Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Visit With John Siebert

Executive Director of Parks and Recreation John Siebert was recently quoted in this article as saying, “This city has a legacy of support for the parks. A culture of extraordinary volunteerism and philanthropy has made our parks system shine.” I was curious as to how he came to that conclusion and what philanthropy meant to him as a public servant.

I recently had the opportunity to meet with John. He is a slim, mustached man with a friendly smile and even friendlier demeanor. After he kindly offered me a bottle of water, we began to talk.

It didn't take long for me to realize John's affection for Valparaiso. He's been in the community since 1980 working with a host of esteemed organizations in addition to the Parks Department such as Porter Hospital, the YMCA, Mayor Costas, Opportunity Enterprises, and Housing Opportunities to name a few. His rich experience with Valparaiso lends a great deal of validity to his opinion on philanthropy in the community.

“Valparaiso is an extraordinary community of corporate philanthropists and individual philanthropists,” John said with gusto. “The culture of selflessness is a unique part of this community. The core quality of Valparaiso is its giving culture.” The memorial fountain pictured below is an example of this giving as it was entirely funded with private donations.

The Memorial Fountain commemorates duty & sacrifice, charity, hope, and friendship.

John credits his faith for his steadfast service to the community. All faiths including the secular worldviews encourage humanity through kindness to one another. In his eyes, the giver often becomes the receiver. Whether the rewards of philanthropy come from a religious faith or from one's own personal satisfaction, the tradition of giving will not fade any time soon in Valparaiso.

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