Here we are, the holidays steamrolling toward us. With them come parties where we don sparkles and drink bubbly. Gatherings with those we love most. And lots of opportunities for making a difference. I want to talk about two givers whose example inspires me. I believe it will you, too.

Recently, Sonia Greteman and her husband, Chris Brunner, were among those honored as new life members of the Wichita State University Foundation President’s Club, signaling their contributions have exceeded a certain threshold. These two have been dedicated supporters of the university and community for years. Both graduated from WSU. Sonia with a degree in graphic design; Chris with an MFA in sculpture. They used their education as launchpads for difference-making careers rooted in the arts. Not an easy place to carve out a niche – or to earn a living.

As president and creative director of the 32-year-strong Greteman Group, Sonia has blazed a remarkable trail. Chris is no less impressive. His stone-and-steel works grace both public and private spaces. But these two have never just been about themselves or their professions. They’ve always looked for ways to give back. Beneficiaries have been the WSU School of Art and Design, WSU Foundation’s National Advisory Council, Ulrich Museum, KMUW/PBS, KPTS/NPR, Wichita Art Museum, Mark Arts, HumanKind Ministries and Tallgrass Film Festival. You get the idea. It’s a very long list.

Donating to Make a Difference

A theme emerges in their giving. They support causes and organizations that help attract and retain the best and the brightest. That inspire, broaden and educate. That make Wichita vibrant. Sonia and Chris set up a foundation to aid in their giving and say it’s one of the best things they’ve done, both financially and philanthropically.

“It makes it really easy to invest in things that matter,” Sonia says. “WSU expands our lives in so many ways. I’d never want to live in a community without a university mindset. It keeps you growing, the true fountain of youth.”

When You Get, Give

As the holiday season begins in earnest and you get more of those end-of-year mail solicitations, let’s devote them more than a passing glance. Let’s think about the things we care about. What we find enriching and uplifting. Then let’s give. With open hands and hearts.