Many women of Taylor continue to commit themselves to the community around them, long after their own graduations.
For nine years, Executive Director of Development Kristie Jacobson has had the joy of working with alumni and parents of former Taylor students who all have maintained the desire to stay connected to the university.
Working for Taylor immediately after her graduation in 1990, Jacobson was beginning to see the ways that the Taylor community harbored long-lasting connections with its students and their family members. However, it wasn’t until 2013 that she would be able to see just how powerful those connections could be.
It was in this year that Jacobson not only took on the position of regional director after taking a break from working at Taylor, but the year that she joined the Women’s Giving Circle. This group was created two years prior, in 2011, by the previous Chief of Staff Sherri Harter.
Giving circles have become a phenomenon across the nation. From groups of friends creating their own private non-profit groups to large organizations like Taylor creating their own circles, these collections of people have the potential to create a significant change in the community they inhabit.
“My predecessor, Sherri Harter, attended an Advancement conference where she heard about a Women’s Giving Circle program at another university,” Jacobson said. “Knowing the Taylor community so well, she felt it would be a perfect fit for Taylor.”
When Jacobson stepped into the position she holds now, it became her responsibility to manage the Women’s Giving Circle.
With new women joining each year, the Women’s Giving Circle at Taylor is constantly changing and including fresh faces to carry out that exact goal. Each passing year brings new women who are striving to make a difference in the community and give back to a cause that is bigger than them.
One way these women accomplish this is through the grants they have created, which are awarded to faculty. Starting out with grants of $5,000, the women have been able to see their numbers grow, allowing for grants of $10,000 to be endowed. These grants aid s faculty with academic projects that cannot be fully enacted through a department budget.
Members of the group span vastly in age, the youngest being 27 years old and the oldest, a 92-year-old alumna from the class of 1950 who just recently passed away. No matter the stage in life, these women have been able to come together with the common goal of serving Christ in order to give back to their community.
These women lead busy lives and yet they have continued to follow the calling that God has given them. Making another person’s life better and walking alongside them as they do, is what makes this Women’s Giving Circle so impactful.
“Women are incredibly strong,” Jacobson said. “We are tenacious and scrappy; we’re innovators and we push through to get things accomplished and advocate for others because it’s part of who we are. Women often have so many responsibilities it can get overwhelming, yet they still stop to see the deeper and more important parts of life worth their investment of time.”
Jacobson sees that women are able to uniquely contribute to the kingdom of God through their own incredible talents and gifts. She connects the Giving Circle to Proverbs 31:20-31, which describes women in a way where strength and dignity take the forefront.
By using their spiritual gifts and talents, these women have already begun to make an impact.
“We have given away close to $750,000 in grants, which has had a significant impact on our faculty and students and Taylor Fund,” Jacobson said. “Knowing that our faculty and students are able to accomplish projects that would not have been possible without these dollars is hugely gratifying for the women.”
These grants keep students at Taylor and further their learning in the classrooms on campus. Without these women, life at Taylor would be drastically different, the student body cut down and the academic exploits diminished.
The Women’s Giving Circle has created a space where strong and resilient women can help those around them, extending a hand to those who need it and standing together to make their peers’ futures a little brighter.
“With all of us committed to Jesus first and foremost, we all desire to see God’s will accomplished through the dollars we award,” Jacobson said.