The Legacy of Giving
Wildish Family builds community with Oregon Community Foundation
By Jim Wildish, President and CEO of Wildish
Jim Wildish is President and CEO of Wildish, which includes construction, building, paving and sand and gravel companies. Wildish donations, including those from the Norman and Olga Evelyn Wildish Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, have benefited more than 100 Willamette Valley organization.
When my dad, Thomas C. Wildish, left North Dakota for Oregon in the 1930s, he left behind the rolling prairies but not the commitments he’d made. Dad had promised to guarantee the loan for a school building. He kept paying on that commitment until it was completed, many years after he moved away and started a business in Eugene.
Wildish, a family-owned company since 1935, has two family legacies: providing the construction and paving services that Eugene and western states have come to rely on while, as quietly as possible, giving back to the communities we live and work in through charitable gifts.
We don’t say it a lot. We prefer to leave the credit to the hardworking people who run the nonprofits or coach the sports teams, and to our employees, whose efforts are a key to our success. Yet, we also realize it’s important to highlight the difference it makes to our community when successful people and businesses give back.
Wildish donates to a variety of causes through the company, and we also contribute through the Norman and Olga Evelyn Wildish Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation. Family member Norm Wildish created The Oregon Community Foundation fund during his lifetime and bequeathed his assets to it after his death. Now I, along with my sons and nephew, have the pleasure of contributing through the fund to causes that are important for the Eugene-Springfield area, including kids’ programs, the arts, natural resources and health organizations.
Norm wanted these contributions to do as much good as possible. Fortunately, Oregon Community Foundation provides us with the essential research we need to do the most good, so that we can stay focused on our daily work. We trust Oregon Community Foundation’s local staff. They know us and understand what we care about, suggesting projects we might want to fund throughout the year, informing us about how others are supporting them and providing updates on the programs we contribute to annually.
I know that the Oregon Community Foundation would describe what they do as comprehensive and strategic, with statewide reach and local expertise. They offer insights, relationships and time to us, which ensures our individual philanthropy has an even greater impact in our community. That’s a valuable asset to us. Astute financial management of the fund ensures consistent growth, so we can continue to do more good, longer. And the due-diligence Oregon Community Foundation applies to nonprofit recommendations ensures that the causes we support are managing their money well, too.
The Oregon Community Foundation puts donated money to work in Oregon, fulfilling a mission of improving the lives of all Oregonians through the power of philanthropy. We’re glad to be a part of it. We’re proud of both Wildish legacies – our business and our philanthropy. We feel privileged that we get to continue them through the generations.
To learn more about starting a philanthropic fund through The Oregon Community Foundation or contributing to a pooled fund with other donors, visit www.oregoncf.org/donors/donor-overview
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