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Don’t take it for granted

Jimmy Fallon has a popular bit on the “Tonight Show” during which he pens humorous thank-you notes, while a member of the band plays serene, thoughtful music as accompaniment.
What our community needs is $32 million worth of thank-you notes and music to send to the Blanche & Julian Robertson Family Foundation. Over 16 years — without much fanfare or credit, when you think about it — the foundation’s board has awarded $32 million in grants going only to nonprofit agencies and organizations in Salisbury and Rowan County.
A couple of days ago, the foundation announced the awarding of 65 grants of more than $1.26 million for 2014.
The value of these grants to our quality of life is hard to quantify adequately beyond the dollar amount, but like Jimmy Stewart’s Bedford Falls in “It’s A Wonderful Life,” this place we call home would be a much different place — and not in a better way — without the Robertson Foundation.
Grants the foundation provides often are the difference in keeping the lights on and the doors open for crucial nonprofits serving children and families as a whole. They also mean the difference in making Salisbury and Rowan County a better place culturally, aesthetically and academically.
Make just a quick read down the list of grants announced this year, and so many familiar names crop up: Rufty-Holmes Senior Center, Rowan Museum, Waterworks, Families First, The ARC, Bread Riot, Community Care Clinic, Scouting, Communities in Schools, Habitat for Humanity, the land trust, Meals on Wheels, Nazareth Children’s Home, Piedmont Players, Prevent Child Abuse Rowan, Salisbury-Rowan Symphony, Special Olympics and the YMCA.
Few individuals or organizations can give, as the Robertson Foundation has, $1 million over four years toward Catawba College’s new nursing program. It’s the Robertson Foundation that has pledged $750,000 toward construction, moving expenses and furniture for Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ central office.
In this most recent grant cycle alone, the foundation gave gifts to Rowan-Salisbury Schools six additional times, for extras the system would not provide otherwise, such as field trips for elementary students and an elementary honors chorus.
The argument can be made that the foundation, created through the generosity of Salisbury native and philanthropist Julian H. Robertson Jr., stepped into a void left by many of Food Lion’s original investors, who for so many years were the community’s great benefactors.
The Robertson Family Foundation began awarding grants in 1998 and has never stopped. Its work and giving have become so integrated with Salisbury and Rowan County, the Robertson grants have almost been taken for granted.
Thank you, Robertson Foundation. We don’t say it enough.

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