The 25th anniversary of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee is a unique, landmark opportunity to look back at the many, many things we have accomplished with and for our region, our donors and the nonprofit organizations and communities we have served. But it is also a time to look forward, and to think about how to best optimize and continue our mission across the next 25 years.
The Nashville that The Community Foundation grew up in is not the Nashville we live in today. Similarly, the 42 counties that surround us and are part of our footprint of “connecting generosity with need” have changed and have grown dramatically as well: culturally, demographically, economically and technologically. We are no longer just another Southern city. Instead, we are the international symbol and model of the new Modern South.
Not everyone in our communities has shared in our newfound affluence, abundance and self-esteem. There are still families who live in poverty next to gentrifying neighborhoods. Children who still go hungry within walking distance of some of our most popular new restaurants. Students who still do not have access to a quality education or the internet across our region — much less Google Fiber.
People without the resources to travel beyond their public housing development, and who have never seen the inside of the Ryman Auditorium, or a sunrise over Percy Priest or Old Hickory lakes.
But as we look to our next 25 years, one thing is clear. Our work is not done.
For me, the flood of 2010 taught us many lessons. In particular, when we recognize human need wherever it is and work together without regard to barriers — real or perceived barriers — we can do remarkable things. The flood changed us, and perhaps initiated much of the collaborative spirit that is now the signature characteristic of our city and our region.
But the flood isn’t over. In fact, there are hundreds if not thousands of floods all around us today. They are perhaps harder to see or easier to ignore, but until we recognize them and are motivated to turn those dark waters into rising tides of opportunity for all Nashvillians and Middle Tennesseans, we will not become the city and the region we have the potential to be.
And our work is not done.
We look forward to working with all of you in our next 25 years.