George Juetten and his wife, Sondra, inspire a community foundation and future giving.
George Juetten spent his childhood among family and friends in Rhinelander. As an adult, he built a successful financial career and was looking to give back to the community that helped him get his start.
“We were coming to the end of a good year and it was time to give back to Rhinelander,” he explains. The Juettens went online and were surprised to see there wasn’t a community foundation for Rhinelander. It didn’t exist.
When the Juettens discovered there had been attempts to establish a community foundation that had not come to fruition, they decided to do something. Partnering with local leaders, George instigated the round up of a small group of people who were passionate about strengthening Rhinelander for the future. The Rhinelander Community Foundation began to take shape.
George had seen that if you look into the most successful communities, you will find they have something like this–whether it’s for locals to give money to, or people like George who grew up in the community. George attributes much of his career success (which included 25 years with Price Waterhouse and serving as CFO for two Fortune 500 Companies) to the competitive drive he developed in athletics at Rhinelander High School. “We benefitted from growing up in Rhinelander with the good schools, the great teachers, the good people, the lifestyle. And then, you go away, and maybe you do fairly well. You’d like to be able to give something back. We needed that vehicle to make it easy for people to give money back,” he says.
While there are opportunities for people to give directly to a project, a community foundation is different. “If somebody says ‘I want to thank Rhinelander’ or ‘I’d like to share my success with them’, this is a vehicle that makes it easy for them to put the community in their will, write a check, or contribute other assets–and benefit the community,” George explains. With an established community foundation overseen by a board of concerned citizens, donors can feel comfortable their donation will be used for the greatest needs in the community.
George reflected after attending the 2016 Scholarship Ceremony at Rhinelander High School. “I saw those high school seniors up on the stage, and what I saw were good, smart kids with potential. Maybe some of those are your future leaders after they get an education. And, we have to make them want to come back here. There has to be a reason for them to come back.”
George and Sondra became the first donors to join the John Curran Society for the 1870 Founders’ Circle Campaign. As the Juettens continue their journey with the Rhinelander Community Foundation, they hope their gift will inspire others. The Rhinelander Community Foundation is rooted now, and George expects it will do good things. “Success begets success,” he says.