For Liz and Gary Fisch, it all comes back to the Y.
It started when Gary was a young teen. His friends had left for summer camp, leaving the out-of-shape boy without his usual pals. So Gary’s parents joined the Highland Park Y to give him a place to go. Gary rode his bike to the Y every day and took to swimming which, over the course of the summer, turned him into a physically fit and far more confident young man.
“I was a totally different person,” he said.
That summer was transformative for Gary, but it was just the first time the Y would shape his life.
Several years later, Gary joined a youth group at the Y through which he met Liz. Their first date was Liz’s seventeenth birthday, which gets a laugh from the couple, now married 37 years.
Liz and Gary have stayed involved with the Y over the years and are now active at the Madison Area YMCA where Gary served on the Board for nine years. It was at the Madison Y where Gary got to know Tom Uhlman, who chaired the Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees at the time.
Creating a Fund at the Community Foundation
Tom introduced Gary to the Community Foundation where Gary and Liz not only created the Fisch Family Fund, but Gary also joined the Board. Becoming involved with the Community Foundation was, for Gary and Liz, an extension of their shared philanthropic philosophy.
“We always taught our children that good begets good,” said Liz. “Giving back is just the right thing to do.”
Through the Fisch Family Fund, Liz and Gary have increased their charitable giving while simplifying the process. Rather than write one-off checks to various organizations, the family is now more intentional about their giving – often thinking ahead about larger-scale gifts.
“We started out with zero,” said Gary. “Now that we have something, it’s our privilege as well as our obligation to the community to give back.”
The Madison Area YMCA Capital Campaign
As the Fisch Family’s philanthropy has become more focused and intentional, Liz and Gary have reflected on the types of people and places that have provided so much for their own family. Once again, it came back to the Y, as they made their largest philanthropic contribution yet: a $100,000 grant to the Madison Area YMCA to support a major renovation including a new pool.
The new pool will be significantly larger than the existing pool, allowing the Y to expand its services as well as accommodate competitions. The old pool will become a “warm water” pool, suitable for preschool swim lessons, therapeutic aquatic programs, and family recreation.
Now serving as co-chairs of the Madison Area YMCA’s Capital Campaign, Liz and Gary are excited about the opportunity to leverage their gift for even wider community support.
“This just feels right,” said Gary. “Swimming is a sport that is accessible and meant for everyone.”
And best of all, even the Fisch kids are involved in giving back, through volunteering in their own communities. They’re very supportive of their parents’ philanthropy.
“Going forward,” said Liz, “they’ll be involved in the decision-making for this fund, so that we can all enjoy and appreciate giving back – together.”