It was a random act of channel surfing that prompted Mark Kruzan to take action.
Bloomington's mayor from 2004 to 2016, Kruzan had long imagined starting an endowment with the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County. What stopped him, he says, was feeling "paralyzed" by a combination of intimidation - he didn't think he could afford it - and indecision about what type of initiative to support. One evening, though, he happened upon a program on the local Community Access Television Service that convinced him to get started.
The show featured local donors who had created endowments with the foundation that can be built over five years. John Hurlow, a local financial advisor, was speaking when Kruzan landed on the channel.
"John was saying that each year he and his children would sit down together to decide how to use the funds from their endowment," Kruzan recalls. "I thought, 'If this is something kids can be doing with their father, then surely I ought to be able to do it.'"
He hadn't realized until then that $20,000 was enough to start an endowment, and that funds could be put to slightly different purposes each year. "When I realized how flexible the foundation was," he says, "I went right in to talk to them."
Kruzan told the Community Foundation about a child he'd met through the Girls, Inc. program, who he later learned was unable to afford summer camp. He had funded her camp enrollment, anonymously, and realized in doing so that just a couple hundred dollars were giving her an unforgettable experience.
He also talked about his admiration for the Monroe County Humane Association, from which he has adopted two dogs. "I just think of what a difference having dogs in my life has made," he says. "I've become more joyful, more reflective. And, as a politician, I appreciate having at least somebody who has unconditional love for me."