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The Read Family Fund

Roger and Judy Read
Roger and Judy Read

Judy Read's eyes lit up when she talked about meeting her husband, Roger, more than a half century ago.

"We almost didn't meet," she said. Both attended King School and graduated from Buchtel High School. Since they were a grade apart, the couple didn't cross paths until college at the University of Akron, an encounter that ultimately led to their marriage in 1963. 

While it took some time for the Reads to connect, it took them nearly no time to make a lasting impact in their community. "Team Read," as their family and friends refer to them, has received countless awards for philanthropy and has served in leadership roles on the boards of the University of Akron Foundation, FirstMerit Bank, B.W. Rogers Company, the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, United Way's Women's Initiative Council, Akron League of Women Voters, and Akron Community Foundation, which awarded Roger its Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award in 2002. 

The couple felt a responsibility to "give back to the community that (had) given them so much," so in 1986 they started the Read Family Fund of Akron Community Foundation. It allows them to set aside and grow their charitable dollars today so their legacy can live on beyond their lifetime. 

One of the main advantages of the fund is it enables them to designate money ahead of time for causes they give to consistently. "With our donor-advised fund, money for charitable purposes is already set aside," Roger explained. The fund also allows them to respond quickly to community needs as they arise. Causes supported by their fund include the Boys' and Girls' Club, Akron Urban League, Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank and Project Grad, a group acclaimed for its work with students at Buchtel High School, the couple's alma mater. 

Community foundation staff members also help the couple by connecting them with interesting new programs that match their charitable interests. "We know if ACF presents a possible charitable donation (to us), it has been researched. We know the charity is viable and in need of the money," Judy explained, adding that it makes the grant-making process "very easy" for them. 

Roger, the former president and chief executive officer of Harwick Chemical Corp., appreciates the back-end work done on their fund's behalf. "We're in a situation where we're not having to manage money directly and not having any administrative burden. It's all done for us by the foundation," he said, adding the fund's administrative costs are "much lower than those of other foundations ACF's size or even larger." 

In the end, though, it's not merely the financial advantages that keep them giving to – and through – their donor-advised fund. 

"The idea of giving in itself is wonderful: seeing the joy of the faces of those children down at Boys' and Girls' Club, seeing the beautiful facility at the (Akron) Urban League and the work of the food bank, being able to be a part of those things that have contributed so much to making our community a better place to live," Judy explained. "It's the joy of giving while you're living," Roger added. 

Judy passed away in May 2016, leaving a gaping hole in the community's philanthropic landscape. However, Roger is committed to carrying on her charitable legacy through Akron Community Foundation, an organization that so fully represents the couple's hometown. 

"To be born, to be raised, to be educated, to meet Judy, to have my career, I didn't need to go elsewhere," Roger said.

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