Donor Spotlight: Debbie Lemon

Debbie Lemon wanted her planned gift with the Community Foundation to reflect her history and connection to Monroe County. Debbie’s ties to this community have deep roots spanning multiple generations. She explains, “My cousin, Tom Lemon, was the mayor of Bloomington for several years. After World War II, we had an influx of students to our town and started having water issues, which is when Lake Lemon was created.”

Debbie grew up on the southwest side of town, where she attended high school while her parents owned a retail store. Debbie gratefully recalls this “idyllic life.”

She attended Indiana University Bloomington to study Marketing and Entrepreneurship, a new field for her class. After graduating, Debbie worked in healthcare sales in Chicago and Seattle for a few years before moving to Indianapolis. Debbie moved back to Bloomington in 1985 to be closer to family and because she loved the town. She had a long career in the community, culminating in her role as Secretary of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University from 2014 to 2021 before retiring.

As Debbie resettled in the community, she became more aware of the many charitable efforts – and she got involved. “When I came back to Bloomington, many of the people I used to know had moved away. I joined Leadership Bloomington, where I began networking and getting to know more organizations. I became involved in the hospital, Hospital Board of Directors, Local Council of Women, Hospital Foundation Board, and Parks Foundation Board, amongst others. Now, I am on the board of the Bloomington Health Foundation. Through this, I have seen the different community needs and focused my philanthropic efforts.”

Her firsthand experience witnessing the challenges of nonprofits led Debbie to create an unrestricted endowment at the Community Foundation in her estate plan. This permanent endowment, the Debbie Lemon Community Fund, will provide flexible grant funds to support community needs in perpetuity. The Debbie Lemon Community Fund will continue Debbie’s legacy of service and giving as it supports Monroe County’s changing needs. 

Debbie continues, “Serving on these boards and learning about their operating expenses, the help they need, and overhead made me passionate about unrestricted funds. Sometimes organizations have a specific focus, but they are often just trying to keep their doors open.” Debbie adds, “When the pandemic happened, no one had a line item in their budget that said ‘pandemic.’ Challenges and changes come from nowhere, but unrestricted funds keep everyone flexible and adept at handling these weighty issues.” The Community Foundation was the ideal place for Debbie to leave her gift because she knows her funds will be cared for, and it will ensure this place she loves will thrive, now and forever. “The Community Foundation makes me feel like this is the right place for my giving to happen because it will be done right, it will be done responsibly, and we will know the outcome,” she said. “When this money comes from my planned gift, I hope it will have a positive community spirit.” 

By leaving a legacy gift with the Community Foundation, Debbie can support the various organizations she has been connected to while adapting to the growth and needs they experience over time. Debbie says, “For my will, I know the institutions I am focusing the funds towards and leave them unrestricted, which gives the organizations a little more flexibility over the years.” 

 As both a volunteer and donor, Debbie has experienced the Community Foundation’s impact and shares in the vision for local, long-term support. “The Community Foundation covers a multitude of broad areas and covers needs that could be chronic or even acute,” she said. “The Community Foundation looks into the needs here and now, as well as the future. I appreciate that the Community Foundation can address things at a moment’s notice to reach community needs.”

Monroe County has become a better place thanks to Debbie’s many contributions, which will continue forever thanks to her thoughtful, planned gift. “This is my hometown,” Debbie shares, “I feel such a loyalty and a commitment to making it better. What’s important to me is that Bloomington keeps its beauty and continues to develop to be a place with great jobs for a growing workforce and that we support those gaps for the services people need. I have always felt very strongly about local giving. You can see the impact of your giving, give feedback, and see tangible assets.”