Joe and Kathy Jacobi: A Lifetime Dedicated to Giving

In addition to being Legacy Society members at the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana, Dr. Joe (right) and Kathy Jacobi volunteer their time at WaterStep, a nonprofit in Louisville focused on providing clean water to third-world countries and disaster areas.

“It was kind of this new creature.”

When Dr. Joe Jacobi was introduced to the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana at its inception in 1991, he was cautiously optimistic about what a charitable organization like it could mean for this area. After all, he was no stranger to philanthropy and spent much of his life helping others – both in his community and abroad – and he could envision the impact of a local, permanent philanthropic resource right here in Southern Indiana.

“I was familiar with the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana from the very beginning. A number of people in the Jeffersonville Rotary Club, including (former CEO) Dale Orem, were involved, and I began to see how it could be a huge asset in the community – something we had never had before,” Dr. Joe said. “We began to see more and more how the Foundation worked, and the ideas behind it – which were new concepts for this area. We got to visit some of the nonprofits that I had no idea were doing the incredible work they were doing in the community. But for us, we started our involvement with simply putting time in and volunteering.”

Early on, Dr. Joe became involved with the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana, reviewing applications on both the Scholarship and Community Grants Committees, as well as acting on the Community Advisory Board. Professionally, Dr. Joe also led a successful solo dental practice in Jeffersonville that spanned nearly four decades.

In 1995, Dr. Joe met Kathy, whom he would marry in 2002. The couple moved to Kentucky, where Kathy worked for years as the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Community Foundation of Louisville, and later as President of the Felix E. Martin, Jr. Foundation in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, while Dr. Joe continued his practice in Southern Indiana.

After retiring from dentistry in 2011, Dr. Joe transitioned into volunteer medical mission work, traveling to 13 countries through Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, India, and the Philippines with Remote Area Medical to provide free dental pop-up clinics. Today, the couple is still involved with WaterStep, a local nonprofit whose mission is to provide safe water to communities in developing countries, with Dr. Joe acting as the organization’s Volunteer Director of Manufacturing since 2013.

Ultimately, the pair decided to take the next step in their financial involvement with the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana. Dr. Joe and Kathy made plans to arrange for a Legacy gift through their estate plans to the Foundation’s Community Impact Fund. They knew this would be a way to assure they would make a final gift to be used for the greatest needs and highest priorities of the community that was so instrumental in their life.

“In the last 30 years with the leadership that has come through – particularly with Linda Speed in the past 10 years – the Foundation has really established itself as an anchor point in the community. We are very comfortable with the stability and the function of the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana,” Dr. Joe said. “That comfort came full circle in the later years of our relationship with the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana. We were able to start a very simple, easy-to-establish Donor Advised Fund, which allowed us to support several community projects with not only the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana, but with other community nonprofits that have meaning and importance to us, personally.”

Even though the Jacobis currently live and work (part-time) in Louisville, they were drawn to the Sunny Side of the Ohio River for their philanthropy. Not only had Dr. Joe established himself as a leader in Southern Indiana, but it allowed him to return to his roots and give for the benefit of his community.

“Joe is born and bred Southern Indiana. He had his dental practice there in Jeff for more than 35 years. It was kind of a huge deal when he moved (to Louisville) from Southern Indiana,” Kathy joked. “But Joe is the biggest cheerleader for Southern Indiana that exists, certainly for one that doesn’t live over there. His roots, his career, and his love is very much in Southern Indiana.”

Ultimately, the Jacobis decided that leaving a Legacy gift at the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana would be one of their final gifts to a nonprofit that was so instrumental in their life.

“Working in a community foundation field for 24 years, I really believe in the model and mission of Community Foundations, which is to carry on after you’re no longer here. And that’s a very important thing to both of us – to leave funds that not only can benefit the nonprofits you are intimately involved with while you are alive, but to also provide funds for the flexibility of the changing needs of the future,” Kathy said. “The needs of Southern Indiana are so different now than when the Foundation started in the 90s, and without the flexibility of unrestricted funds at the Foundations, there is no clear way to address that quickly. So ultimately, I think a Legacy gift is even more important than lifetime gifts.”

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