The following is a speech by Trish Dressen, Executive Director of the NCCIL, given at the 2019 Community Foundation of Abilene Annual Luncheon.

My name is Trish Dressen and I am the Executive Director of the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, Abilene’s storybook gem, just down the road.

I first want to thank the Community Foundation of Abilene for allowing me the opportunity to stand up here and thank all of you insanely generous men and women.

Professionally, I am somewhat new to the non-profit world. However, having had the privilege to grow up in Abilene, I don’t know anyone who spent their formative years in this community can say we are “new” to the non-profit world. Their value is ingrained in us early on.

And I like to think that if you didn’t grow up here, part of what drew you to this community was that same passion we all see in so many others. We live with a mentality that is a “do unto others” one might say; a mantra that not only gives back, but brings deeper meaning to our own lives.

And the beauty of it?

It comes in a wide variety of diverse forms. You can always find a way to give back. Sometimes it’s with your checkbook; sometimes it’s with your time; sometimes it’s with your blood, sweat and tears.

It can be donating clothing, assisting in medical care, providing meals, making a space for local artists to thrive, creating an outlet for those with cancer to overcome, or being a safe haven for those who need for a RESPITE from danger.

In my case, in the NCCIL’s case, it means providing access to free fine art experiences to anyone and everyone; treating art, including that from children’s picture books, with the dignity and respect it deserves; and inspiring a people of all ages to read and be creative.

Now, one might ask themselves how on earth you could choose from so many worthwhile endeavors; between so many different incredible causes.

What I am so thankful for with the Community Foundation as whole is that they allow and help guide you to find your SPECIFIC passions to serve. If the diverse landscapes of non-profits overwhelm you and you’re not certain where to give back…the Community Foundation is the answer to all your philanthropic riddles.

My cause might not be your cause. Your cause might not be mine. But because of institutions like the Community Foundation we can, sometimes unknowingly, make our community bigger and better and greater and braver TOGETHER because of your generosity.

The VERY foundation of this community is rooted in Philanthropy; you can, quite literally, see it all over town.

If you’re unsure, find a fellow ED in this room and they can tell you exactly where to look; it’s hard to miss once you know.

And I’m going to speak for a second for my fellow ED friends: I can say with ABSOLUTE certainty: none of us care where you chose to be generous; we are just grateful that you chose to give.

Because we know that your generous gifts strengthen EVERY FIBER that stitch this beautiful community together.

We know that those we serve NEED a STRONG community in which to thrive.

We know that helping ONE of us is TRULY helping ALL of us.

I want to close with a quote from a book that is in our upcoming exhibition from Yuyi Morales that opens Nov. 14th during Artwalk:

“Someday we will all become something we haven’t even yet imagined…”

I imagine them to be like the Abilenians in this room: to be the Dreamers, to be to be the Doers, to be philanthropists, just like all of you. Please accept our humble thanks.