Taylor Reveley’s Remarks – VISION 2020 Celebration

Thanks very much, Ron, for your stalwart efforts to make the Vision 2020 Initiative a triumph.

       About a month ago, an article on the front page of the New York Times caught my eye.  It was titled “China Blocks Ally in Virus Fight:  Its Own People.”  The article said in part:

       “Beijing has shown the world that it can shut down entire cities, build a hospital in 10 days and keep 1.4 billion people at home for weeks. But it has also shown a glaring weakness that imperils lives and threatens efforts to contain the outbreak: it is unable to work with its own people.

       “The coronavirus has exposed the jarring absence in China of a vibrant civil society – the civic associations like business groups, nonprofit organizations, charities and churches that bring people together without involving the government.

       “Think of it as the nervous system that helps a society move smoothly and briskly – something Benjamin Franklin recognized over 200 years ago when he organized Philadelphia’s first volunteer fire department, first public library and first charity hospital. ‘It is prodigious the quantity of good that may be done by one man, if he will make business of it,’ he wrote in 1783.”

       Had the great Franklin been speaking today, he would have said, of course, “It is prodigious the quantity of good that may be done by one person, if he or she will make a business of it.” 

       Franklin was right.  Each of us can do real good if we put our time, our talent, and our resources to it.  A vast number of Americans have done just that over the centuries and we still do today, producing a vibrant civil society for our country.  It is one of the USA’s crowning glories.

       Benjamin Franklin would have warmly applauded the Williamsburg Community Foundation and the robust success it has had in Vision 2020.  One simple measure of that success is the number of people who are now involved in the work of the Foundation.  Over twice as many as there were five years ago.  There are now more than 1000 households that have contributed to the Foundation since 2015. 

       To this end, a marvelous cadre of present and former board members, lawyers, financial advisors, donors and other volunteers have carried the torch for the Foundation, spreading the word about the good it is doing for Greater Williamsburg and urging support for its work.

       As a result, the Foundation’s assets have grown robustly.  They totaled six million dollars when Vision 2020 began, and they total over 20 million dollars as the campaign ends.

       The Foundation solicits grant applications for projects speaking to our community’s most pressing needs and promising opportunities.  When on acting on these applications, the Foundation always asks will this grant make a difference for the better in our community. 

       Foundation grants have helped families cope with challenges in their lives through organizations such as the Arc of Greater Williamsburg, One Child Center for Autism, Child Development Resources and Bacon Street.  Foundation grants have helped seniors through Williamsburg Faith in Action, Colonial Behavioral Health and Peninsula Agency on Aging.  Foundation grant have enlivened the arts through the Williamsburg Symphony, Williamsburg Music Club, and the William and Mary Film Festival.  Scholarships have helped local students take their first steps toward careers in education, engineering, nursing, finance and law.  

       These of a just a few examples of how the Foundation and the non-profit organizations it nurtures are helping sustain a vibrant civil society in Williamsburg.  But the picture they paint is clear.

       Warm thanks to each of you for what you are doing to sustain and enhance the Foundation.  Your commitment is vital.   As community foundations go, Williamsburg’s is still young.  Its capacity for growth is great, and so its potential to have transforming force in our historic part of the world.

       Please share your Foundation stories and enthusiasm with your neighbors and friends.  Urge them to join the effort.