When she founded The Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty in 1999, Patti Alderson established an organized means to help people in her community. The desire to help, however, has always been in her blood.

“I have always had a passion to do good deeds,” she says. “When I was very young, I can remember trying to figure out how I could provide clothes for the needy kids in my class.”

Alderson found that outlet through the foundation.

On Dec. 23, 1999, when the foundation was still in its infancy, Alderson drove to a fire at an apartment complex in West Chester. She contacted local radio and TV stations, requesting they ask listeners and viewers for donations. With Alderson at the helm, the foundation collected clothes, furniture, toys and gifts for 55 families.

The foundation now has a program called the Angel Fund, through which it provides one-time emergency financial assistance to families in crisis. Alderson, who is now president of the foundation’s board of directors, recalls a circumstance when a man was sick and unable to work for a short time. His family missed a month’s rent and was evicted from their apartment. A social worker alerted the foundation to the situation when the two children showed up at school with suitcases in hand, crying that they no longer had a home. With the help of the Angel Fund, the family was able to stay in their apartment.

Through another foundation program Alderson helped establish, called the Youth in Philanthropy Fund, teenagers raise money to help other youth in the community.

One of the fund’s most notable accomplishments was targeting bullying as an issue in community schools and granting $3,500 to Lakota Local Schools to bring Rachel’s Challenge to the area. Rachel’s Challenge is a program named after the first victim of the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in 1999. It teaches values Rachel herself held, such as tolerance and respect. Because of the grant, Lakota was able to bring Rachel’s father, Darrell Scott, to the school last year to speak.

Last June, the YIP grant to Lakota was recognized as a Great Grant/Initiative — an award highlighting outstanding examples of the impact young grant-makers can have in their communities — at the Michigan Community Foundation Youth Project’s summer youth leadership conference.

Alderson also reaches people through her work outside of the foundation. She has taught business classes at Reading High School, coached cheerleading for more than a decade at Reading High School and St. Susanna School in Mason, worked as co-owner of West Chester Marketing Inc. with her husband, and worked as a special events coordinator at Ursuline Academy in Blue Ash.

Alderson advises the next generation to make a plan and set a timeline. “Don’t just think about your goals; write them down and look at them,” she says. “Your road to success is built upon attaining those goals and following your plan ... one step at a time.”