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Bloom Where You're Planted: Will and Lynette Raap

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Lynette Raap recalls that when she worked at Gardener’s Supply, the company her husband Will founded in 1983, her boss would tell her, “We have to make money so the business can give it away.” Long before corporate social responsibility, Will built Gardener’s Supply on the concept that businesses can be profitable and have a social impact, an idea that carried over into his and Lynette’s charitable giving. “Philanthropy is not a binary thing—it’s a process of finding ways within the economic structures in which we operate to make an impact on the issue areas you care about,” says Will. “What I appreciate about the Community Foundation is that it really helps us carry out this process efficiently, intelligently, and with good documentation and memory.”

In 2019, Will and Lynette made the decision to begin working with the Community Foundation after years of giving to the Intervale Center and The Lake Champlain Waldorf School—organizations they helped found—as well as an array of education, farming, and environmental causes. “We’re not ambivalent donors; we start with what we know, but we like to add on,” mentions Will. “The Foundation keeps an open mind to where needs are greatest then facilitates funding in those areas like the Food and Farm Initiative and Vermont Mission Investing—this is valuable, and it makes philanthropy a lot easier than it was.” Lynette adds, “Vermont centric is also pretty darn important. Bloom where you’re planted.”