Each semester I open my ABUS F154 Human Relations course with the following question: “What do you want to be most in life?”

My new, unsuspecting and unaware freshmen answer, “Successful, happy, wealthy, sexy, etc,” but none of them answer (until the end of the semester), “significant.”

By the end of the school term they come to learn that being a “success” is being known as one of the best in the world — while someone who is significant is being one of the best for the world.” There is an enormous difference. That difference is that successful people add value to their own lives (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that), but significant people also add value to others’ lives.

Last Wednesday evening I was privileged to attend a reception at the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum sponsored by Warwick & Schikora, CPAs and Fountainhead Development that allowed 122 Fairbanksans to come together and show that Fairbanks is a special place filled with special people. This reminded me again of the difference between being a success and being significant.

This event was filled with significant people who generously contribute time, talent and treasure to the betterment of our community. At this reception last Wednesday night, over $21,000 was donated to the Golden Heart Community Foundation — GHCF — an affiliate of the Alaska Community Foundation — or ACF. Since GHCF’s inception in 2013, over $71,000 has been granted to worthy and carefully screened Fairbanks nonprofits to support their efforts to build for us a better community.

Foundations are wonderful because they keep the principal gifts intact and disperse earned interest each year, therefore making donations last into perpetuity.

Many board members, including board chair Jo Kuchle and other volunteers and donors, are examples of Fairbanksans achieving both success and significance. Kuchle has given countless presentations to many clubs and nonprofits boards about the benefits to our community in opening an agency fund with ACF. Because of the efforts of the GHCF Advisory Board, Chair Jo Kuchle and those of ACF, the Interior is well represented with 14 agency funds and 6 other funds.

In 6 short years GHCF has built growing endowments of over $600,000 funded by people who care for our community like you and like me.

Being significant and enhancing other people’s lives is important for businesses.

There is a lot more for us to do with our time, talent and treasures in Fairbanks.

Charlie Dexter is a professor of applied business emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Community and Technical College. He can be reached at charlie.dexter@alaska.edu. This column is provided as a public service of the UAF Applied Business Department.