After the sudden death of their 10-year-old daughter, Claire, in 2000, Brad and Julie Rubini wanted to honor their daughter and keep her alive by focusing on her love of books, storytelling and music.
"We attended a support group for grieving parents. As I looked around the room and saw parents who were still in so much pain and darkness over their child's death after seven years or more, I decided I wanted to turn my energy into something positive for Claire," explains Julie.
Knowing they wanted to create a legacy for their daughter, they turned to acquaintances for help. "I asked a friend who does development about establishing a fund in Claire's name. She steered us to the Toledo Community Foundation saying it would be the best place to establish a perpetual fund," she continues.
"I'm not good with numbers and I didn't want to handle the fund. We felt the Foundation would be the easiest way to satisfy our needs," she says.
In 2003, they established the Claire Lynsey Rubini Fund at the Toledo Community Foundation. In addition to their initial gift, another contribution has been given to grow the fund.
Establishing the Donor Advised Fund with the Foundation was "painless and all the details were so meticulously handled. We felt we could trust the people at the Foundation who cared enough to take care of our wishes," she adds.
Brad and Julie along with their children, Kyle and Ian, will make suggestions about grants from the Fund that encourage, promote and support reading and storytelling.
"Claire was an avid reader and loved storytelling. We were always in the Maumee library and I would take the children to story time. These were good times and we want to keep that spirit alive," says Julie.
"Our intent with the Fund is to excite children about reading by supporting classroom visits by children's book authors and illustrators," she continues.
The family knows first hand these visits have a definite impact. For the past three years, they, along with a group of dedicated volunteers, have presented Claire's (A Celebration of Life, Authors, Illustrators and Reading Excellence) Day at the Maumee Branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.
An average of 4,000 children and adults attend the free May book festival each year to the delight of the family.
Claire's Day features local and nationally known children's authors, illustrators, and storytellers holding workshops and demonstrations. The day includes children's activities and music. This year 10 authors made classroom visits to 10 schools.
"You could just see the kids getting excited about reading and writing. The teachers were happy that the principles they teach were being reinforced by professionals who the kids admire," says Brad.
During the festival, C.A.R.E. Awards (Claire's Awards for Reading Excellence) are given to children pre-selected by their teachers and OhioReads volunteers to recognize reading achievements.
"It's truly a celebration of reading and Claire's life. I know she would be thrilled with the event. But I also know that Claire's Day may not last forever. When the time comes, if the community does not want to take over Claire's Day, any monies that may be remaining in the Claire's Day account will be placed in the Claire Lynsey Rubini Fund at the Foundation to continue to benefit the community," she says.
Julie admits that not a day goes by that she doesn't feel Claire's absence. "As a family, we lived well with Claire and we've decided that we will live well after she is gone. This is so important for Kyle and Ian."
"We never dreamed we would be in this position of doing something for the community. This life-altering event has allowed us to move forward for our family while bettering the community as a whole," says Brad.
"Philanthropy is so important and there is room for people of our age - the 35-50 year olds - to get involved. We've turned our tragic loss into something positive to honor Claire and keep her love for reading and life alive," he concludes.