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Local

Face Time with … Sally Stevens

Danielle Guerra - dguerra@shawmedia.com
Philanthropist Sally Stevens stands in front of the DeKalb County Community Foundation building in Sycamore on Friday, Feb. 5, 2016. Stevens was born in DeKalb, was raised in Sycamore, and now resides at Oak Crest in DeKalb. She served as secretary for six NIU presidents, working over 32 years for the university. Stevens purchased a life insurance policy with the DeKalb County Community Foundation as the beneficiary, setting the foundation to receive a million dollars when she passes away. The DCCF will then fulfill yearly grants of $45,000-$50,000 off of the interest to the community.
Danielle Guerra - dguerra@shawmedia.com Philanthropist Sally Stevens stands in front of the DeKalb County Community Foundation building in Sycamore on Friday, Feb. 5, 2016. Stevens was born in DeKalb, was raised in Sycamore, and now resides at Oak Crest in DeKalb. She served as secretary for six NIU presidents, working over 32 years for the university. Stevens purchased a life insurance policy with the DeKalb County Community Foundation as the beneficiary, setting the foundation to receive a million dollars when she passes away. The DCCF will then fulfill yearly grants of $45,000-$50,000 off of the interest to the community.

Local resident Sally Stevens has given a gift to an area nonprofit that will keep giving well beyond her lifetime.

The DeKalb County Community Foundation recently announced that the former Northern Illinois University employee purchased a $1 million insurance policy and named the foundation as the beneficiary. Stevens, 85, retired from NIU in 1996 after working there for 32 years as secretary to the university president. She said the gift honors the organization, community and interests most dear to her.

Rhonda Gillespie: What made you want to purchase the insurance policy and donate it to the foundation?

Sally Stevens: This is my lifetime home. I was born in DeKalb and raised in Sycamore. I’m single, and I don’t have children to leave anything to. I’ve tried to do donations and contributions along the way to things that are near and dear to my heart. I thought, “Well, I’ve given to NIU where I worked for 32 years. I’ve given to the hospital, I’ve given to my church, and other things like that. But I hadn’t given anything very broad across DeKalb and Sycamore.”

I thought, really about the only way I could do anything that was a sizable contribution would be maybe to leave an insurance policy. I purchased the insurance policy and gave it to the DeKalb County Community Foundation. I pay the premiums every year. When I die, it’ll leave $1 million to the foundation. Then the interest on that $1 million every year will leave a very, very sizable interest that they can distribute in any way. The members of the DeKalb County Community Foundation executive board have always been people you can trust. So, I didn’t really put any specifications on what they do with the money when I’m gone. I want them to use their good judgment. They don’t need to give it to DeKalb or Sycamore. It can go any place in the county.

RG: How did you get connected with the DeKalb County Community Foundation?

SS: It was started by Charlie and Mary Roberts of DeKalb. I knew Mary Roberts when her parents were alive. In fact, she only lived about a block away from where I grew up. Even though she is a couple of years older than I am, we played together. So I’ve known the Roberts family since I was a little girl. When they made the original contribution and started the DeKalb County Community Foundation, knowing them as I did, I was really proud of what they had done. As I grew older and wanted to do a philanthropic thing for the community, I just decided it’s already there, all I have to do is be a part of that.

RG: How do you feel about knowing that your generosity could be of help to others for quite some time?

SS: It’ll go on forever after I’m gone. The policy is there, it will leave that $1 million – which they will invest. It will always be Sally Stevens’ donation. I’m very proud of it. I’m glad that I was able to do it. I couldn’t just write a check for $1 million. But this way, through an insurance policy, I can do it.

RG: The money to the foundation is undesignated. Is there anything, in particular, that you would like to see benefit?

SS: I have talked to Dan Templan, who’s the director of the foundation, and he knows some of my interests. He knows that I like music. I’m a big proponent of NIU music, and those kinds of things. And I’m also a No. 1 Huskie fan of football and basketball. And if there were something at the university, even though I’ve already given a great deal to the university, it could still go there. I love the city of Sycamore and DeKalb. I really have put a lot of trust in the designation that the executive board might do.

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