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Dayton Native Proves Everyone Has Something to Offer

Sherre CollierAfter 33 years as a civil servant for the United States Air Force, most recently as the Chief of Force Development Division, Manpower, Personnel and Services Directorate for the Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson AFB, Sherre Collier was ready for her second chapter.

Giving and helping others were passions instilled in her since childhood. So, she naturally decided to apply for a fellowship position with The Dayton Foundation’s Del Mar Encore Fellows initiative when it launched in 2017. The Del Mar Encore Fellows connects retired or career-transitioning older adults with local nonprofit organizations working to solve critical community issues. As a Fellow, Sherre found a new project with Brunner Literacy Center where she could share her talents and experiences.

Share a little about your work as a Del Mar Encore Fellow and your work with Brunner Literacy Center.

When I retired my goal was to be more involved and impactful in my community. The Del Mar Encore Fellows is a big part of that goal. As a Fellow assigned to Brunner Literacy Center, my primary role is to help recruit and develop volunteer tutors to meet the literacy needs of students at Brunner, as well as to advocate on behalf of adults with literacy challenges. I also tackle other special projects as needed. For instance, I worked with a team of students from the University of Dayton to create a student and volunteer management database for the Center, and I am completing an initiative to identify resources and gaps in providing literacy services to English speakers of other languages.

How is this work meaningful to you?

Literacy education always has been a part of my life, ever since I was a little girl. My father was born and raised in Mississippi, and his family was sharecroppers. Because of the work, he dropped out of school in the fifth grade. When I was about the age of 12, I became my father’s tutor as he worked to improve his literacy skills.

The work I am doing now is a way for me to honor him and so many other really smart people, who, for whatever reason, did not get to complete their education. I am inspired by the volunteer tutors who are passionate and committed to the students they serve, and I get to celebrate with the tutors and students as they accomplish their goals.

I also am working directly in the community in which I live - Trotwood and Dayton. That was one of my retirement goals.

How did you first hear about the African-American Community Fund (AACF) of The Dayton Foundation?

I was first introduced to them through a presentation The Dayton Foundation made to my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

There are so many organizations that could use financial assistance. It’s difficult to decide where to share your resources; and individually, a person’s resources are limited. The African-American Community Fund provides a collection of community-minded members who bring knowledge and experience to a process that evaluates proposals and sets criteria for selecting grant recipients from the fund. This gives me confidence that my few dollars will be distributed wisely. It also provides a diversity of projects that I would not find on my own.

Why did you decide to open a Charitable Checking Account through AACF?

Community service always has been present in my life. My mother required it. Whether through my church mission groups, school or other organizations, my brothers and I spent many hours on service projects and considering the needs of others. I passed this same expectation to my children. I also learned over the years the power of collective resources. In reading about the many wonderful projects that have been supported by AACF, I decided that I also would include my resources for the greater good. My Charitable Checking AccountSM helps me to save money for charitable donations and track these donations to various organizations. That, too, is an attractive benefit.

What advice can you share about giving to help others?

If all you have is one dollar, multiply the power of your dollar through the African-American Community Fund or some other group. It will make a difference, as every little bit helps.

What inspires you about your community?

I am inspired by those who work as volunteers to change lives. I am also inspired by those who are overcoming challenges and vulnerability to seek help. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in many discussions, particularly with my other Del Mar Encore Fellows. There is a lot of work going on in the community. The more we collaborate and coordinate, the more we can accomplish.

How would you complete this sentence, “My giving makes me feel____”?

...Joy.

Read more stories about Dayton Foundation donors who were inspired to create a legacy in honor of their loved ones, or to make a difference in their community.

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File date: 5.02.19

IN HIS WORDS

John Edgar

“Towards the end of Cindy’s life, she asked me, ‘After I’m gone, what will there be to say that I was here?’ Establishing this fund was her way to continue reaching out and touching children’s lives, as she did throughout her lifetime.” – John Edgar, donor, on the Remar Family and John and Cindy Edgar Endowment Fund

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