Mike and Nancy Sandman have been living — and giving — in Brookline for 45 years. They first connected with the Brookline Friendly Society in 1978, the year they were married. Based on his involvement in a related social service program, Mike was invited to help set up a new local charity under the Brookline Friendly Society called the Brookline Community Fund. Soon after, he joined the board. (Later, these merged initiatives would be renamed the Brookline Community Foundation.) “There was no organization in Brookline that had money to give for community purposes,” Mike recalls. It felt like important work.

The Sandmans have been impressed by how the Brookline Community Foundation has evolved over time, deepening its commitment to important, often invisible, community needs. “The Foundation has gotten better and better at unearthing those needs,” Mike says, “and explaining to the community at large what the demographics of Brookline really look like.” In addition to the Foundation’s public reports and the critical start-up support for programs like Steps to Success and the Brookline Teen Center, the Sandmans appreciate how it has brokered important philanthropic agreements behind the scenes, like The Country Club’s founding gift to the Brookline Youth Fund. “It’s an illustration of what a community foundation can do,” Mike says, “because it is non political.”

The Brookline Community Foundation remains one of three local organizations the Sandmans support regularly. A few years ago, they cemented that support with a legacy gift from their estate. “It’s an important thing to do for the community that has been good to us,” Mike says. Nancy adds, “We want to be part of making sure that the members of the community get a fair shake.”