The Columbus Foundation is proud to honor Don and Nancy Kelley and Family with this award, and applauds their generosity, dedication, and commitment to make our community stronger.
Don Kelley is the founder of Donald W. Kelley and Associates, Inc. and Comopeka Investments. He and his wife, Nancy, began their association with The Columbus Foundation in 1992, when they established the Donald W. and Nancy E. Kelley Fund. Since then, six additional funds have been created, including three by the couple’s sons, Tim, Pat, and Terry. With a passion for helping those less fortunate, and a large extended family now actively involved in philanthropy,the Kelleys exemplify the vision Harrison M. Sayre had—to create a stronger,better city. Don and Nancy offered their thoughts on giving, and how it has shaped them throughout their lives.
Your family has been extremely generous, supporting a variety of causes throughout the central Ohio community. What motivates you to give?
DON: Seeds of generosity were planted in me by parents, teachers, coaches,and life experiences. The seeds have been nourished through relationships with friends, business associates, and challenging work. I believe that everything we are or have has been a gift. Twenty five years ago, our family decided to allocate a percentage of the profit of business ventures to charitable causes.
NANCY: I feel any spirit of generosity that I have is in my blood. From an early age, I recall wanting to help people in need—classmates, relatives, or someone on the street. Credit goes to my parents, Walter and Loretta Plank, and my siblings, all of whom were good role models. Although limited financially, our family found ways of reaching out to help others. What a joy it is for us today, as a family, to carry out and build on this tradition.
You have a focus on supporting projects to revitalize the South Side. Why is this important to both of you?
DON: We have joined life-long friends, and others with South Side roots, in forming a public-private partnership. The commitments, expertise, and resources provided by Franklin County, City of Columbus, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and our partners and neighborhood leaders,inspire and energize us. The fruits of our coming together will be evidenced by the opening of the Reeb Avenue Community Center in September.
NANCY: My roots are deep in the South Side; both grandparents and their families lived only a few blocks from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and I grew up on Oakwood Avenue near Deshler. At this time, it was an ideal place to grow up. I felt the strong support of neighbors, and of our church and school at Corpus Christi Parish. My hope is that we can bring this spirit to children in South Side neighborhoods today.
Has basic needs always been an area of philanthropic interest for you?
DON: Having personally experienced the dehumanization that accompanies the inability to find a job or relief from an unfortunate circumstance causes us to direct our resources to the personal realities that unfold in the lives of the working poor and the unemployed. We are especially interested in the areas of education and re-training.
NANCY: I remember my father working at Smith’s Shoe Factory. Pay was meager and work was not always available. However, I never thought of us as poor. Yet, I could imagine how difficult it would be to be without strong family ties and good friends for support in deep times of need. Working with St. Vincent de Paul over many years, and in the inner city in the 1960s, I came to know what happens in emergency situations without support from family and friends.
What do you love about Columbus?
DON: The Columbus economy is healthy and strong. The future is promising. Living in Columbus, we have been blessed with visionary politicians, educators, researchers,and business leaders. Based on recent development activities evidenced by substantial investment in the revitalization of downtown, the Scioto River, and suburban areas, our city is on the threshold of becoming one of the outstanding cities in the Midwest. We are pleased to be a small part of this revitalization.
NANCY: As a third-generation family in Columbus, we are deeply involved in the city. From our early beginnings on the South Side, to East Columbus in South Bexley raising our family, and continuing as residents of Whitehall for the last 51 years, we have always found good people who shared our values and sense of helping one another, as needed, all along the way.