Joe and Linda Chlapaty are terrific representatives of philanthropy in action. From their financial support and volunteer service for a variety of nonprofit organizations, to their commitment to investing in the future, both are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others. The couple, who reside in Dublin, have been married 31 years and are the proud parents of four sons and grandparents of seven. We sat down recently to discuss their giving, and how they are creating an incredible legacy.
You’ve both been very involved in financially supporting nonprofits in our community, as well as others, especially in Dubuque, Iowa, through the Chlapaty Family Fund. What areas of interest are especially meaningful to you?
Joe: Childhood health and education are very important to us. Helping kids in underserved communities, that’s really what we are interested in doing. There’s a natural tie-in to Nationwide Children’s Hospital and KIPP, which we support. I’m a strong supporter of my alma mater, the University of Dubuque, which has a history of serving underserved students. In terms of the arts, we’ve been very strong supporters of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (CSO), and we gave a major gift to help the University of Dubuque build a fine arts/performing arts center. We felt the campus needed to have that type of facility to enhance student experience for those who wanted to perform. When the inaugural event was held in May 2013, we brought the CSO to Dubuque and had an opening gala event with Gil Shaham. It was magnificent!
You’ve also been involved in a very hands-on way with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). How did you get involved, and why is the organization important to you?
Linda: I retired from teaching and wanted something to do where I was still involved with children. I happened to read an article about CASA in The Columbus Dispatch asking for volunteers. I took the class, and I have been involved now for 17 years.
Joe: Linda has been a very strong advocate and active participant in the program. She has spent countless hours working on behalf of children in troubled situations. She had one case involving four children that went on for five years. She drove 16,000 miles on that case during that time period.
Your bequest, currently the largest unrestricted gift in the Foundation’s history, will be used to help address emerging needs as our community changes over the coming years. What is it about Columbus and its residents that inspires you to make sure it continues to grow and thrive?
Joe: We have been very fortunate to have lived in Columbus. It’s a great town as far as I am concerned. The longer I’ve been here the more I’ve come to appreciate the stable atmosphere and traditional environment. I can understand the problems that are created when someone gives a restricted gift because events change. If you’re giving an estate gift, who knows, 40 years from now, what the real need is going to be. My philosophy is to say to The Columbus Foundation, “You select where the monies should go. You’re going to know a lot better when the time comes and when the need is there, where that need is most urgent.” I think it’s just trying to be realistic and flexible.
The Columbus Foundation is proud to honor Joe and Linda Chlapaty with the Harrison M. Sayre Award for their ongoing service to our community and beyond.