by DAVID AFT

You could’ve heard a pin drop. The crowd of 600 fell silent as Dot McCrory positioned herself on the stage clutching a piece of paper with her wrinkled hands. After clearing her throat, she leaned near the mic and read a poem she had carefully crafted for her friend, Jeanne Burr. She spoke of generosity, personal commitment, love, and fellowship. These were the powerful words—carefully chosen—she used to convey her friend’s significant financial contribution to build and maintain a park in Downtown Dalton.

At 94, both Dot McCrory and her friend, Jeanne Burr, are just a few years from becoming Centenarians. They are part of what Tom Brokaw celebrated as, The Greatest Generation, pulled from a line in his 2013 book that read, “It is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced.”

Men and women in Dot and Jeanne’s age group are made of different stuff than the rest of us. They have lived their lives not for fame, reward, and recognition, but with a high moral compass rarely witnessed in today’s world. They’ve acted bravely and selflessly and did things because it was simply, “the right thing to do.”

People nearing 100 consider each day as a gift and view time as a fleeting dimension. A Centenarian is very aware that their window of opportunity is closing, and they feel an urgency—a compelling call to act—that many of us do not understand yet.

Jeanne Burr understood this when she visited the office in December of 2016 inquiring about ways to give back that would continue giving back well into the future. She wanted to put a legacy project into motion that would send the world a message—that the arts are for everyone and bring people together. And she wanted to live to see it take flight.

We helped her fast track a design and initiate the Burr Performing Arts Project, which yielded a beautiful greenspace with a full-sized performance stage in the heart of Downtown Dalton. We celebrated its opening in May this year at what our community called, JeanneFest 2.0. Hundreds of people came out to personally thank Jeanne and inaugurate the newest addition to Dalton’s burgeoning attractions and landmarks. It was there in the quiet of an attentive crowd that Dot McCrory delivered her tribute.

If you haven’t heard of Jeanne Burr or the lovely park she has given to our city, please take three minutes and watch the video below, then ponder your own imprints on humanity—your own legacy project. As always, our Foundation can help you craft a project that will make a difference now and forever. Call us and give us the honor of helping you.

David Aft is the president of the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia. He has worked in the nonprofit field for over twenty-five years and is a recognized resource and noted speaker on charitable enterprise, civics, fundraising strategy and community development.

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