When Rich and Marion Patterson moved to Cedar Rapids in 1978, they had no idea the community would be their home for the next 40 years. “I came here to serve as the Executive Director of the Indian Creek Nature Center,” he recalls. “I thought we would be here for a few years.”
Those few years turned into a few decades, and Rich and Marion quickly found themselves immersed in the Cedar Rapids community. They felt a deep commitment to their community and gave when and where they could. Eventually, they began discussions about their legacy, and the possibility of giving back beyond their lifetimes.
“My salary for many years came through the generosity of others – people who gave to the Indian Creek Nature Center,” recalls Rich. “Even when our income was very low and we were raising children and paying a mortgage, we always gave as much as we felt we could. Now that our kids are grown, we’ve been able to put together our endowment fund, which we are very pleased with.”
The Patterson Family Endowed Fund, which the Patterson’s started with $10,000, will also include half of the couple’s estate when they pass. “While we’re alive, we will contribute as much money as we can to this fund,” says Rich. “We have no idea how much that will be, but hopefully it will be a significant amount and it gives us some pleasure to know that long after we are gone, our fund will provide support to five nonprofits that we believe in.”
“We talked to our children about this plan,” says Marion, “and they are very supportive of this idea. They could also contribute to the fund over the years if they wanted.”
Rich knows the significance of the support an endowment can provide. “Throughout my career in the nonprofit sector, I’ve tried to pull people together to create endowments – they’re very important for the long-term sustainability of an organization, but they’re also a way to create a legacy. I’m a great believer in endowments, and though we are people of modest means, I am pleased to have been able to create one.”
“People have always been kind to us and our family” says Marion, “and this is our way of showing our commitment to the community. We don’t have a lot of money, but we still want to do something good.”
Rich says they’ve always tried to be as generous as possible. He says, “It would be very nice to be able to write a million dollar check. We can’t do that, so we’re doing what we can. And if a lot of people would do what they can, it would have a big impact on our community.”