Donor Story: Mike and Maureen Merrill

Maureen and Mike Merrill’s LBC story starts the day they first met. Right here at the LBC!

In 1982, Maureen owned a health club, which held a fundraiser for Soroptimists International, an organization she championed. Mike attended as a representative of the Rotary Club, which he had served devoutly for years. The event, held in LBC’s lobby, involved a physical fitness contest, and Mike and Maureen were on opposite teams. Through charity and good fun, a friendship started. One thing led to another, and eventually these two service-oriented people became their own team and got married in 1984. In early 1990, they came full circle back to the LBC, where they became members to perpetuate the legacy of joy and service that the LBC brings to their community.

Mike and Maureen have lived in Sonoma County most of their adult lives. Mike moved here in 1972 to start a law practice with a fellow JAG officer and friend from law school. Maureen came here in 1976 for a position on the administrative side of a furniture store. “There’s a great sense of community and belonging that has continued to keep us here, both separately and then together,” Maureen said.

Maureen and Mike were among the first donors to LBC’s Benefactor’s Circle because, they explained, a sense of belonging doesn’t just happen to a community. It is created by getting involved and giving back, forming alliances and friendships with other people who are committed to the community. Mike and Maureen have supported other service organizations, including veterans’ organizations, The Humane Society, and Rotary. Maureen was elected to the first Town Council of Windsor after helping to lead the incorporation campaign. “When your central arts and entertainment institution is a community-based nonprofit, there’s a role for all of us to be involved in its mission,” said Maureen. “Whether it’s as a patron, a volunteer, or a contributor. Whether through membership, a legacy gift, or a trust.”

To Mike, being a donor means also feeling appreciated for your involvement. “Once you’re in, no matter what level, you become part of the LBC family,” he said. “I mean, everyone involved is considered an integral contributor. If you walk into the volunteer appreciation dinner, for example, you can’t tell the volunteers from the board members. Same with the pre-performance clubs for members and donor appreciation events. Everyone is mingling, conversing, and laughing together.”

“This is leadership,” said Maureen. “This kind of morale and spirit of belonging happens because LBC leaders build it into the culture of the organization.”

“Make sure this effort continues”

“For me, the most significant benefit of becoming a member of the LBC is knowing the organization is constantly reaching out to our broad community to improve lives; I want to make sure this effort continues,” said Mike. “There always will be people who have easy access to the arts and others who don’t. LBC bridges that gap, always reaching further into the community to create equal opportunity for enrichment, education, and the sheer joy of entertainment,” he said.

“Oversight that inspires our trust”

Maureen and Mike continue to support the LBC with peace of mind and confidence that their annual gifts, and now a promised legacy gift, are in good hands, in particular, because LBC makes fiscal accountability part of its charter. “LBC’s leadership reflects some of the best minds of strong character and community values,” Maureen said. “They employ a level of oversight that inspires our trust. The LBC’s sense of accountability, transparency, and professionalism among its staff, the CEO, and the board makes is second to none.”

Mike attests that, as former members of the Board and now members of LBC’s Honorary Advisory Council, they see
detailed reports, not just on the facility’s needs, but on the importance of decisions, such as how LBC deals with various issues that come up, and the quality of partnerships forged. “We have highly qualified people on our LBC Board to oversee policy and the wellbeing of the organization that we are supporting,” he said.

“We all become better”

With their continuing support secured, Mike and Maureen truly relish the rewards of their LBC engagement. “To perpetuate a vital lifeforce to our community; to be immersed in something that guarantees joy and enrichment to people of all ages. To have it so close by and accessible. To be able to drive in and park easily. There are virtually no barriers to the community that can be found here,” said Mike. “We need the LBC here, continuing to nourish our lives.”

“It’s difficult to measure the joy and wellbeing LBC brings to our community,” said Maureen. “When people share the
uplifting experience of creativity, of stimulating ideas, of human accomplishment and spirit, they gain greater confidence and goodwill that multiplies through the community. In other words, everyone leaves a performance feeling grateful and often inspired, which eventually touches everyone they encounter.”

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