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Making a Difference, One Gift at a Time

Through their family fund at the Athens Area Community Foundation, John and Teresa McLean have connected with a medley of projects — both near and far.

They’ve fostered baby elephants in Africa.

They’ve supported educational opportunities for local immigrants.

They’ve helped with a new van for the Athens Boys & Girls Club.

Through their family fund at the Athens Area Community Foundation, John and Teresa McLean have connected with a medley of projects — both near and far.

“Our efforts are kind of everywhere based on what’s near and dear to our hearts — anything from helping small children and immigrants here in Athens, Georgia, to wild animals in wild places in other parts of the world,” Teresa McLean said. “It just depends on where the need is.”

The McLeans first heard about Athens Area Community Foundation through friends.

“We talked with them about how they were managing their own philanthropic efforts, and it just seemed like a good fit for us,” Teresa said.

That prompted them to set up the McLean Family Foundation about two years ago — a mechanism that simplifies their giving.

“What’s nice about the Athens Area Community Foundation is that you can have everything in one place, and you can put your money in at any time,” she explained. “Before, we were always trying to play catch up by the end of the calendar year. This takes the pressure off of  year-end giving. Now, it rolls over until you know what you want to do with it.”

They also love the support they’ve received from Athens Area Community Foundation President and CEO Sarah McKinney.

“She is a powerhouse. She is an amazing, dynamic person full of love and giving and hope. She’s so much what sold us on this,” Teresa said. “Her drive and dedication to philanthropy and this community really sealed the deal for us.”

She’s also helped them connect with a variety of new causes.

“Sarah is really wonderful about bringing the local community needs to your attention,” Teresa added. “I can get focused on things that I’m interested in. But then, when needs arise that we may not be aware of, she puts that out there. And it’s never any pressure.”

When they’re not working or working with local nonprofits, the McLeans love to travel. One by-product of their family travel to Africa and other places? A better understanding of what giving means.

“I think it helps you realize how important philanthropy is. We are very blessed,” added Teresa.

No matter how busy life gets, finding ways to give back is always a high priority for this Athens couple.

“It’s just a big part of who we are,” Teresa said. “We’ve had success, probably more than what we thought, and we take that very seriously.  We want to help others achieve that in some way, shape, or form. It’s so important to give back what’s been so generously given to us.”


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The Athens Area Community Foundation is a public grantmaking foundation that builds community by encouraging long term giving through funds created by caring donors.

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