Local View: Honor Lynches’ legacy of giving by helping others for holidays

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Those who know our community remark on its numerous strengths. We have excellent schools, outstanding community centers and libraries, top-notch hospitals and beautiful parks. We have wonderful people and organizations doing excellent work to create an enviable quality of life. However, our most valuable asset isn’t included on this list.

This most valuable asset is our philanthropy. And we have exceptional individuals like Ed and Dollie Lynch, recent recipients of the Vollum Award for Lifetime Achievement, to thank for their tireless efforts. They have added immensely to what so many in our community build every day.

While Ed accomplished many engineering feats at Kiewit Pacific Co., his most significant project was constructing a legacy of philanthropy with his late wife, Dollie.

In preparing the Lynches’ nomination for the Vollum Award, this legacy became even more evident. The numerous endorsements told of the countless causes and organizations the Lynches have contributed to during their 54 years in Vancouver. Each story was reinforced by the couple’s undeniable commitment, integrity and compassion for our community. Their boundless generosity built much of the philanthropic infrastructure for which our community is regarded. In effect, they built a bridge for the rest of us to cross, and inspired other leaders and philanthropists to build bridges of their own.

Through a deep desire to improve humanity and devotion to their community, Ed and Dollie have supported every significant civic endeavor they found — both personally and financially. But their enterprising spirit and belief that many hands make for light work made more of an impact than any dollar amount ever could.

This is a philosophy Ed applied to his professional leadership as well, inspiring a lineage of Kiewit executives to follow in his philanthropic footsteps. In recent years, these engineering executives have invested tens of millions of dollars in local projects and programs.

People like Ed and Dollie Lynch build more than infrastructure; their leadership inspires action and investment in our community. They help build culture — a culture that places our region’s per capita civic involvement and charitable giving in the top three within every category reported on the Civic Life in America website.

‘Duty’ to community

It’s an honor that many large cities would envy, and we owe it all to the good people who represent our communities, whether Ed and Dollie, the many who came before them or the many who are now following in their path. We owe a lot to those who regard giving as a “duty.” That sense of duty is what makes our communities stronger, as well as humanity as a whole.

Although Ed recently turned 91, he hasn’t slowed down his civic involvement, and he is not done giving. Ed understands there are many more projects ahead and announced that he’ll dedicate 98 percent of his estate to charity. His gift is also a signal to our community: our work isn’t finished.

After accepting the Vollum Award for Lifetime Philanthropic Achievement, Ed gave credit to all those who had helped him throughout his 91 years. He said the support he received from people like his family, teachers, ministers, friends and even strangers allowed him to accomplish many things. “Without all of that, I would not be here today, and I’m well aware of that. So, thank you,” he said.

On that note, let’s show our appreciation for generous role models like Ed and Dollie by helping others this holiday season, and throughout our lives. Please donate to the charity of your choice and help make our community even better. Let’s all contribute to building bridges for the many who will follow in our paths.

There’s nothing greater to be thankful for than a strong culture of giving in our community. Thanks, Ed and Dollie, for continuing to build bridges and showing us all how it’s done.

Richard Melching is president of Community Foundation for Southwest Washington.