Mansour Karim donates $25,000 to BGCCA

Friday, August 15, 2014
Jafar Karim had a fourth-grade education and his wife, Zahra, had none at all, but they knew better than any textbook could teach them that investing in the next generation brings big returns.

Zahra sold one of her rings to help pay the way for their son, Mansour, to travel from Iran to America to become an engineer.

Stephanie, Mansour and Becky

His American tale began when he arrived in November 1950 with $27 in his pocket – five $5 bills and two more $1 bills – the seed money to start him on the path to studying at South Dakota State University and eventually becoming an engineer for the South Dakota Department of Transportation in Pierre – and, in time, one of the region’s most generous donors.

In 2011, when the Pierre Area Charitable Organization honored Karim as Pierre’s Philanthropist of the Year, he had already given away nearly $1.5 million, and his charitable work has continued since then.

Paying it forward
Mansour Karim long ago paid back his parents.

Stephanie, Mansour and Becky

But Thursday he paid it forward, celebrating his 86th birthday by partnering with the South Dakota Community Foundation to establish the Jafar & Zahra Karim Endowment Fund to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of the Capital Area.

Stephanie Judson, president of the South Dakota Community Foundation, said a couple from Wisconsin who wish to remain anonymous had already donated $25,000 in the form of a challenge grant to help the Boys & Girls Club of the Capital Area. The grant challenged others to put up funds to equal that grant.

Judson said when Karim learned that the challenge grant had been made, he put up the matching funds by himself.

Judson and Boys & Girls Club of the Capital Area Director Becky Spoehr said the endowment will generate proceeds that will go to help the Boys & Girls Club each year, in perpetuity. And other donors will be able to add to the endowment as time goes on.

Karim, a long-time supporter of the Boys & Girls Club of the Capital Area, has great-grandchildren who have attended there.

Community of possibilities
Some of the seven children of Mansour Karim and his late wife, Ruth, were on hand Thursday as the endowment was announced at the Boys & Girls Club of the Capital Area.

One of them, Jafar Karim of Rapid City – named for his grandfather – said his father’s love for Pierre and South Dakota makes it easy to understand why Mansour Karim is so willing to give to good organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club.

 “It’s not surprising in light of what this country and this community have made possible for him,” Jafar Karim said. “This community has made it possible for him to be successful in a way that never would have been possible where he grew up in Tehran, Iran.”

Judson said Karim is a great example for young people in the Boys & Girls Club.

“He believed in the American dream and he worked to make it become his reality,” she said.

With a small crowd gathered at the Boys & Girls Club to celebrate Karim’s birthday and hear the announcement about the endowment, Mansour Karim addressed the group briefly, saying the point was to honor his mother and father.

“I love you all. God bless us all. God bless the United States of America,” he said.

This article was written by By Lance Nixon of the Capital Journal