Getting Started and Teaching Their Children to Give Back

In 2010, after a call to a family friend – a grower with business and family ties to the Bakersfield community – Jeff Pickering liked what he learned about Kern County and its similarities to the Central Florida community where he grew up. “Winter Park and the Orlando area are supported by a local economy that includes agriculture, natural resources, the aerospace and defense industries, tourism and a growing public university,” says Jeff. “Although I knew I might be perceived as an outsider, I felt very comfortable getting the position of President and CEO at Kern Community Foundation, knowing Kern County was a lot like home.”

And home is what Bakersfield and Kern County have become for Jeff and his family. Together he, his wife Stephanie, and their three children, Colin, Olivia, and Grant, have found a real sense of belonging here. “Our first stop in Bakersfield was a tour of Saint Francis Parish School with Cindy Meek and Tim Antongiovanni,” says Stephanie, a native of Palm Springs, California. “They were so welcoming and genuinely glad to meet us.” Jeff adds “It was the same with meeting new friends.  We have found that the people here are what make this community special.”

The generosity of Kern County residents is another reason why the Pickering’s feel at home here. “We were both raised in families that taught us the importance of giving back,” says the couple, whose parents each have careers in healthcare and long histories of volunteer service. “Between the two of us, we’ve lived in New York, Washington D.C., New Orleans, Chicago, San Diego and Los Angeles. The people in this community are some of the most generous we have ever met.” Which is good news for Kern Community Foundation, an organization that serves as a home for local philanthropists.

“The thing I enjoy most about my work is learning of the causes our donors are passionate about and then helping them create or leave a charitable legacy that makes a difference,” says Jeff. The Foundation holds more than 100 named charitable funds established by local donors with assets of $18 million.

The Pickering family has even started their own philanthropic work in the community, establishing the Pickering Family Fund in October 2011. "It's a way to organize our family's giving, as an alternative to a private foundation," Jeff explains. "If you're like me and my family, you probably get involved with charitable causes that touch your heart. Sometimes that means giving time, and other times it means giving money. "

Jeff and Stephanie often sit down with their children to discuss the causes or nonprofit organizations they want to support as a family, using the Pickering Family Fund. Before making a decision, they research the nonprofit organization's on the Foundation's free Nonprofit Search tool. "We want to teach our children to give, but also that informed giving is better. With so many important charitable causes to choose from, it helps to have access to reliable information about organizations we give to and the impact our donations are making."

Jeff Pickering invites you to join the growing community of donors who have established a charitable fund at Kern Community Foundation. Founded in 1999, the Foundation helps local donors practice smarter giving to achieve greater impact from their philanthropy. The Foundation offers a variety of giving options and accepts a wide range of assets for maximum tax benefit, such as: cash, appreciated securities, real estate, life insurance, IRAs, partnership interests and bequests.

For more information, contact our Donor Services team at 661.616.2617 or

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