Foundation figures, folks mark another fulfilling year

Friday, June 23, 2017
Spirit of Philanthropy winner Gene Clodfelter (left) receives his award from Putnam County Community Foundation President Ken Eitel during the organization’s annual meeting Wednesday night at the Inn at DePauw.
Banner Graphic/ERIC BERNSEE

When the Putnam County Community Foundation gets together for its annual summer soiree each June, it’s difficult to determine what’s most impressive -- the passion, the commitment or the numbers themselves.

In reality, it takes all three and more to make the Foundation tick. And in 2017, it’s ticking away at a record rate.

Serving the county for almost two generations now, the Putnam County Community Foundation has awarded a collective $13 million in grants and scholarships benefiting the people of Putnam County, board President Ken Eitel noted in opening remarks at the organization’s annual meeting at the Inn at DePauw.

Addressing the annual meeting audience, Putnam County Community Foundation President Ken Eitel tells of the achievements, growth and vitality of the organization.
Banner Graphic/ERIC BERNSEE

Grants and scholarship paid out by the Foundation in 2016 alone totaled more than $880,000.

Over the course of its history, the Foundation has aided 2,002 students and distributed nearly $3.3 million in scholarship awards (not including Lilly scholarships), representing 25 percent of all grant awards made by the organization, Scholarship Chairman Carolyn Mann said.

The many contributions to the Foundation over the past 31 years, President Eitel and other speakers suggested, “will strengthen Putnam County forever.”

Immediate past president Todd Lewis is applauded by Putnam County Community Foundation Executive Director Elaine Peck for his Foundation contributions after being named an Honorary Board Member at the annual meeting of the organization.
Banner Graphic/ERIC BERNSEE

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.

And board treasurer Mitch Proctor offered up figures to support those pronouncements.

Reviewing the financial statement, annual meeting attendees could see the Community Foundation had almost $30 million in total assets and $245,484 in liabilities on Dec. 31, 2016, as Proctor pointed out, “with 278 active funds and endowments benefiting the people of Putnam County.”

The Foundation received donations totaling more than $1.6 million, while its investment program earned more than $2.4 million for the benefit of the community in 2016.

President Eitel expressed hopes that the stories shared Wednesday night would leave attendees with “a better understanding of why philanthropy is essential to a community through stories and examples of people who dreamed big and gave more. Today we stand on the shoulders of those people.”

The passion and commitment of donors continue to amaze Eitel.

“One of my great ‘ah-ha’ moments when I became more involved in Foundation work,” Eitel summarized, “was the generosity and loyalty of the communities of Putnam County.”

That, he said, is reflected by the 181 persons who have contributed to the Community Foundation every year for five years or more.

During the annual meeting, the Foundation presented a pair of yearly awards, honoring Gene Clodfelter, of Russellville, and Carolyn and John Carson, now of Utah, for contributions to the community and the organization.

Clodfelter was presented 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.

Called an “early visionary and believer” in the potential of the Community Foundation, Clodfelter served eight years as a board member (1987-94).

“Gene Clodfelter has spent his whole life working for the community of Russellville and for the people of Putnam County,” President Eitel said. “He has helped govern and lead the county by serving as a Putnam County councilman and county commissioner ... and as a careful fund steward of the Russell Township Scholarship, where he works hard to ensure that no deserving student in Russell Township goes unassisted.”

Lauded for his “particular caring and neighborly spirit,” Clodfelter was called “a champion” of the Putnam County Foundation, Russellville Community Center and the Russellville Cantata who has been involved in other nonprofit agencies, most notably the Putnam County Senior Center.

“I’m awfully proud of the work that has been done in the county,” Clodfelter told the audience in response. “It’s a pleasure to see things that do develop.”

Meanwhile, the Carsons are the newest members of the Corinthian Society, which honors Foundation donors of 25 consecutive years or more.

The Carsons have been involved in “a gazillion things but many of them have been behind the scenes,” Foundation Executive Director Elaine Peck noted.

Joining the annual meeting via Skype from their home in Utah, the Carsons are both 1957 graduates of Greencastle High School who are largely responsible for establishing the GHS Alumni Association, a group that now has a Foundation fund balance of more than $400,000 and has awarded $120,000 in scholarships.

Wearing a purple shirt, no doubt to show his legendary allegiance to GHS, John Carson is known as “Mr. Greencastle High School,” Peck said of a man who will always be remembered as one of the organizers and motivators of the famed “Undedication Game” that saw a final Tiger Cub basketball game played in the old Downtown Gym in 1988.

Despite leaving Greencastle to move to Utah to be closer to their daughters, the Carsons have maintained their local giving spirit, making a donation to the Foundation every year since 1993 after making their first gift in 1986.

The Carsons first became involved in the Foundation through the Clinton Township Scholarship Fund and the interest of brother-in-law John Brackney.

“Thirty years later,” Peck praised, “that scholarship has supported 32 students for all four years of college and awarded nearly $50,000 in scholarships.”

The current balance of the Clinton Township Scholarship Fund stands at $115,000, Peck noted.

Immediate past president Todd Lewis was also honored, receiving the Honorary Board Member Award for remaining “very, very dedicated to our community.”

During the annual meeting, Foundation members also re-elected Rick Bittles, Phil Gick, Mitch Proctor and Carolyn Mann as second-term board members with three-year terms ending Dec. 31, 2020.

Elected as a first-term board member with a three-year term ending Dec. 31, 2020 was Kate Knaul, while mayoral appointee Susan Lemon was named a one-year member with a term ending Dec. 31, 2018.

In the annual chocolate box raffle, Lisa Mock won the Citizens Eco-Drive Corso Two-Tone Watch donated by Steve Mason of Mason Jewelers, who then announced he was also providing a second men’s watch for her husband Mark. Meanwhile, Steve Fields won the recliner from Shuee’s Furniture and Mattress, represented by Carolyn Shuee and Lynn Taylor.

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