Jay Petersen has long been an advocate for Cedar Rapids.
A major player in establishing and championing a Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District (SSMID) in downtown Cedar Rapids, Petersen has supported many community projects in the last several decades.
His support of many fundraising campaigns—including the Science Center and Veterans Memorial Stadium for example—quickly became tied to the Community Foundation.
“I always said I’d give to the projects but I wanted to give through the Foundation,” Petersen said. “Then I also use the Community Foundation for my annual giving.”
Upon learning about the Community Foundation, Petersen knew it would be the best vehicle for his community contributions. Petersen—who served as a board member for the Community Foundation for nine years—said that contributing to the betterment of the community through the Community Foundation is a neat process.
“You are leaving a legacy forever,” he said, noting that he established a planned gift to the Community Foundation years ago. “The Community Foundation is a vehicle that will carry out my wishes and desires for many, many years.”
Current Community Foundation Board member and friend, Kevin Welu said working with Petersen over the years has been a rewarding experience. “Jay is a true advocate for giving back to the community and leaving a legacy. He has spoken so highly of the Community Foundation over the years and his passion is why I am involved as a Board member. His contributions are truly immeasurable and we will reap the benefits of his involvement and generosity for decades to come.”
A devoted father and grandfather—to four children and seven grandchildren—Petersen continues to support the Cedar Rapids community, especially underprivileged children. Petersen contributes to Four Oaks, Waypoint, Junior Achievement and Foundation 2, among other organizations. “There is a thrill in giving,” he said. “I have always loved seeing the looks on the faces of those organizations I support.”
Petersen’s willingness to give back to his community, he said, was greatly influenced by his relationship with Bill Quarton, whom he knew since he was a child. Petersen said his hope is that through his charitable giving over the years he too will help influence the generosity of others who come after him.
“That is one of the gifts you receive when you give through the Community Foundation,” he said. “You make an impression on someone. You plant a seed. And I’m a great believer in planting seeds.”