Judith Haskell Brewer was a private person who strongly believed in supporting organizations that focused on the environment, arts, education, and the relief of human suffering. Committed to continuing Judith's legacy after her passing, her three sisters converted a sizable bequest from her estate into the Judith Haskell Brewer Fund with the Community Foundation. Together, they set out to disperse the entire fund towards Judith's interests within 10 years, and in 2020 they achieved that goal.
"Giving money away well is hard work, and that's what brought us to partner with the Community Foundation," said Chuck Adler, Judith's attorney who served as the fourth advisor with the fund. "The Foundation has subject-matter experts in the areas that are challenging the community, and that is something that donors can leverage. We knew we were going to need the kind of support and expertise that this organization can bring to the table."
Grants from the fund have varied in scope, with the largest including $1 million to support the environmental program and community garden at Sweet Briar College, and another $1 million for SOAR365's ARCpark, specially designed to be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. Through the years, Judith's sisters enjoyed learning about new organizations committed to worthy causes. Working together to steward this fund also brought them closer as a family and gave them a chance to share memories of Judith.
"My sister and I don't have grandchildren, but because we held annual meetings in Richmond to talk about the fund, we had wonderful family reunions that helped us become closer to our other sister's grandchildren," one sister shared. "We were also able to build relationships with several organizations, and I think some of those relationships could last a lifetime."
Judith's sisters have viewed the driving force behind their philanthropy as the desire to give to causes and organizations that excite them — and they found many places to share their excitement. After 10 years of giving, the fund has supported 179 organizations through 786 grants.
"We know that Judith is watching us, and she's happy with what we've been able to do here," reflected one sister.
See our video below about the Judith Haskell Brewer Fund’s commitment to the Greater Richmond ARCpark in 2015