Over the years I have encountered some common misconceptions about foundations.

Although some of the perceptions might be based on the roles foundations played historically, I believe the New Albany Community Foundation is much different in some positive ways.

First is the perception that foundations simply wait for older, wealthy people to pass away and leave lots of money to the community.

While this might happen occasionally, in most cases our community foundation, through active donors, is shaping New Albany through strategic and often transformational investments and partnerships.

The Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts, the New Albany branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, the Jefferson Series, the lecture series for students, Healthy New Albany and the New Albany-Plain Local School District's Well-being Initiative represent just a few examples.

Through all of these amazing projects and programs, New Albany families, companies and organizations have had a profound impact on the community by supporting educational, cultural and healthful programs.

And it's not just wealthy families -- it's families of different means who give at different levels. All gifts are valued and help the community.

A second misconception is that a foundation's role solely is to award grants.

Although grant-making is something the foundation does, in New Albany the community foundation serves another important role: a convener, bringing together various community groups to advance projects and initiatives by working together.

It is a real tribute to our community leaders that they are willing to work together toward the collective good. City, township and school district leaders and other community groups routinely collaborate in New Albany.

That's not always the case in other communities and certainly not to the degree it happens in New Albany.

It's not uncommon for the foundation to be at the center of those projects, helping to shape a shared vision, find common goals, identify potential partners and bring them together.

As chairwoman of the foundation's grant committee the past several years, I have had the pleasure of witnessing this uniquely effective approach unfold again and again.

My hope is that New Albany leaders never abandon their collaborative "can-do" nature, because it has resulted in some amazing outcomes for residents.

Facilities like our library, arts center and the Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany bring people together, which builds our sense of community.

But even the process that led to the library, arts center and the Heit Center help build our sense of community. The planning, programming, fundraising and volunteering all bring people together, as well.

It's that "stacking of hands" that makes New Albany a stronger, more cohesive community.

Patti Steinour is a member of the New Albany Community Foundation board of trustees and is chairwoman of its grant committee.