What would your town do with a gift like this?
Heck, what would your community do with a $10 million gift?
Seriously. The question isn’t intended to evoke idle speculation. By thinking about how Fort Smith — as a community — could spend a huge windfall, perhaps we could begin to prioritize, as a community, what’s most important for building a place we can all think of as “home.”
What’s more important? Fresh coats of paint, asphalt, and other aesthetic improvements? Or investments in our people? All of our people? Young, old, rich, middle class, poor.
I’m inclined to think our people make our community a place we think of as “home.”
Think about it.
“My feeling is that we’re not honoring the donor if we spend time speculating about it,” says Rebecca Brumagin, executive director at the Achievement Center, which provides physical therapy and other services to children. The center, which serves 3,200 children a year, will get $2 million.
“The needs are really great. So we will be able to help more children because of this,” Brumagin says.
Kitty Cancilla cried when she learned the homeless shelter where she is executive director will get $2 million. Its previous largest donation was $25,000. Even now, Cancilla clutches a balled-up tissue and fights back tears as she talks about the gift.
Cancilla says she is unable even to speculate who the donor could be.
“We don’t really travel in a community that knows the wealth of people,” she says. And she prefers not to even try.
“It’s disrespectful to the friend. To me, that’s a spiritual thing.”
Each of the charities will get about $1 million to $2 million. The recipients include a food bank, a women’s center, a group for the blind and three universities.