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The Widow’s Mite

Dr. Tod Allen Farmer

President John F. Kennedy famously stated, "The raising of extraordinarily large sums of money, given voluntarily and freely by millions of our fellow Americans, is a unique American tradition... Philanthropy, charity, giving voluntarily and freely... call it what you like, but it is truly a jewel of an American tradition."  This great American tradition of philanthropy is alive and well in Texas, and it is transforming Weatherford College.

Under the leadership of Weatherford College Foundation President Bob Glenn, Executive Director Brent Baker, and the entire foundation board, giving is at an all-time high.  Among many other recent gifts, a valuable building has been donated, a $1,000,000.00 cash gift has been received, a multi-million dollar estate gift has been legally committed, and additional transformational gifts are in process.  Most college foundations develop a strategy of either increasing the amount of student scholarships awarded or increasing the net assets of the foundation for future use.  Amazingly, the WC Foundation has simultaneously done both!  A record number of student scholarship dollars have been awarded at the same time that the total net assets of the foundation have dramatically increased.  As if these accomplishments were not enough, Steinway piano and artificial turf donations significantly improved our students’ opportunities. 

These large gifts make headlines and truly do change both the lives of our students and the face of our community’s college, but what drives those large gifts?  What causes individuals with exceptional financial capacity to invest their philanthropic dollar in the lives of others by donating to the Weatherford College Foundation?  I am of the humble opinion that the contribution of the proverbial widow’s mite has a profound impact on the thinking of both the broader stakeholder community and upon those with exceptional financial capacity. 

The recent surge of giving at Weatherford College was initially accelerated by those with limited financial capacity.  It was literally a few of the widows of the WC Ex-students Association, as well as WC students, truck drivers, secretaries, and various faculty and staff members who initially accelerated giving.  Many of these early gifts were modest in amount, but commensurate with limited financial capacity.  Then many of our ordinary community members and business people increased the volume of gifts.  The fire began to spread.  Next, our community civic organizations, churches, and philanthropic organizations got in on the action.  Before we knew what was happening, the proverbial widow’s mite had transformed into a tsunami wave of giving.  Those with exceptional capacity noticed and did not turn a blind eye to what was occurring at our beloved Weatherford College.

All of this giving was intended to help both students and our noble institution, but the benefits of giving were more far-reaching.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."  This tsunami wave of giving has collectively made us an even better version of ourselves.  We have changed, and will increasingly continue to change for the better, the future of our wonderful home.

The major donors of Weatherford College are deeply appreciated.  Their collective generosity has undoubtedly been a game-changer for our community.  However, we must never underestimate the capacity of the ordinary person to make an extraordinary difference.  I want to thank our major donors, those who have given what they can afford, and those who have simply shared a few words of encouragement with our students.  You are all important.  The philanthropic flame that has grown into an inferno was initially ignited by the meaningful contribution of the widow’s mite.