Community West Foundation: Slaying the Giants of Our Time

William Baker, Chair of the Board, Community West Foundation, Keynote Speaker Rev. Adam Taylor, leader of the Faith-Based Initiative of the World Bank Group and David T. Dombrowiak, Foundation President and CEO.

William Baker, Chair of the Board, Community West Foundation, Keynote Speaker Rev. Adam Taylor, leader of the Faith-Based Initiative of the World Bank Group and David T. Dombrowiak, Foundation President and CEO.

If David was called to slay Goliath in modern America, the giant would be called by different names.

Those names are Hunger, Homelessness and Hopelessness.

There are agencies in our community who act as modern-day Davids. They include organizations like Metanoia Project, Malachi House, May Dugan Center, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry and many more.

Community West Foundation is the west side’s leading philanthropic agency. In the past year, Community West Foundation awarded $5.6 Million in grant funding to worthy organizations. $2.2 Million went to support nonprofit agencies. The Foundation also distributed $2.1 Million to Fairview and Lutheran Hospitals for the health and well being of residents. Rounding out the grants were the wonderful distributions from our Donor Advised Funds in the amount of $1.3 Million.

Community West Foundation welcomed over  225 guests from our partner organizations to its 2014 annual meeting held Wed., Sept. 10 at the Marriott Airport.

Building a Better Community

Rev. David Buegler, Community West Foundation Board Member and Brian Upton, Executive Director, Building Hope in the City.

Rev. David Buegler, Community West Foundation Board Member and Brian Upton, Executive Director, Building Hope in the City.

“Looking back at the Foundation’s performance over the past year, we can say with confidence – that together with all of you – we are indeed building a healthier and stronger community,” said William Baker, Community West Foundation Chair of the Board.

David T. Dombrowiak, President and CEO of Community West Foundation introduced keynote speaker, the Rev. Adam Taylor, leader of the Faith-Based Initiative of the World Bank Group. Rev. Taylor is author of the book, ‘Mobilizing Hope: Faith-Inspired Activism for a Post Civil Rights Generation.’

Rev. Taylor’s metaphorical approach to social ills parallels the works of Dr. Martin Luther King and the Biblical story of David and Goliath.

“We remember who Dr. King stood for, mostly through moments like his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. But he was cut down by a bullet while advocating for a fair living wage for sanitation workers in Memphis,” said Rev. Taylor. The real work of social change takes place in the trenches, by groups like Cleveland Foodbank, The Salvation Army, Providence House and Lakewood Community Services Center.

“The power of mobilizing hope,” he said to these agencies, “is crucial.”

“David came to the battlefield with the unique gifts and the stones God gave him. God gave us those same stones to meet needs,” said Rev. Taylor.

The Five Smooth Stones of David

Community West Foundation Board Members Dr. James Magisano, Henry Jacques and Harry A Zilli, Jr.

Community West Foundation Board Members Dr. James Magisano, Henry Jacques and Harry A Zilli, Jr.

1 – Pragmatic Solidarity: Coming together to find a common cause (hunger, homelessness, health care). Examples are Village Project (wholesome meals for families fighting cancer), Youth Challenge (organizing to benefit developmentally disabled) and many others in the Community West Foundation umbrella of care.

2 – Ethic of the Golden Rule: “We forget the power of the golden rule, to break out of our comfort zone and help those who are on their Jericho Road,” said Rev. Taylor. We can use the Golden Rule to strengthen our social solidarity in addressing human need.

3 – A Jubilee Ethic: The Bible calls for times of jubilee, a time to forgive wrongs, to release debts, to let the ‘ground lie fallow.’ “We are over-dependent on markets to dictate economies,” said Rev. Taylor. “We need a time to counterbalance the profit-taking (Leviticus 25). It is a time that is not just about economic growth, but also to help improve lives of the weak and vulnerable.”

From Youth Challenge, Melissa Thurstone, Community Development Manager, and Ken Kasler, Chief of Operations.

From Youth Challenge, Melissa Thurstone, Community Development Manager, and Ken Kasler, Chief of Operations.

4 – True Awakening: The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., underscores how racism still exists. Rev. Taylor calls for a “true awakening to the manifestations of racism.”

5 – The Power of Hope: “Hope is the oxygen of social change,” said Rev. Taylor. “Hope enables people to see a possibility, an air of inevitability. It is the most powerful antidote to oppression.”

He thanked the agencies represented at the Community West Foundation meeting for fostering hope. The burdens of the world may be different from David’s time, but the needs are the same.

Taylor likened the power of hope to an Ethiopian proverb: “When spiderwebs unite, they can entangle a lion.”

“That web,” said Taylor, “Is in this room.”

“Illuminating Hope is the motto at Community West Foundation,” said David Dombrowiak. “These two words summarize the spirit and capture and define our work.  This theme is seen and felt amongst our Board Members and staff, and felt across our community. To have Hope is a powerful thing….because we know that when we have hope, we can accomplish amazing things.”

“Hope lies in the promise of the possible and in the hearts of those working to make the world a better place. As holders of hope, we devote part of our time, some of our money, and some of our efforts to help others – the hungry, the homeless, the ill, the burdened, the disabled and the dying. If we can all leverage our time and talents in addition to our giving, it has a magnifying effect, and the results can be miraculous,” concluded David Dombrowiak.

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