Community Foundation funds warm kids, honor loved ones
Applications for Teacher Mini-Grants are due September 30, and the Hampshire County Community Foundation will be moving on to some of the other initiatives it helps fund – including support for Warm the Children.
The foundation’s fund for Warm the Children was set up 2 years ago, as one of many such special funds.
Karen Hyers, who established the “OK Hampshire County Warm the Children” fund along with her husband Ormand, wishes more people understood the opportunities offered through the foundation.
The people of Hampshire County are so generous, Hyers said, but “this is a different way of giving.” She compares donating to the foundation fund to adding money to a savings account.
When a check is written to Warm the Children, the full amount goes to help this year’s children. But what about future children and their needs?
If the check is written to the foundation’s Warm the Children fund, it is like putting the money in a savings account, she says.
It results in a smaller amount going to help Warm the Children this year, but a larger amount will result over time. The foundation invests donations, with income going to the designated charity, and this income keeps coming in every year – forever.
Among recent recipients aided by the William Brady and Jean Taylor Rannells Fund, for example, were a backpack program at HHS, a county health department anti-vaping campaign and the River House “Art for All” program.
The fund was established over a decade ago by Trudy Rannells Seita in memory of her parents, and focuses on programs related to youth and health, honoring their concerns.
“What happens in most rural areas,” Seita says, “is that when someone passes away and friends and families want to do something to honor them, they give to the hospice or fire department or church. There’s nothing else you can do, except maybe set up a scholarship.”
Big cities have their corporate donors, but rural areas like Hampshire County have fewer such resources. Community foundations allow people to set up charities themselves, and to leave legacies benefiting the community for years to come.
Another donor, Cindy Johnson, set up both a foundation scholarship fund in honor of the son she lost in 2016 and a fund to honor her father, former Romney mayor Hoy G. Shingleton – done on his 90th birthday.
The R. L. Johnson Jr. Scholarship goes to a HHS basketball player. The fund is still building, and Johnson adds enough money each year to award the scholarship now.
Each year, as all or part of the income is put back into a fund, the amount continues to grow.
The fund honoring Johnson’s father supports youth activities in the town of Romney and contributes each year to expenses at the swimming pool.
“The great thing about it is we’re planting seeds now we may not see come to fruition, but someone down the road will benefit from it,” Johnson says.
Hyers cautions that income from the foundation funds will vary with the market: a $5,000 investment might yield $250, or it might not. However, as part of the earnings go back into the fund, the money will keep on coming, and it will continue to grow.
Organizations can benefit too. Hyers was instrumental in setting up the Slanesville Presbyterian Angel Fund, with the church taking distributions from the fund each year and making its own decisions on their use.
For many other funds, an area of interest on which money is to be spent is specified, and the foundation uses a competitive process to award it, evaluating applications received from groups in the community.
The $5,000 requirement (built up over 5 years) to set up a fund was set to make the process affordable, Hyers says. Other community foundations require twice as much.
Contributions need not be money. The foundation will accept donations of real estate or valuable items like jewelry – though such donations must then be sold and converted to cash.
The Hampshire County Community Foundation is a 501c3 charity, and is regulated by the IRS, which requires the sale of such assets, as well as requiring auditing to make sure all funds are spent as intended.
Contributions to all existing funds, including the one supporting Warm the Children, or to a general Community Impact Fund are welcome, as are inquiries about setting up new funds.
Interested people should call Hampshire County Community Fund Director Amy Pancake at 304-822-7200, or email her at apancake@EWVCF.org.