Donor Spotlight: Wes and Carol Daniels

To Wes and Carol Daniels, Santa Rosa is more than just a place to live, and the LBC is more than just an arts and entertainment center. Together, the two places have given them the chance to go beyond just residing in the community where they live. They have allowed the Daniels family to create the community they want to live in.

Wes Daniels is a fifth generation Santa Rosan on his father’s side. Carol grew up in Sonoma County and moved to Santa Rosa when she was in middle school. They met in high school, married, and, in 1988, Wes joined the family business, Daniels Chapel of the Roses Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc. The business has been part of the Santa Rosa community since 1875 and in the Daniels’ family since the 1940s. It is the kind of local business that interacts with almost everyone in town at some point, a dynamic that seems to have shaped the Daniels’ family attitude about compassion and care for your whole community. Wes and Carol have made community – and support for the nonprofits that improve it – a way of life.

The Daniels’ family has been connected to the LBC for a long time, beginning with Wes’ uncle, Howard (Buster) Dalton, who served on the Board from 2001 to 2008. His mother, Patsy Daniels, served on the board from 2003 to 2012, and today, Wes is going into his third year as a Board member. “When I was younger, I used to think it was great to have my mother on LBC’s Board of Directors because I could hit her up for tickets,” said Wes. “As a family, we went to concerts here, and I even attended the Art of Dessert fundraising gala with my mother,” he said. “Our whole family still enjoys going to events at the LBC and to see the shows. I also love coming to the pre-performance donor Clubs just to be in community with other patrons who are excited about the performance. I feel fortunate to serve on the Board and to bring my history in Sonoma County and my insight as a local business to help the LBC thrive for the benefit of this community.”

“We also are grateful for how much arts enrichment the LBC brings to Sonoma County,” said Carol. “Their education programs returned critical, life-affirming arts and arts education to the schools after budget cuts reduced or eliminated them. The LBC makes it possible for classrooms to see live performances at the theater. They have a free musical instrument lending library serving five surrounding counties to make sure that not one kid who wants to be in the school band gets left out.”

“They have after school music and dance programs and community events that celebrate the different cultures here,” she added. “That enrichment together with the hub of community activity at the LBC – from free outdoor live concerts in the summer to the farmer’s market on weekends, and accessible rentals spaces for weddings, life celebrations, and family reunions — all make it possible for all of us to share in the stories and traditions of our families and our neighbors’ families.”

“The LBC is Sonoma County’s leading arts center, making arts enrichment in all of its forms available for all – here and in the community,” agreed Wes. “Yet, as my mother taught us, always to leave a place better than how you found it, and that extends to everything you do in life. And that’s why we wanted to become legacy donors of the LBC.”

“We believe responsibility comes with the pleasure and pride you can have in a community asset like the LBC,” added Carol. “If you truly believe the community would suffer without the LBC making the arts accessible and affordable, without world-class live performances that we can enjoy right here in our county, then there has to be a sense of ownership in that community treasure.”

“The world continues to change around us,” she added. “If you want the things that work well and work for the benefit of all to stick around, to thrive by reaching more people, you must promote and support them. And you have to keep trying to bring others into the fold. The LBC makes it possible for anyone to have a role – from attending events to making a donation, becoming a member, and creating a legacy gift. In fact, the LBC can help you personalize your legacy gift to fit your budget.”

As legacy donors, Wes and Carol see their long-term gift as a way of stewarding a future that can be unpredictable for many people. “The families we serve in our business have allowed us to be part of the community and to benefit others,” said Wes. “We want our legacy to take care of our kids and our grandkids, of course, but what about their communities? What about the generations beyond them? Their neighbors and community? Who’s going to plan for them? Hopefully lots of people will, but we can too.”

Another way the Daniels have planned for Sonoma County’s wellbeing is by sponsoring the new Arts Educator of the Year Award, which is presented by the LBC and Creative Sonoma.  “We want to honor the arts teachers who touch our lives in some of the deepest and most transformative ways, by inspiring us, by giving us different ways to use our voices, and by honoring the differences that make us special as individuals.”

“We have friends from high school who now are actors and musicians, who are in dance, in a cappella groups, and in chamber orchestras,” said Wes. “Who helped them find and develop those gifts? Even if we don’t have careers in the arts, arts educators help us discover our self-confidence and self-beliefs that pave our way forward. Carol and I wanted to do something that recognizes art teachers whose influence helps shape our social, academic, and personal development so that we can show up as successful adults and good citizens. Whose influence often goes unmeasured and unrecognized.”

“Even though we, personally, are not in the arts, we appreciate and enjoy them, which continues to foster our interests not just in the arts, but also in other cultural areas that shape our community,” said Carol. “Supporting service organizations, getting involved in the kids’ schools, and being part of the LBC as legacy donors so that it can keep making arts enrichment affordable and accessible to the greater population — it’s how we all can make a difference in Sonoma County.”

“My mom instilled in us the need to serve, to volunteer, to be a part of something beyond self-interests,” shared Wes. “Back in the ‘90s, she was the President of Soroptimists International. She traveled the world and helped more people than any of us could count or know. At her funeral this last October, I read this quote: “There’s no greater gift a person can give than to plant a tree, knowing they will never sit in its shade. By being legacy donors, our contributions to the community we love won’t end when we do. When we are gone, we know that 50 years and more after we die, our gift will positively affect somebody.

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