Philanthropy means, "Love of our fellow man." In philanthropic acts, both parties derive benefits -- from giving as well as receiving the gift, as well as from making the gift.
The mission of Legacy Foundation is to be a partner, a resource, a collaborator for philanthropic partnerships, partnerships seeking opportunities to address the needs of society. These partnerships and relationships are rooted and founded, therefore, in love.
I hope this column encourages you and motivates you to consider becoming engaged in a philanthropic endeavor, to become engaged as a donor, volunteer, board member, community activist, patron of the arts and good neighbor. Love is ever present in the region, and that magnificent energy known as love can be used as an asset in Northwest Indiana.
One thing I know about Northwest Indiana residents is that they love to talk about their love of the Dunes, the Grand Kankakee Marsh, Cedar Lake (one of the largest inland lakes in Indiana), Merrillville's diversity, Pierogi Fest, county fairs, the thousands of meals delivered daily by the Meals on Wheels program, the stellar art scene around the region and the herculean efforts of staff, board members and volunteers at places such as Sojourner Truth House, Tradewinds, Challenger Learning Center, Opportunity Enterprises, the YWCA and YMCA.
Don't forget our love of the steel mills, as well as our superb colleges and universities, and the established yet ever-improving hospitals in the region.
I hear of the love we have for all of our city schools, the traditions, the faculty and staff. Because of my role at Legacy, I have the honor of viewing many of these systems in operation, and we should love them. I recently witnessed the Lilly Scholarship interview process and witnessed the talents and love that our teens have for the region. We should love our schools and those committed to improving them daily.
Schooling is not the endeavor it used to be; it encompasses so much more now. The 21st century schools truly embrace the concept of "in loco parentis," or being "in place of the parent."
We should love the fact that we have one of the best public television and radio operations in America -- not just Indiana, but America.
We love our old buildings and some of our new ones -- the Lake County Courthouse, the Brickie Bowl, the new IBEW Hall on Mississippi Avenue (fantastic!). We love the local and county park systems. We love our proximity to Chicago, South Bend, West Lafayette, the Great Lakes. There is a lot to love. Great roads and rail, low taxes ... I could keep going, but what else does love mean?
Parents are often put in the challenging position of raising their children through the actions of unconditional love with discipline. I believe we need to begin practicing this principal in our daily lives in Northwest Indiana. If we really love all of the things that I mentioned in Northwest Indiana then we need to start applying the disciplines of a loving parent toward this region. Act the way you want the region to move forward.
I implore us to model loving behavior in all of our lives -- check on the elderly in our neighborhoods, be disciplined and clean up our immediate environment. If you are in a position of authority, love your constituents. If you are in a position of influence, truly be a humble leader, driven by the good for the whole. Love what America offers you. Become the next Horatio Alger story. They happen every day; why not you? These actions come from a disciplined form of love, not just our usual emotional attachment to love.
I am growing to love this region and all it has to offer. Love is everything this region needs to continue to grow to become what the people of Northwest Indiana believe it was, what it is and what it should be and can be. This will happen only if we do this together.
I promise we at Legacy Foundation will continue to work hard to ensure that generations to come will still have a region to love as well.
It all starts with loving ourselves and each other. I hope all of us will strive to become more philanthropic on a daily basis.
Harry VandeVelde is president of the Legacy Foundation. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.