I frequently write about legacy funds as plans for the future. This article is about a gift to our community from Dr. Robin Ballantyne. Robin Ballantyne was a physician who passed away in 2012, whose legacy fund at the Community Foundation has helped dozens of very young people in our community; and it will continue to do so forever.
Attorney Gus Rossie introduced Dr. Ballantyne to the Community Foundation in 2004. Robin had strong feelings about the importance of reading to young children. He felt it was important to help exceptional very young children in low-income families have the opportunity for early exposure to literature and other important early educational resources and curriculum.
It took the Community Foundation several months, but we were able to design a program to reach out to young families and identify such children ages 2.5-4 year of age. We offered them the opportunity to be tested for their early reading ability potential. Those testing exceptionally high were provided with a full-year scholarship to an academic preschool. The UNR Early Childhood Department and the Washoe County Department of Social Services worked with us to develop the test and identify preschools that would qualify based on their curriculum. The Read with Me Scholarship fund awarded the first two preschool scholarships in 2005.
After the scholarships were awarded each year Dr. Ballantyne hosted a picnic to meet the children and their parents. The children who had received scholarships in past years came so they could share how they were doing in school. These were joyful occasions and I felt privileged to attend. I got to know Robin very well, often stopping by his house just to chat. When he passed, Dr. Ballantyne permanently endowed the Read with Me Scholarship which continues to this day. A group of local friends and associates of Dr. Ballantyne serve on the selection committee and choose from the group of qualified students each year. Following Dr. Ballantyne’s wishes, we conduct tests once a year, on a Saturday, and each child receives a box of animal crackers to welcome them. The test is conducted in English or Spanish.
Dr. Robin Ballantyne is one of more than 60 individuals and families who have made legacy gifts, or who have made arrangements for their gift to be made someday in the future. We take these gifts VERY seriously. We honor those generous people who give back to make our lives, and our community, a better place. The Legacy Society members are respected and honored members of the Community Foundation. We collect estate documents, photos, stories, and instructions to be sure we make people’s legacy plans come true; and also so that we can share their stories like I am sharing Dr. Ballantyne’s story with you now.
I grew very close to Dr. Ballantyne. He was a friend, and I loved him.
He gave us the additional honor of serving as the trustee of his estate, which we did at no fee to be sure that all of his assets could be placed in the Read with Me Scholarship endowment, to help brilliant preschoolers be all that they can be.
This is one of the very most important services the Community Foundation offers. The Legacy Society will transform our community for the better. Please join me in honoring all of the selfless people who have visions and dreams of helping others, by giving back in ways that are meaningful to them, and helpful to all of us, and future generations of Nevadans like Max, pictured left, whose favorite book is Pete the Cat.
This is your Community Foundation, and it is our privilege to serve. Please give me a call at 775-333-5499.
Chris Askin, President, and CEO
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