Anita and Ray Pohlman

Donors Anita and Ray Pohlman were affectionately dubbed NeNe and Hooray by their grandchildren. While the names have stuck, there is still chatter among the family as to the appropriate spelling of the monikers. Regardless of their “real” spelling, the Nene and Hooray Fund, established in 2014, helps the Pohlmans affirm a family commitment to philanthropy and community.

Giving back is not new to the family—Ray and Anita’s careers were built on it. For nearly 20 years, Ray has served as AutoZone’s Vice President of Government and Community Relations. Anita was a devoted teacher at Idlewild Presbyterian Kindergarten and St. Mary’s Episcopal School. After these successful careers and raising their family here, the Pohlmans wanted to direct their philanthropy to a community that means so much to them.

Ray cites the history, the people, and the diversity as some of Memphis’ greatest assets. “We have our problems, too,” he adds, “like all major urban areas, but we are not afraid to confront them and together move toward a solution.”

It is that desire to work together for a better Memphis that brought them to the Community Foundation.

Both Anita and Ray are interested in education and human services and supporting the organizations that address these impact areas. They knew from friends who are also fund holders that with the research and resources of the Community Foundation, they would be able to find the organizations where their grants could make the biggest impact.

“The Community Foundation provides a more strategic and thoughtful way of giving back,” Ray explains. “By that I mean, the Community Foundation is a partner in developing an overall plan to make Memphis a better place to live for all of our citizens.”

Anita agrees. “Through networking and research, the Community Foundation has the ability to recommend contributions to worthwhile programs that may not even be on our radar screen.”

Through their donor-advised fund, the Pohlmans are already supporting The Works, Inc., in South Memphis—which strives to rebuild, restore, and renew families in that community through housing, economic development, and social services—and look forward to making more strategic grants in the near future.

“Giving back is a behavior we learned from our parents, and that is a legacy we want our children and grandchildren to continue,” say the Pohlmans. “This fund is for their philanthropy as well as ours. We have been fortunate to have the opportunity to do this for all of us, and it will be their responsibility to carry it on.”