by Matt Kupec
January 1, 2020
I have had another Hallmark moment!
What, you might ask, is a Hallmark moment?
Well, I must confess that I have grown a fondness for Hallmark channel movies. The channel which has the same sappy story line for every one of its movies – big city executive finds himself/herself in a very small community with an appealing charm that eventually will draw them away from the big city into the small town forever.
The charm of the small town is both the physical beauty of the town and the surroundings, and of the goodness of the people.
My first Hallmark moment came some forty years ago when I was introduced to Chapel Hill, NC when I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Known widely as the quintessential college town with a population under 50,000, Chapel Hill had an appeal that endured well beyond my undergraduate days. I returned to Chapel Hill to lead the UNC fundraising program for over twenty years
A year ago, I started with the Southern Illinois University Foundation in Carbondale, Illinois as the in-house fundraising consultant to lead the fundraising program. SIU was just one year away from completing a $75 million fundraising campaign but with great success has now announced a campaign extension with a new $200 million goal.
For me, Carbondale has become my second Hallmark moment.
What is special about Carbondale?
Small Town. Carbondale is a small town with a population of 25,902 residents. It is located in the very southern part of Illinois, some 300 miles away from Chicago to the far north. The downtown is small but charming. Carbondale is a bustling community of unusual shops, diverse commerce, cultural activities, and many other luxuries that would be expected in a large city, yet it maintains the comforts and charm of a small town. The city is the most populous in Southern Illinois outside the St Louis Metro-East region.
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