Love for the levee in the Quad Cities

Barbara Melbourne at the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend recently worked with Fran Riley of KWQC-TV, the NBC news affiliate in the Quad Cities (where I grew up), on this fantastic feature about the late-W.D. Petersen that speaks to the essence of philanthropy, and the impact endowments can have to transform a region.

Take a watch here:

How cool is it that, even to this day, we have this endowment [in the Quad Cities] that continues to give money to less fortunate kids.
— Fran Riley, Reporter, KWQC News

W.D. Petersen was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of eight. He joined his father and two brothers in the merchandising business, starting J. H. C. Petersen’s Sons Department Store—which was sold by the Petersen family and became part of Von Maur. Petersen died in 1928.

The two charitable endowments at the Community Foundation, one for the medical care of the needy and one for care for needy children, were created when Petersen’s great granddaughter, who lived in California, made the decision to transfer his private foundations to the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend.

“He was an amazing man and the Community Foundation is uniquely positioned to find the appropriate opportunities to carry out his intent with nonprofit organizations,” Barb told me a few months back. “He would be so proud to see the activity down on the riverfront. He was knee-deep in the mud and debris at the riverfront and observed that we would not have a successful community if we didn’t invest in it, and make it a place where people want to be.”

It’s a story that will be told again and again because Petersen’s funds are part of the Community Foundation. And it is part of the reason why all of us at Numad enjoy partnering with Community Foundations—because they get to be stewards of the hopes, wishes and dreams of people long after they have left this earth.

His story could have been lost, especially because it was in a private foundation. Here, we are able to connect him with each new generation. W.D. Petersen was a real person who cared about the community. He wanted a better tomorrow and we can share that with our community. That’s why we’re here.
— Barbara Melbourne, Vice President of Development, Community Foundation of the Great River Bend