A recent interview on Talking Health on KQEN focused on one local family that gives financially to the community to support projects, to children’s health programs and are supporters of the Mercy Foundation’s Festival of Trees that just completed its 24th year on Dec. 3.
Talking Health host Lisa Platt visited with Jim and Dotty Stapleton, owners of TMS Call Center and their son and daughter, Jeff Randall and Kelly Lowman, who are also involved in the company, about their philosophy around charitable giving and their participation in the Festival of Trees in support of children’s programs.
The following is an edited version of the program from Nov. 27.
Lisa: Let’s start with why you give?
Dotty: I grew up helping people and giving them a direction. Then, when I started having children, the important thing was for them to understand what it is to be helpful, whether it’s to your neighbors, the kids at the school, with your kids or in a daycare.
One of my favorite things was helping get the alternative education school going, because there are people who need additional opportunities, and my kids have seen that. I hope they’ve picked up on the fact that it does your soul good when you help others achieve some kind of success.
Lisa: You all are very philanthropic in our community and I want to talk to you about what you look for and why you give to so many nonprofit organizations.
Dotty: It’s extremely important to me, and I believe for the rest of the family as well. We have so many needs in our immediate community, and with limited resources, so I have personally chosen to support organizations that only serve Douglas County residents, especially those with a focus on children and which also have a low administrative cost.
Kelly: I agree with Dotty, and I’m personally committed to organizations that benefit the children of our community. Kids are our future, and they’re the most vulnerable members of this community. They also have the greatest opportunity to succeed with the right opportunities and the right people by their side. So I can give my time, money, resources and whatever, to help in any way to provide those opportunities. That’s really my focus, and I think it pays back.
Jeff: Kelly and I are just starting our journey in the philanthropic pursuits, and I’ve started to become part of the Blue Zone Project, which has some things near and dear to us.
Lisa: I want to talk about generational giving. Dotty and Jim, you’re planting seeds. Why are you doing that with your kids?
Jim: You have to remember where this all starts, and it was with our parents. My mom and dad both were very involved with their church, and there’s the passing of the hat and volunteerism. Dotty’s dad was a veterinarian, and went around the world helping people.
Lisa: Jeff and Kelly, tell us why you are passionate about your giving and your volunteerism?
Jeff: I feel like I am personally just beginning my journey as far as helping the community out there, and as I get older, it’s certainly more apparent what the needs are. Given a little time and money here and there, that makes all the difference in the world.
Kelly: I actually spent a lot of my high school career volunteering. I logged hundreds of volunteer hours. I also had a lot of free time, and it’s amazing what a career, family and children do to your free time, but I also don’t see that as an excuse. It is as an opportunity to get my kids involved in some charitable work in some way or another.
But people have their own interest and own beliefs as far as what this community needs ,and they’re putting their money and their time where their mouth is. I see it with friends of mine, and it’s great. When there’s a need, people rally around those who need it. So my goal is to become a bit more involved.
Lisa: One thing our community needs to know is that you do some scholarship programs that are very important.
Jeff: The one scholarship program that we’ve been doing for eight or nine years, the Lance Michael Emmons Scholarship, is a memorial scholarship for our brother who passed away in 2008. One of his passions was music. With the help of Jim and Dotty, and friends and partners, we put together a scholarship program, and honestly it’s underutilized, so students, go to your counselor’s office and ask for the scholarship form.
Dotty: The purpose is to give people in this community the opportunity for a higher education. It’s a passion; education is huge on my radar, and the cost of higher education is exorbitant. There’s tremendous value, but the cost is something else.
So we’re trying to help our local students who do want to pursue a higher education, and hope that they come back to the community and serve our community.
Lisa: As a family why did you choose to be a presenting sponsor of the Festival of Trees?
Dotty: I think we looked at the Mercy Foundation mission, helping the children of our county, and one of the first projects that we did was putting washer and dryers in all of the elementary schools. That shows the need in our community.
The dental initiative is another one. The foundation is serving kids throughout Douglas County and helping ensure they have great dental health. These are a couple of the reasons we decided we wanted to be a presenting sponsor.
Kelly: If we want to put our name on something it should be the right thing, and it’s very apparent that Lisa and the foundation have a wonderful mission. I am personally so proud to be associated with the Festival of Trees and what it provides for our community, so when this opportunity came up, we discussed it, and we’ll be involved as long as you want us to be.