The Modest Philanthropist | Jan and the Appomattox Regional Library System

May 15, 2017 3:36 pm Published by

Clad in yellow and black as an homage to her and her husband’s favorite sports teams, Jan Rowley greeted me from the top of the Hopewell Library stairs. She started part-time with the Appomattox Regional Library System nearly 20 years ago, and in 1998, she transitioned to full-time as the volunteer coordinator. Since then, she has also worked with the Friends of the Library and John Randolph Foundation.

Jan leans on the railing of the Library second floor where community members can find work stations and quiet places to read. She and her husband started giving to the Appomattox Regional Library System Endowed Fund because of their passion for universal literacy. 

In fact, Jan first encountered John Randolph Foundation while working with them to handle the management of the Appomattox Regional Library System (ARLS) Endowed Fund. She was impressed by the long view that the Foundation took in managing the finances, as well as the wealth of knowledge and guidance provided by the staff.

Ever since the Library’s endowment was created, Jan and her husband have been making regular donations. Once Ron passed away in 2009, their friends made donations in his memory, as well. Jan continued that practice of regularly giving in his name and eventually joined the Bright Futures Club at John Randolph Foundation so she could give monthly.

“Ron led a life of service. Of course he was in the military, but even before that he was very active in his school and volunteer activities. He was on PTA’s, he coached [our kids’] sports teams, he worked with the Boy Scouts, he supported me and my work with the Girl Scouts…Together, we always felt that things like universal health care and universal literacy, and access to equitable resources for the entire community were priorities for us and our family.”

Because of their dedication to their community and their belief that all people deserve access to the knowledge and resources held within the library, Ron and Jan found a way to leave a legacy of universal literacy by naming John Randolph Foundation as a beneficiary to part of their estate.

Jan has worked and volunteered at the Appomattox Regional Library System for nearly 20 years. 

“When you hear about people donating to various causes you hear about these $25,000 contributions or someone standing there with a giant check to hand over to the John Randolph Foundation. And that’s what I think is really cool. You don’t have to be that person. If you feel a passion for something, you can contribute at a really modest level, and that’s a good way to get started. What I’m giving now [and what would come to the foundation] is a very modest amount. Between my three kids and another organization it’s not gonna be that $25,000 bequest. But it’s what I can do. It makes me feel good that I can do that much, and everybody should be perfectly happy with whatever level at which they can make that commitment.”

So, the best part about naming John Randolph Foundation in her will is not the amount but the longevity that her gift will have. The Foundation invests her gifts; it grows year after year, and so does the annual grant that the Library receives. Essentially, Jan will be supporting the Library forever.

Jan enjoys that she can commemorate her husband, their marriage, and their beliefs, not just during her lifetime but for generations to come as a way to celebrate how she remembers him.

“It was great! I mean, who gets that? Who gets the great love?… He had a very dry wit, he was extremely bright both in terms of intellectual activities but also emotionally bright in terms of leadership and developing teams, that sort of thing…. He was silly and fun. He liked to sing terribly and dance terribly and play with the kids… he was an all around renaissance man.”

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This post was written by AJ James

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