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The Philanthropy Messenger

The Story Behind the Stories: One Man’s Desire to Remember his Parents through a Program of Generosity

The numbers tell the story. Numbers which relate the story of dollars and cents, of lives which are changed, of stories which are written and plans made and dreams made real.

Philanthropy(drawing) (2)Over the past 18 years, the numbers have grown, the grants have been funded, the dollars have increased as projects have been approved, and checks have been written. It has been an amazing saga of philanthropy, right here in Salisbury and Rowan County. And it all has happened because of one man—Julian H. Robertson, Jr. —and his desire to remember his parents through a program of generosity administered by a dozen volunteers following his wishes to share his wealth in as heartfelt and serious a manner as possible.

Some $32 million has been directed from the Blanche & Julian Robertson Family Foundation to the special projects and plans of nearly 160 organizations, through grants ranging in size from $900 to $2 million. Smiles of joy and immense satisfaction to hugs and tears of disbelief accompanied the grants. It was a sight to behold and experience. On the receiving end of the gifts were folk of all ages— youth, teens, mid-teens, young adults, older adults, seniors, and those who do not admit to being seniors but those for whom the calendar begs to differ.

I have had the privilege of being the messenger for many of these gifts and seeing those faces of disbelief and sharing the tears of joy. What a pleasure that was.

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Championship Coach’s Advice to Parents: Look at the Child First

Yang’s dental office on Statesville Boulevard is decorated with congratulatory photos and messages, along with pictures of other kids’ teams that he has coached in the past 12 years.

This winning coach has a message for parents about kids’ sports: “Look at the child first. Sometimes, if you were in sports as a child, you want your children to be like you. It’s a crap shoot, 50/50,” whether that will work out. “Sometimes the child has no desire or no athletic ability and he gets into music or something else. Or your child may be athletically gifted and not ready to be pushed. Don’t push. No matter how talented your child is, if he does not have the desire, it’s not going to work.”

Yang has pushed in the past. He is the father of twins, John and Alex, who are seniors at Salisbury High School this year. They are athletes. Yang became a coach when the boys started youth
sports at age 5. “When my boys were younger, I was very strong-willed and pushed to the extreme,” he says. “I have turned that around. I know that you need to look at what the kids want. It’s not all about winning.”

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Michelle Patterson is chairman of the Rowan County Re-Branding Task Force. As Director of Fun for Patterson Farm Market & Tours, Patterson has grown the family farm into a destination for school tours, family weekends and special events. The next creative idea is always just around the corner for her.

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