An Unexpected Legacy

Matthew Rolinger Fund

Matthew Rolinger’s older siblings joked that he’d figured out how to live out the soap opera, Days of Our Lives, that they’d watched together as kids. It wasn’t far from the truth. Matthew served 16 years as Director of Allen Hospital Foundation, helping donors connect their generosity to their passions. He was smart, charismatic, and adventurous, according to his sister, Susan Rolinger. “Matthew had the ability to put an extraordinary amount of energy and love into projects that he did, and I think our community benefited from that,” said Susan. “He was proud to live in Waterloo.”

Matthew was also lonely. He had a loving family and close friends but always wanted a family of his own, something that would not happen during his lifetime. “I think that was a trigger for him and a challenge in his adult life,” said Susan. “It fed into the drug addiction and continued mental health struggles he had.”

On June 8, 2021, Matthew died at age 47, losing his battle with addiction to methamphetamine.

As someone who spent nearly his entire career in philanthropy, Matthew had established a charitable plan in his estate, including the creation of the Matthew Rolinger Fund with the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa. “People trusted Matthew, so the same thing was important when he was deciding where to leave his money.”  

Susan and his other siblings, Mark Rolinger and Cami Smalley, have intentionally and openly shared Matthew’s story. As fund advisors, they say grants will go to help people struggling with mental health and addiction. Susan acknowledges it’s not the legacy he would have expected, but he would be happy to know he’s making a difference for others. CFNEIA is honored to be part of Matthew’s life and legacy.

“Matthew had the ability to put an extraordinary amount of energy and love into projects that he did, and I think our community benefited from that. He was proud to live in Waterloo.”

Susan Rolinger

Northeast Iowa Food Bank

Ensuring northeast Iowans have every meal every day is the target goal of the Northeast Iowa Food Bank (NEIFB). Food insecure families and individuals in 16 northeast Iowa counties put their trust in NEIFB. But, as Barb Prather, Executive Director, explains, a perfect storm is leading to greater food insecurity. As COVID-19 emergency and other government programs are cut for low-income families, the need for their services has increased between 25 and 40 percent, all while the NEIFB faces greater challenges in accessing food for those they serve. NEIFB has received over $1.6 million in grants from CFNEIA, its affiliates, and fundholders since 2003, including a $60,000 Black Hawk County grant in 2022. NEIFB relies on community partners to meet the community’s needs, and Barb knows CFNEIA trusts the organization to do just that.

Cedar River Park

Youth sports build character, teach lessons, and are an important part of life in Iowa. When the community of Waverly needed to upgrade and expand facilities for its youth baseball and softball programs, a vision turned to action in 2020 with a campaign to build a new complex that would comprise of eight diamonds, highlighted by an inclusive all-play Miracle Field. The City of Waverly and a volunteer-led taskforce needed a trusted partner to assist with financial management and donor support and chose to create a special project fund with the Bremer County Community Foundation, a CFNEIA affiliate. The Cedar River Park project reached its $1.2 million goal in 2022 and games on the fields will begin in the 2023 season.