“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.”
Albert Einstein wrote that in The World as I See It, his book that was filled with his thoughts on ethics, society, and the meaning of life.
At Lake Forest Place, a Chicago area Life Plan Community, it’s a sentiment that residents have taken very seriously. Their philanthropic efforts take place both within the community and the community at large, to put back into the world what they have received from it—and then some.
Philanthropic Efforts at Lake Forest Place
At Lake Forest Place, residents have the opportunity to get involved through the Geneva Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Presbyterian Homes, and specific outreach efforts organized by the Lake Forest Place community itself.
This is, of course, in addition to their individual work with the causes and organizations they support.
“Many of the residents have been involved in many charitable endeavors throughout their lives. For example, some women started working with Girl Scouts in their childhood and even to this day support that endeavor,” Lisa Schiro, Presbyterian Homes Senior Director of Development, said. “And while they may be philanthropic before coming to the community, there are many opportunities to continue that spirit of giving.”
The Geneva Foundation
Donor partnerships enable the Geneva Foundation to support the benevolence, growth, and enhancement of our campus locations, create new and innovative programs, and build lasting legacies. Scholarships and support to staff in emergency situations are also provided.
The Geneva Foundation was launched in an effort to enhance philanthropic efforts across all Presbyterian Homes communities. There are four Chicago area senior living communities in the Presbyterian Home family—three Life Plan Communities and one urban rental retirement community.
The Geneva Foundation serves a variety of needs across the communities.
“We have many opportunities throughout the year for people to support. We offer scholarships for employees, for example. Perhaps donors wish to help that dining services employee they see every weekend because they know she’s going to school to become a nurse,” Lisa explained. “They can contribute to the scholarship fund and proudly watch people grow and bloom with advanced education.”
Donors can also contribute to programming, such music programs for those receiving memory support, or enhancing the physical space.
Lake Forest Place residents (and residents at the other Presbyterian Homes communities) have the option of supporting their neighbors who may be facing unexpected changes in their finances, as well.
“Donors can make donations to help the Geneva Foundation support older adults who may become financially vulnerable so that they can remain in the community. If something unexpected happens to a resident's finances or if they happen to outlive their assets through no fault of their own—for example, say they planned their assets to 95 but lived to be 107—the Geneva Foundation helps them remain in the community,” Lisa said.
Lisa added that although there are several Geneva Foundation programs already in place, she’s always open to new ideas.
“Sometimes people walk in the door and say ‘I have this idea, what do you think of it?’” she said. “Sometimes it’s out of the box and spot on, and can come to life with someone who’s willing to fund it. We’re always open to opportunities of investing in the future of our communities.”
Residents play a vital role in driving change at Lake Forest Place. Lisa said she’s always impressed with the ideas people share with her.
Lake Forest Place Community Outreach
Outside of Geneva Foundation efforts, each community also implements programs that provide outlets for residents to continue their philanthropic efforts well into retirement.
At Lake Forest Place, community engagement manifests itself in everything from food drives for local shelters to packing backpacks with school supplies for children attending inner city schools.
“Many people remain active when they move into our communities. Many more say they’re even more active after they move in,” Lisa said.
In Lisa’s opinion, it stems not just from the residents’ interest in philanthropy but from their welcoming natures, as well.
“Just like a neighborhood would come together to support someone in need, Lake Forest Place residents do the same thing,” she said. “People are always willing to pull up a chair for a newcomer. It’s a community in every sense of the word.”
A New Generation of Philanthropists
Lisa has been with the Geneva Foundation for 10 years and in that time has seen a tremendous amount of change, in both the world of charitable giving and in the residents themselves.
“People are so active. Residents are well into their 90s and you would never guess because of how social and active they are,” she observed. “They’re attending lectures, creating art, and going to the opera. You get to work early and there are as many people running around at 8 o’clock in the morning as at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.”
This active participation carries over to their philanthropic efforts as well. People no longer write a check and walk away. Rather, they want to take an active role and see how it’s being put to use.
“Philanthropy has evolved and now people like to see it in action and know where things are going,” Lisa said. “We’re 100 percent accountable. When someone gives me a check, I don’t just say ‘thank you.’ I circle back and share the impact of their contribution.”
Take Part and Pride in the Result: Lake Forest Place Residents on Philanthropy
Many Lake Forest Place residents prefer to give to local causes so they can see the direct impact of their efforts. That’s also true for Calvine and Charlie B., who have lived at the Lake Forest community since it opened.
“We like to make donations to organizations that we have an active interest in and in this case, the Healing Garden at Lake Forest Place,” they said. “We can personally see where and how our gift is being utilized and take pride in the result.”
Residents Fay and Jerry L. say they enjoy donating to musical programs that benefit residents in memory support on the campus.
“We are amazed at the difference music makes in the lives of residents in the [Balmoral Memory Care Center],” they said. “Whenever our dedicated staff comes up with creative new music programs, we are happy to contribute to making them possible.”
For Sandra and Dick H., they see giving to the Geneva Foundation as a chance to directly benefit their friends and neighbors.
“Any gifts or donations to the Geneva Foundation that flow back to the community only help make Lake Forest Place a better place to live for all residents,” Dick said.
With many places to donate to, Dick added, choosing local charities makes the most sense in his opinion.
“I acknowledge that we have many places to donate our charitable funds, but when you keep it local, it results in helping your friends and neighbors,” he said.
If you would like to learn more about becoming a Geneva Foundation donor, discover ways to give here. You can also contact us if you have any questions about philanthropy at Lake Forest Place or are interested in becoming a resident.