proud to use some of the distributions from the Donor Advised Fund to provide college scholarships for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Toledo. "With the scholarships, we've been happy to put more than just our own children through college."
With the Foundation's support, the Carson Family's generosity and planning will make the Toledo community a better place to live and raise families for several generations.