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Community Story

Sharing the Gift of Learning

What you learn can change everything.

Just ask Dexter Fisher.

This well-known Athens resident had humble beginnings, but education helped him thrive.

“I grew up poor so I know what it’s like to struggle,” Dexter said.

“Fortunately for me, I received an athletic scholarship. I went to college to play football and that helped me get my education,” he explained. “I had no illusions about playing professionally, but I knew if I got my education it could lead to other things — and it did.”

Dexter, who is a donor and board member of the Athens Area Community Foundation, spent over 30 years at the University of Georgia before retiring from his position as Director of Facilities Management. He recently launched a second career last year at Clarke County School District as Chief of Operations.

And now, through the Athens Area Community Foundation, he’s helping the next generation of Athens students. In 2008, Dexter established the Vivian and Mamie Fisher Educational Scholarship Fund in memory of his wife and his mom.

“My mother was really big on education and making sure you do all you can to avail yourself of an education. She was also always willing to give back and help other folks,” he said. “I guess that’s where I learned that from. She made sure I was willing to help other people.

“And my late wife and I were both part of the education process in the local community. When my wife and mom passed away -  the same year - I decided to name a college scholarship fund in their honor for local high school kids.”

The scholarship fund offered a simple way to honor them and support local students.

“To me, the Athens Area Community Foundation was a godsend, to keep my mom and my deceased wife’s names, to keep their legacy, to keep their names relevant for many years to come,” he said. “And also to provide opportunities for our young people.”

But it’s not just his scholarship fund that makes him a fan of the Athens Area Community Foundation.

Dexter said he loves seeing the unique ways the Athens Area Community Foundation makes a difference in the area.

“One thing about the Athens Area Community Foundation is that it’s multi-faceted,” he said. “We actually have a number of different ways that people, if they have the resources, can help the community. And the Athens Area Community Foundation can help them develop that particular resource and, hopefully, help our community grow.”

Dexter credits the growth that has happened to a strong core of committed people.

“It takes a lot of commitment from a lot of different people to make this community foundation thrive and be the success it has been. That’s a tribute to [Athens Area Community Foundation President and CEO] Sarah [McKinney] and the people who have been involved with our board. We have an active board,” he said. “We’re still a young foundation, but over the years, we’ve raised millions and millions of dollars to help this community. It says a lot about all the people involved.”

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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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