(L-R) Martha Siemer Stice (representing Siemer Milling Company), Marilyn McClean and Robert McClean (recipients of the 2019 Richard C. Siemer Outstanding Philanthropist Award)
Robert and Marilyn McClean were named the 2019 recipients of the Richard C. Siemer Outstanding Philanthropist Award at a donor appreciation reception hosted by Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation on Tuesday, November 19. The McCleans were nominated for their philanthropic work for social justice in Coles County. Martha Siemer Stice, daughter of Rick Siemer (the award’s namesake) presented the McCleans with the award.
Robert and Marilyn McClean have spent their lives advocating for social justice and human rights. Now through the Coles County Peace and Justice Fund their work will continue in Coles County forever. The fund was established with Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation in 2018 to annually contribute to organizations in Coles County for programs and activities that encourage mutual trust and promote cross-cultural understanding on matters of social justice, human rights, religious tolerance, and environmental protection.
Robert McClean is a retired clergy of the United Methodist Church. Unlike many clergy, Robert did not spend most of his time behind the pulpit, but instead, he and his wife, Marilyn, worked behind-the-scenes to represent the United Methodist Church and its organizational values through the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City. “Our job was not to lobby on behalf of the church. Instead, we learned everything we could about current events and social issues and took that information to the churches. It was then the responsibility of the congregations to act on this knowledge,” explains Marilyn.
Their work with the Church Center continued until Robert’s retirement in 1996 and the couple relocated to Marilyn’s hometown of Mattoon, Illinois. Their pursuit of social justice, however, has not wavered since Robert’s retirement. Rather, as active members of their community, Robert and Marilyn have identified a need for the promotion of social justice in Coles County, which led them to establish the Coles County Peace and Justice Fund.
“This fund is our way to support the community-based organizations and projects that are in alignment with our worldview,” explain Robert and Marilyn. The couple explained that their worldview is connected to the social principles the United Methodist Church which provide guidance for the protection of the natural world, the fostering of a nurturing community, and the addressing of issues within the social, economic, political and world communities.
This fund will continue into perpetuity thanks to a planned legacy gift from the McCleans to the Community Foundation. A fund advisory committee consisting of community members from Coles County who are knowledgeable of the social, religious, economic, and environmental issues in their communities will make grant recommendations from the fund.
Nominees for the Richard C. Siemer Outstanding Philanthropy Award may be individuals, families or organizations with a proven record of exceptional generosity who, through direct financial support, demonstrate outstanding civic and charitable responsibility and whose generosity encourages others to take philanthropic leadership roles in a community, national and/or international level.