I had the opportunity to participate in a special evening earlier this fall. Back on October 9th, the Yadkin County Community Foundation had its annual dinner —attendance this year was the highest in recent memory with nearly 90 current and past board members, fundholders and friends attending. Yadkin County’s population is estimated at a little over 38,000. So — if 90 people attended that’s about .25% of the population. Doesn’t sound like a lot. To put that into perspective, if .25% of the population of New York City (est. population 8.2M) attended a community foundation event you would need tables and chairs for over 20,000 people.
There is a reason for this year’s spike in attendance. Traditionally, YCCF has recognized a “Philanthropist of the Year” at these events. The recipient of this honor has not been made known to the public in advance. This year, however, the YCCF Board of Advisors made the decision to honor the memory and legacy of Mrs. Susan Steelman —a past YCCF board member and founder of one its funds.
Mrs. Steelman passed away back in August. To say she was well- known and well-loved would be an understatement. Mrs. Steelman led a life devoted to service and her community. She was an educator in the Yadkin County Schools for 40 years. She played an instrumental role in the early years of the Yadkin County Community Foundation and created an endowment fund to support the Deep Creek Friends Church in Yadkinville where she served in a variety of leadership roles. For many years, she was an ardent supporter of Yadkin Christian Ministries.
I never met Mrs. Steelman. I did get to spend some time with her daughter, Janet Robbins, who lives with her husband just outside of Yadkinville on the same land where she grew up. Janet generously shared stories of her mother — stories that made clear her energy, passion and resolve; stories about feeding her cows and push-mowing her lawn well into the later years of her life. And a story about a baby calf that was born around the same time that Mrs. Steelman passed away. The decision was made to name this new calf in honor of Mrs. Steelman. Turns out it was a bull. A boy named Sue.
Mrs. Steelman’s two daughters — along with several other members of her family — attended this event and were presented with a commemorative plaque honoring Mrs. Steelman’s “Spirit of Philanthropy.” I felt privileged to be a part of the event held in her honor.