Bloom Where You Are Planted
Roni Johnson’s story as told to Kelly Shrock
I didn’t realize it at the time, but my parents instilled in me the importance of being a part of your community.
My dad owned a drugstore and my mom was a teacher. I remember working many, many hours at the drugstore instead of going to dances and football games. And I remember planting flowers on the median in the highway so we could have a more beautiful community. Between both my mom and my dad, they saw the importance of giving back to the community to make it a community they wanted to live in, thrive in, and to raise their children in.
As a business owner, you can’t expect a community to support you if you don’t support the community. My dad was president of the School Board and a lot of those activities kept us very involved. I guess I didn’t realize it back then, but that helped me on the path to understanding it is important to go to functions and to know what’s going on in your community.
I remember my first volunteer activity was at the hospital as a Pink Lady. And then one thing led to another . . . you start in one group, and somebody else asks you to join another group, and then another group and then another group. It was very rewarding for me. So I got involved in the hospital and the symphony and many other community organizations, which then led to Oliver Bumb, The Community Foundation’s first Executive Director, calling me. He wanted me to work part-time as his assistant.
First of all, I had no idea what a community foundation was. And besides, I couldn’t even type. He said the typing wasn’t important. He wanted me because he’d known of my various volunteer activities over the years and he knew I knew a lot of the people he was approaching through the Foundation—people who could use it for their charitable giving—and he wanted me to work with him because of my familiarity with the people in our community.
The door was opened for me at The Community Foundation because of my sense of home and responsibility, and my desire to improve and be a part of the community I was living in. The community where I was raising my children.
I really was so impressed with what The Community Foundation was doing, and what it was going to be growing into. We were beginning to talk about different types of funds and how people could use The Community Foundation for their own personal charitable giving. And then we got involved in grantmaking. When nonprofit organizations needed funding the Foundation could assist them to do good things, to become better and to become stronger. And whether it happened to be in economic development, education, the arts, or human services, they were doing a little bit of everything for everybody and it was just really exciting because the concept of a community foundation was new. As we grew, we started getting involved in state meetings to share our story because we were one of the forerunners.
I really had an epiphany about the strength and importance of the Foundation when a group of folks wanted support for their church cemetery. They had no idea what a community foundation was. These families had always taken care of the cemetery, but they were getting older and they realized the day was going to come when they probably had to pay someone to take care of the property and no one had the money to do it. There was a very kind gentleman who invited me to come to the church, a little church across from the cemetery, to explain The Community Foundation.
I remember standing there that evening in front of this group of people who knew nothing about a foundation; all they knew was that they wanted their parents and their grandparents’ grave sites to remain intact and cared for after they no longer could do it.
I stood in front of them and thought: This is what it’s all about. This is what it’s really all about.
Meeting with people who just wanted to do something good, but didn’t know how to get it done.
I explained how The Community Foundation could be the tool to help them with their wishes. Such a sweet little church. I will never forget that evening, and it helped me realize why I was doing this work. This is what’s really important. That was just a very special evening.
That experience made me thankful that Oliver Bumb noticed my work from the many committees we worked on together, and that he offered me the job. I was involved in the community, someone noticed.
It all started with my parents and the example they set. They always told me to bloom where you are planted. Your home is always where you are and Muncie is my home.
Kelly Shrock is President of The Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County, where she works with donors, nonprofit organizations, community volunteers, and civic leaders to create a legacy that will benefit our community for years to come. Kelly’s community involvement includes Board service for Muncie & Delaware County BY5 Early Childhood Initiative, Delaware Advancement Corporation, First Presbyterian Church, the Muncie Action Plan, and Psi Iota Xi. She and her husband, Joel, live in Muncie with their three sons.