This I Believe

David - Burlington, Iowa
Entered on May 18, 2007
Age Group: 65+
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe that if you plant seeds of goodness and nourish them they will grow. But first, you must have that good idea or two. My ideas came from two mentors.

Back in the mid-50s John Hannah, then President of Michigan State University told me, “To be a success in life, you must leave the world a better place than what you found it.” Also, in the mid 60s, I watched and helped the mainstay of the Forest Park Foundation in Peoria, Illinois, Bill Rutherford, distribute the wealth of his father and father-in-law to make Peoria a better place.

First then,I chose the field of public parks and spent 35 years designing and building parks, managing and directing park operations and teaching park and recreation administration to students. Second, to pass the idea of philanthropy on to others; deciding not to let my Master’s thesis sit on the shelf, I turned it into a book called, “Private Funds for Parks and Recreation.” It passed nationwide stories of foundation philanthropy in the area of parks and recreation along to others, planting seeds as it was read.

I also practiced what I preacched. Being poor in cash but rich in ideas, in 1979 I was point man in establishing the now successful Rockford (IL) Park District Foundation. The mission it carries is to make Rockford a better place by helping the local park district: Rockford, a city of green, of gardens, and of people using parks. The District’s ccurrent project is a new conservatory along the river, to be finished in time for the District’s centennial celebration in 2009. My seed of the Foundation is growing, making Rockford a better place.

I still believe in planting philanthropic seeds. My wife says I am brazen and forward….I think I am honest and enlightening. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Some people need to be asked; need to be enlightened as to possibilities….those that will make their part of the world a little better by their sharing, their giving, their leavingt a legacy of parks to their community. This I believe.