Gifts to Foundation will Benefit Future Generations

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Helping foster children. Preserving history. Providing scholarships for future pharmacists and even those studying Slovakian culture. Easing the journey for those facing life's end. Helping people in crisis.

Those are among the myriad reasons prompting area people, despite the poor economy, to donate more than $2 million this past year to the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania.

One eighth of that amount, $240,500, went into the Lycoming County Disaster Relief Fund to provide relief from flooding after Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene. Some organizations have already received grants related to September flooding.

"The economy certainly has an impact on the decision to give, but ultimately philanthropy is about more than the number of zeroes associated with a gift," Jennifer D. Wilson, president and CEO of the foundation, said. "It is about charitable inclination and a commitment to the greater good. The capacity of a donor's heart is almost always greater than the capacity of her bank account."

Of the $2 million people chose to endow, $1.4 million allowed for 14 new funds to be established.

The new funds will provide scholarships as well as funds designated for specific purposes, donor-advised funds in which the donor has a say in how earnings are distributed, and more.

"The vast majority of the $2 million received will serve our communities in perpetuity," Wilson said, as the foundation invests the money and provides grants from earnings generated on those investments.

"These are gifts that preserve the traditions of our past and propel the opportunities of our future."

Among the new funds is the Taylor J. Ertel Scholarship Fund for Foster Children created by Allen and Kay Ertel, in memory of their adopted son.

The fund is intended to help foster children improve their position in the world, Allen Ertel said.

"Once they would age out (of the system) or once they wanted to do something additional to what they were doing, we would fund it," he said. "They wanted to go to beauty school, we would fund that. They wanted to go to Bible school, we would fund that. They wanted to go to college, we would pay part of that."

The Ertels have helped foster children since 1993, but only established the fund with the First Community Foundation in 2011 because they said they were getting too old to organize big fundraising drives.

Another new fund is the Williamsport Home Pillar Endowment Fund, Don Pote, executive director, said.

The Williamsport Home previously received grant funding from the First Community Foundation which allowed it to build a second end-of-life care suite. The two-room suites allow for families to spend time with residents in their final days.

The new fund will allow the home to take on future projects, such as expanding the rehabilitation center, Pote said.

In the center, restorative staff provide individualized care in physical, occupational and speech therapy.

The money also may be used for refurbishing the apartments.

"We want it to be more homelike," Pote said. "More personalized. We're trying to give them privacy in a home-style environment."

Other funds started in 2011 will cover many different projects.

The Dr. Randall F. Hipple Fund is in memory of the 34-year City Councilman, council president and local doctor who was committed to the city's historic preservation. The money will be dedicated toward historic preservation in the City of Williamsport.

The Stephanie Husek Scholarship Fund will use one-half of the income to provide a scholarship for students from Slovakia pursuing advanced studies in the country and the other half of the income for a scholarship to an American pursuing Slovak language and culture in Slovakia.

The Robert E. Barbour Scholarship Fund was established in memory of Barbour to provide a one-time scholarship award to one or more Lycoming County students pursuing a career as a pharmacist, with preference given to students graduating from Montoursville Area High School.

The Lycoming-Clinton MH/MR Fund established an organizational endowment, which will support its projects and programs.

The Robert W. and Lucy E. Donehower Charitable Remainder UniTrust is a designated fund for Lewisburg.

The Joann M. Smith Charitable Remainder UniTrust will be used to support the most pressing human service needs for charities within Lycoming County. The George A. & Shirley S. Durrwachter Fund also will be used to support charity needs.

Three donor-advised funds, which allow the donor to make recommendations for the distribution of grants, also began. They were the Brian and Dana Pick Fund, the Preservation Muncy Spend-Down Fund and the Gus and Val Genetti Donor-Advised Fund.

The J. Roman Way Fund for the Benefit of Way's Garden is a designated fund for Way's Garden maintenance.

"While the establishment of new funds grows the power of our endowment to fulfill the future increased needs of the region, there is an important place for everyone at the Community Foundation," Wilson said. "We received gifts from over 300 donors this year that ranged in size from $5 to $295,000 and this $2 million achievement is a credit to each one of them that is worthy of celebration."

Gifts to other established funds totaled $628,000 for the year.

Muncy Bank and Trust gave the largest gift to an established fund in 2011 of more than $213,000.

David Mayer, senior vice president, said the bank established the Muncy Bank and Trust Co. Community Foundation in 2007 so that it will provide grants to nonprofit organizations once it's fully funded. The board of directors will oversee and authorize all distributions from the foundation.

"This fund is believed to be the first corporate donor-advised fund established in the 90-plus year history of the Williamsport-Lycoming Community Foundation," Mayer said.