Compassionate Actions...Your Legacy

Compassionate Actions...Your Legacy
by William L. Bulla

"The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." These are the words of the late Coretta Scott King.
These compassionate actions are reflected in the work of the Community Foundation of Washington County. It is a nonprofit community corporation encouraging philanthropy as a vehicle to bring positive change to enrich the quality of life in our county. Their motto rings true: "Your Legacy. For Good. For Ever."
The Greek word, "philanthropy", means "love for mankind." The act of philanthropy is more than just handing out money-- it's a way of touching someone's life. It is a way to accomplish great achievements in our world.
Many of these great achievements are being accomplished in Washington County. They are being achieved through the Community Foundation's donors as they make a lasting gift to the community.
Since 1996, with just one fund and nine thousand dollars, the Foundation has grown to 135 funds and just under eleven million dollars in assets today. The Community Foundation serves as a hub for charitable giving in Washington County by providing a convenient and flexible tool for individuals, families, businesses or groups who want to give something permanent back to their communities. Funds can be named for their purpose, for their donor, or as memorials. The funds are classified into several types.
* Community Funds address the community's needs while promising opportunities relating to arts and culture, education, health care, human services, environment, and historic preservation. Active members of the community who serve on the Board of Trustees' Grants Allocation Committee selects grant recipients.
* Field of Interest Funds support a donor's preference to support one or more areas of interest such as the arts, education or services for the needy. These gifts are not tied to a particular organization.
* Designated Funds specify one or more organizations to receive annual or periodic distributions of the net total return.
* Donor Advised Funds establish endowment funds that allow donors to remain actively involved in recommending grants over a period of time.
* Non-Endowed Donor Advised Funds allow contributions to be made to the Foundation at donor's convenience, with the option of allocating the principal and interest to charities over time.
* Scholarship Funds established by donors are for the benefit of local students.
* Agency Funds allow nonprofit organizations to establish an endowment fund to support its on-going operations.
The Community Foundation's Executive Director Bradley N. Sell expressed the Foundation's purpose: "We're a conduit for the people of Washington County to pass their money on to a needy cause. We don't have an agenda in terms of what segment of the community it helps. That's for the donors to decide. Our goal is to promote charitable giving."
Examples of Donor Choices
One example is the Avery Snyder Memorial Fund for Big Brothers Big Sisters. This fund was established when Avery died at age 6, from a tragic fall while exploring just beyond his own back yard. Avery pursued scouting, bicycles, swimming, karate, baseball and all other activities 6-year old boys find attractive. He was so fortunate to have both parents involved in his life, unlike many of the children of Big Brothers Big Sisters. His family wanted to remember Avery in a way that honored children, so they established this fund to provide summer camp opportunities to needy children being served by this agency. "Life should be fun when you're a little child...no worries...no fears...just simple fun," said Avery's mother, Mary Snyder. Each year, The Avery Snyder Memorial Campership Award is presented to a Little Brother and Little Sister at the agency's Picnic/Swim Party. The 2005 awards went to Little Brother Andre Pierre and Little Sister Tia Carpenter. These awards provided the children with a positive camp experience when they attended three weeks at Antietam Recreation Camp last summer.
Another fund established in the memory of a child is the Henry Atwell Finn Fund. Henry was an active, loving child that lost his life to a SIDS-like disorder at the age of 16 months. It was a tragedy that touched many lives. He continues to touch those lives, and in his memory family and friends created a Donor Advised Fund. This fund will benefit research and other programs related to infant and toddler death. Rather than narrow the field to just one agency, Henry's parents will decide each year where the income and earnings from this fund will be directed. This fund was established with the hope that it will make a difference in the life of another toddler.
The Women's Giving Circle is an example of an endowed Donor Advised Fund. It was established to support innovative programs that address issues facing women and families in Washington County. These donors approach their mission through "giving and going." The "going" consists of field trips to area nonprofits to get a first hand look and feel for the community's needs. The "giving" provides grants to help meet those needs. In 2004 to Girl's, Inc. and Hagerstown Community College's Job Training Institute received funding to support programs that improve the life skills of women of all ages in the county. In 2005, the Circle granted $5,000 for various programs addressing the physical and psychological wellbeing of women and their families.
Some of the Recipients
From the unrestricted Community Funds, the Foundation's Board of Trustees approved the Grants Allocation Committee's recommendations to award $25,429 in grants to area nonprofits who met this year's non-restricted granting program. Girl's Incorporated was awarded $9,720 to support "Kid-ability," a self-protection program for children that teaches the skills, attitudes, and behaviors essential for preventing victimization or exploitation.
Interfaith Service Coalition was granted $6,000 to support "Adventure in Friendship" This is a week-long summer camp opportunity for middle-school age youth who are often alone at homes, especially in the summer months. It teaches them a wide array of basic life and safety skills such as nutrition, household emergencies, CPR, and a knowledge of police, fire, and rescue services.
W House of Hagerstown Foundation, Inc. received $6,000 to facilitate a parenting skills program for recovering women whose children are in kinship or foster care. The program addresses the wide variety of skills needed for mothers recovering from substance abuse to be healthy parents.
Mason-Dixon Boy Scout Council received $3,709 to fund a youth protection/child abuse program. The course educates the child and the parent how to avoid, recognize or deal with abuse in a proactive manner.
People's Choice Award Winners
For five years, the Foundation has presented three People's Choice Awards (PCA) to individuals in the community who exemplify the term "Unsung Heroes." In addition to this honor, the recipients are asked to name a nonprofit for which the Foundation will establish a $5,000 endowment fund in their name.
Hugh Brandenburg, an eighty-year-old who began his volunteer career at Western Maryland Hospital in 1981, accumulated over 40,000 hours to the Center. As a photographer, he shares his talents, such as being fluent in several languages, with patients, staff and other volunteers. He has chosen to honor the Western Maryland Hospital Auxiliary with his endowment fund.
For over twenty years, John Long has spent countless hours, including every weekend, giving tours to children and adults, telling railroading stories, and sharing the history of the railroad in Hagerstown and Western Maryland at the Railroad Museum in City Park. Mr. Long, 89, is the person credited as being the most responsible for the creation and maintenance of the Railroad Museum. He is paid by the city, but generously donates his salary back to the city to buy artifacts for the museum, and has contributed more than $10,000 of his own money. Humane Society of Washington County receives his endowment fund.
Rollan "Ron" Myers has had a major impact on countless persons with developmental disabilities since his first involvement with ARC of Washington County in 1973. Ron has served on the Board of ARC since 1980, serving two terms as president and chairperson for numerous events and committees. He has also served on the Board of Directors of ARC of Maryland, the Hagerstown/Washington County Chamber of Commerce, Regional Airport Commission, Hagerstown Community College Alumni Association, and the Presbyterian Church of Hagerstown. ARC of Washington County is the recipient of his endowment fund.
Yes, Ms. King's statement, "The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members," really does apply.
The Community Foundation of Washington County is helping to make a difference in our community. As it continues to grow, even greater impact will be felt in those nonprofit organizations striving to help our community's less fortunate.
To learn more visit the Community Foundation's website at www.hagcomfound.org or call 301-745-5210.