A Family Matter: The Mathias Family + the Dublin Community Foundation
The Dublin Community Foundation is run by an all-volunteer board, the members of which share a common goal of connecting community generosity with community needs. Collectively, the trustees’ diverse skill set, depth of experience and commitment to community combine to create a leadership organization that is dedicated, strategic and visionary. And in one particular instance, involvement with the Foundation has become a family affair.
Marlen Mathias and her son, Neil Mathias, share more than a career in real estate with The Mathias Team, they also share a passion for and commitment to the Dublin community and, specifically, the Dublin Community Foundation. With well over a decade of combined service to the Foundation, the Mathias name has become synonymous with the work of the Foundation and serving within the Dublin community.
We recently had the opportunity to talk with Marlen and Neil about their service to the community and the Foundation, what spurred them to become involved, and their advice to others who may be looking for ways to become involved.
How did you get involved with the Dublin Community Foundation?
Marlen: I initially got involved with the Foundation as a representative of the Dublin Women’s Philanthropic Club in which I have been a member since 1991 to present.
Neil: Mom had been involved for a while, beginning as a volunteer board member, and then moving on to become Board President. She has always been involved with different volunteer opportunities and always likes to roll up her sleeves and make things happen. As she stepped off of the Board after years of service, it seemed like a good time for me to get involved. She and another board member encouraged me to join; the Foundation is a passion of hers and I think she wanted to stay connected and wanted me to take that torch and run with it. I held off at first because my kids were younger, but now that they are older I have more time to be involved.
Why the Dublin Community Foundation?
Marlen: Over the 30 years that I have lived in Dublin, I have volunteered with many groups and activities and for the City of Dublin. The Dublin Community Foundation, however, has the ability to help the overall community through special events and through the nonprofit organizations they help either financially or in advisory roles. This more far-reaching approach appealed to me.
Neil: I volunteer for a number of other organizations, most of which have a church connection. The Foundation is an organization that is based in our community where we live and work. I wanted to give back to our community and the benefit of working with the Foundation is that we are not narrowly focused on one particular need or nonprofit – we are able to serve the overall needs of the Dublin community. Dublin is home and being able to help people in the community is what drove me to the Foundation.
Do you have a favorite project?
Marlen: I was Chairperson of the Foundation’s Grants Committee for several years. This consisted of soliciting, selecting and scheduling the grant requests from various organizations. I enjoyed that very much. I continue to be in contact with several of the nonprofits that the Foundation helped get started. It is very rewarding to see how these charities have made such a difference to so many people. KidSmiles and TEDXInovationDr being two of my favorites but there were many.
Neil: Most recently, the gift back to the teachers at the end of 2020 – it was a way to say thank you to them for their service to our kids especially in light of how much harder everything was during the pandemic. We started with one gift and then were able to leverage that into other donations that we used to let Dublin teachers and staff know that they are special and appreciated. We also supported local businesses by buying gift cards for the school teachers and staff from area businesses. It was a really cool way that as a community foundation we were able to respond quickly to something and really touch people.
I also am proud of the Foundation’s involvement in supporting the new Dublin library. It is such a great asset to the community, and to be able to give to that, and help make that happen really allowed us to impact the community at large.
What is your message to fellow Dublin businesses and residents who may be considering supporting the Foundation?
Marlen: That the Dublin Community Foundation is an organization made up of volunteers from various backgrounds who have a pulse on the needs of everyday citizens in Dublin. They have the means and backgrounds to get things done to make a difference in the lives of all Dublin residents. They are an excellent organization with whom you can volunteer or invest knowing the money will be used to benefit Dublin residents.
Neil: Most people – including me before I really got involved – look at Dublin as a fairly affluent community, without a lot of needs. The reality is that there are a significant number of people and students on food assistance. I see the cars lined up on food pickup night at the Dublin Food Pantry on my way home from work.
It is easy to assume that everyone has what they need, but there is an overwhelming number of people who do not. The Foundation provides the opportunity to residents and local businesses to support the community – to meet the needs of our neighbors, and we know that there are a lot of needs.
So, is there another generation of the Mathias family that we can expect to see involved with the Foundation in the future?
Neil: I guess I really hadn’t thought about that until now. Someday I would love for that to be the case. My son is 6 and my daughter is 4, so we are in the early stages of building that mindset but I think we will get there.
I have been in Dublin for most of my life – since 1990 – it is home and a community for me. It is important to me that I am able to help grow something. Mom helped to really get the Foundation started, I like knowing that I am helping to grow it and maybe in 30 years my kids will run with it.