Building a Legacy, One Day at a Time

Feb 21, 2024

Dear Friend,

I’ve been thinking a lot about legacies this month as we honor inspiring figures who have led movements, created life-changing innovations, made incredible sacrifices, and helped others.

The stories we tell about these trailblazers during Black History Month often center on heroic acts, sparks of genius or monumental achievements.

But historical giants like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Bayard Rustin, and Thurgood Marshall are remembered and revered not because of one single moment or decision.

Their legacies are instead the result of thousands of courageous choices and acts made throughout their lives. Their legacies were built by their steadfast commitment to helping others, righting wrongs, and ensuring the world they left behind was better than the one they entered.

On February 29, we will welcome Dr. Uché Blackstock to Fairfield County (we hope you will join us).  She will reflect on her current New York Times bestseller, Legacy: A Black Physician Reckons with Racism in Medicine.

In this memoir Dr. Blackstock tells not only her own story as she has taken daily, courageous steps to challenge the medical status quo and achieve more equitable outcomes, but she also reflects on her mother, “the original Dr. Blackstock,” who left her own indelible legacy through lifelong caretaking of her community and by providing guidance and inspiration to her daughters.

When we hear her powerful story, and the stories of local heroes like doula advocate Cynthia Hayes, it’s common to pause and reflect on our own legacies — to ask ourselves how we would like to be remembered by our loved ones and our community; to consider what consistent acts, large or small, we are taking to serve others and advance the common good.

While the answer to this question is different for everyone, the choices we make today influence how we will be remembered.

We often think about philanthropic legacy as what one leaves behind for charitable purposes in a will. And as the leader of a community foundation, I am incredibly grateful to the generations of donors who have chosen to make substantial gifts at the end of their lives to support our work and the work of Fairfield County nonprofits.

But it’s also important to recognize that you don’t need to wait until your final days to begin building your philanthropic legacy.

Much like the Black History Month figures we honor throughout February, each of us has the opportunity to make our mark throughout our life.

This can be done in several ways — including through the Community Foundation. We’ve recently made it possible to create a fund that you can use to support your favorite causes for as little as $5,000.

In making the decision to lower our charitable investment threshold, we considered another legacy — that of the Community Foundation.

The Community Foundation’s mission is to ensure that every resident of Fairfield County has an equitable opportunity to thrive. This requires us to help expand paths to giving. We recognized the importance of adapting in welcoming and inclusive ways that increase the access and ease for more of our fellow citizens to partner with us philanthropically.

Through these adaptations, it’s never been easier to start building your philanthropic legacy here in Fairfield County. By doing so, you will join the ranks of generations of heroes who created an impact by living their values throughout their lives.

In Community,

Mendi Blue Paca

To learn more about building a legacy by establishing a philanthropic fund at the Community Foundation, please contact Joseph Collin.