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Making the Right Connections

Connecting people who care with causes that matter: How one gift can save many young lives.

By Kerry Healy; Photos by Peter Barta

Bernie Story

Bernie Story’s job is to connect people who care with causes that matter. As president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Story helps philanthropists in his community use their charitable dollars to make a meaningful impact on the causes they care about most.

A gift to help fund proton therapy at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is one example of how Story helped fulfill the legacy of the late George T. Walker.

Walker’s advisers approached the Community Foundation, and Story says, “We were given to understand that he was a humble man of deep faith, who wanted to use his estate to improve lives in our region and across the country by increasing access to services.”

Setting up an endowed designated fund with the assets from Walker’s estate was ideal. When Walker prepared his estate plans, he requested annual evaluations of the charities his bequests would help fund. His advisers recommended making one large gift to the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, creating The George T. Walker Charitable Fund. The foundation is uniquely positioned to facilitate such a gift.

“As a result,” Story says, “we have a large endowed fund of grantable dollars, and our staff works with the charities he designated to meet their needs and fulfill Mr. Walker’s wishes.”

About supporting proton therapy, Story says, “We really wanted to do something impactful for children with cancer, and we worked with our St. Jude representative to establish a multi-year grant plan. Because it is the very first proton therapy center solely dedicated to the treatment of children, it really resonated with the foundation from a human perspective.”

Story attended the grand opening of the St. Jude Red Frog Events Proton Therapy Center and the unveiling ceremony for the plaque naming a proton therapy induction room in honor of the Walker Fund’s support.

“It was absolutely wonderful,” Story says, “seeing St. Jude families treated with such dignity and respect, and knowing that I represent the Community Foundation that is helping, in a small way, to make that possible.

“This is really the story of Mr. Walker’s philanthropy, and his decision to improve people’s lives across the country,” Story adds. “It’s been an amazing experience to partner with St. Jude and have the honor of fulfilling his charitable intent.”

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