Foundation celebrates 30 years of service

Thursday, June 16, 2016
Banner Graphic/Eric Bernsee Community Foundation Executive Director Elaine Peck toasts Jinsie Bingham after presenting her with a medal representing her inclusion in the Corinthian Society, which cites Foundation donors of 25 years or more.

Marking the Big 3-0 Wednesday night, the Putnam County Community Foundation celebrated with some numbers of much greater significance than 30.

For example, in serving the county for almost two generations now, the Foundation has awarded more than $12 million in grants and scholarships benefiting the people of Putnam County, board president Todd Lewis noted. In 2015 alone, the Foundation awarded more than $1 million, he reported.

"In celebrating the accomplishments of 2015 and 30 years of service and impact in Putnam County," Lewis said people are able to make a lasting and growing positive impact in Putnam County by giving through the Community Foundation.

The many contributions to the Foundation over the past 30 years, he suggested, "will strengthen Putnam County forever."

And board treasurer Nancy Wells had the figures to support that notion.

In the financial statement, annual meeting attendees could see the Community Foundation had almost $27 million in total assets and $338,224 in liabilities on Dec. 31, 2015. And that's after enduring what Wells called "a challenging year in the global investment markets" in which the Foundation had investment losses of $950,728.

However, Wells also noted that the Foundation received donations totaling more than $1.6 million.

Over the past 30 years, the Foundation has become such a vibrant and vital part of the community that it's difficult to recall a time when it wasn't contributing to the individuals and organizations that make up the fabric of Greencastle and Putnam County.

"In 1985, we could not have imagined how things would change in our community and the world around us," Lewis observed, adding that "30 years ago IBM employed 985 people here in Greencastle; there was no Big Walnut Sports Park or Peoples Pathways or splash park. There was no Putnam County Museum or Greencastle Ivy Tech campus --- and yes, you young folks, there was no Starbucks in Greencastle."

Through all those changes, the Foundation "remains a stabilizing and growing force in Putnam County," Lewis said, "thanks to the vision of those who started the Foundation and those who have been good shepherds of the Foundation since that time. I am continually amazed at the vision the founders had."

One thing that allows the Community Foundation to respond to changing times are the funds produced by unrestricted endowments. In 2015, the Community Foundation awarded $254,250 from unrestricted endowments. And of that overall $12 million it has awarded, nearly $2.8 million has come from unrestricted endowments in all geographic and philanthropic areas within the county, board member Susan Lemon reported, adding that for every dollar the Foundation has available to award, it receives requests for $4.

Treasurer Wells noted that since inception, the average annual investment returns of the organization are 8.57 percent and the Foundation has earned more than $13 million for the community.

"As Todd (Lewis) mentioned earlier," she added, "grants and scholarships paid in 2015 totaled more than $1 million. This was the first year the Community Foundation was able to award that much in one fiscal year."

The exact amount of 2015 grants awarded was $1,021,795.

"History indicates that in 20 years, an endowment invested and administered by the Community Foundation will have nearly doubled in size and will have awarded more than was originally contributed," Wells added.

Over the last 30 years, the Community Foundation has helped 1,832 students and distributed more than $3 million in scholarship awards (not including Lilly Scholarships)," board member Carolyn Mann noted in a scholarship update.

That amount represents more than 25 percent of all the grant awards made by the Foundation.

In 2015, the Community Foundation administered 72 unique scholarship programs and awarded more than $244,000 in scholarships plus an additional $105,000 in Lilly Scholarships benefiting more than 150 graduating seniors and adults.

Ellie Ypma, immediate past president who co-chaired the Lilly GIFT VI Campaign Committee, said that over the past 25 plus years, in Putnam County alone, Lilly Endowment has contributed more than $7 million.

The sixth Lilly matching challenge -- GIFT VI -- was a huge success, she said, due to "incredible generosity of 272 individuals, including 100 percent of the board and staff members."

Board members contributed $93,142 as the Foundation matched Lilly's $500,000 and exceeded its private goal of increasing the assets of unrestricted endowments of $1 million by almost $200,000 ($189,883).

"The achievement of the Lilly GIFT VI challenge is yet another reminder of how generous the people of Putnam County are," Ypma praised. "This is a very caring community, and we must never take it for granted."

Tom Graffis addresses the audience after receiving the Spirit of Philanthropy Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Putnam County Foundation Board of Directors, from Board President Todd Lewis (right).

The Foundation also presented a pair of annual awards, honoring Jinsie Bingham and Dr. Tom Graffis.

A past board member and past president, a fund founder, a Spirit of Philanthropy winner, and an honorary board member, Bingham is the newest member of the Corinthian Society, which cites donors of 25 years or more.

Graffis received the Spirit of Philanthropy Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Foundation Board of Directors. It recognizes persons who have demonstrated extraordinary philanthropic spirit and accomplishments.

During the annual meeting, Foundation members also elected Jane Alcorn, Jeff Blaydes and Alan Zerkel to three-year terms ending December 2018; Debbi Christy, Ken Eitel, Susan Price and Nancy Wells to a second three-year terms beginning in January 2017; and Chase Haltom to a first three-year term beginning January 2017.

In the annual chocolate box raffle, David Archer won the white gold emerald-and-diamond necklace donated by Steve Mason of Mason Jewelers, while Neil Irwin won the recliner from Shuee's Furniture and Mattress, represenred by Carolyn Shuee.

The boxes of chocolates purchased in the raffle were donated by Lynda Dunbar of Completely Nuts and Candy Co.

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