Now an executive in the high-powered world of finance, Kim Tillotson Fleming learned about helping those in need when she was a young girl.
“We had parents who were active in organizations that do good work and give back, so it was part of growing up. I remember when I was young, we had a child with special needs join us one holiday,” she says. “It was something you were expected to do, and we found there is a lot of meaning in it.”
Kim’s mother, Carol Hefren Tillotson, says she learned the same lessons from her parents. They supported organizations such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, which her father helped at holiday time by standing on a Pittsburgh street corner and ringing the collection bell.
In addition, “My parents helped people in need,” Carol says. “My mother took care of a friend’s daughter when her friend was hospitalized; my father helped provide a wheelchair for a young girl in my class. They believed in helping their community.”
“My parents helped people in need. They believed in helping their community.”
—Carol Hefren Tillotson
Carol remembers seeing families in poor neighborhoods, or someone who was blind or disabled and feeling deep sympathy and being very thankful for her own circumstances. Her earliest philanthropies were supporting the Butler Mental Health Association and the Spina Bifida Association, especially in helping to provide necessary services and housing.
Carol, a 1954 graduate of Allegheny College, and her late husband, Bill Tillotson, who graduated from Allegheny in 1952 and was a member of the College’s Board of Trustees, felt it was important to share the legacy of philanthropy with their children.
It was a lesson learned well by Kim Fleming, one of the Tillotsons’ three children and now the chairman and chief executive officer of Hefren-Tillotson, Inc. in Pittsburgh.
“If you have supported worthy causes and have found joy and meaning in it, you just want to do it again,” says Kim. “Developing the habit of philanthropy really starts with doing it and having a good experience. It is also important to directly see the benefit of what you have given and the impact it has had on a person or some other tangible benefit.”
Kim, herself now a member of the Allegheny Board of Trustees, and her husband, Curt, generously support the College. “I love the fact that Allegheny is a liberal arts school, and it reaches a really broad group of students from all backgrounds. Students who have financial needs can still attend Allegheny; they gain the full experience that college should be by being actively engaged and learning a broad range of skills. Allegheny fits our criteria for philanthropy very well,” Kim says.
The Flemings’ family legacy continues at Allegheny. Their sons Grant ’11 and Todd ’15 graduated from the College as did Grant’s wife, Courtney Kerr Fleming ’11.
The Flemings also support LiveLikeLou, United Way of Allegheny County, and the American Heart Association, among other nonprofits.
“I love the fact that Allegheny is a liberal arts school, and it reaches a really broad group of students from all backgrounds. Students who have financial needs can still attend Allegheny; they gain the full experience that college should be by being actively engaged and learning a broad range of skills. Allegheny fits our criteria for philanthropy very well”
—Kim Tillotson Fleming
Carol feels it is a privilege to be able to support the arts in Pittsburgh and Butler, as well as special health organizations, topped by LiveLikeLou (ALS) and the Community Health Clinic of Butler County. Associations that support research on diseases like cancer, heart, lung, and diabetes, that have been responsible for the loss of loved ones, are important also, she says.
“Bill said that much of what he was able to achieve, he owed to his time at Allegheny. We both felt very grateful to Allegheny for our experiences there,” Carol says. “It opened up new areas to me, such as sociology, religion, and psychology. I tried to apply a few basic principles from child psychology to raising my own children. I think it helped, because they are all fine young people today. Bill and I shared a desire to thank Allegheny College with our support.”
“My advice on philanthropy,” says Carol, “is to give in whatever way you are able to and for whatever it is you believe in.”
Kim, who recently was honored by the Pittsburgh Pirates Major League Baseball team with the Roberto Clemente Seat 21 Award for community involvement, said she and her husband make philanthropic decisions based on issues and areas of interest of most concern to them. She believes philanthropy and success in life are interwoven. “The people I know who are most successful are always focused outwardly and not inwardly,” she says. “These people have a tendency to help others and be the best they can be.”
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