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A foundation to build on for years to come

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

With its stately Roman-esque columns, the home of Henry County Community Foundation stands tall along Ind. 3. But the real “building” is seen in multiple locations outside New Castle, touching virtually every small community in every direction.

Thursday morning, the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp. board of directors heard first-hand about the foundation, its work and its positive influence from Beverly Matthews, the organization’s executive director.

“The foundation touches everybody’s life in this room and in this community,” Matthews said. 

Established in 1985, the Henry County Community Foundation, Matthews explained, is a non-profit organization that does not provide direct services, but gathers resources to create permanent funds that pay back out to non-profits.

“Dollars that are donated to the Foundation are not spent but, instead, invested to create an annual income every year forever,” Matthews said. “As the endowment grows, the annual payouts increase and the principal remains protected for continued growth and larger disbursements in the future.”

The investments in 399 permanent funds and more than 30 non-permanent funds have created a powerful ally for Henry County causes. Matthews said the endowment has been averaging $40 million over the past few months. That’s what creates the difference-making magic for Henry County.

“Last year, we paid out almost $1.5 million in total grants back to Henry County,” Matthews said.

The big numbers might make some think the foundation is just “a rich person’s club.” Nothing could be further from the truth, Matthews said.

“Contrary to what a lot of people think, the foundation is not a rich man’s or rich person’s club,” Matthews said. “It takes all of us together. Eighty percent of our donors give $100 or less a year. And that makes a huge difference.”

From the dramatic transformation of the Arts Park, a former dilapidated lumber yard in downtown New Castle, to the rise of Ivy Tech Community College on Ind. 3 – a facility that’s grown faster than the Muncie campus – the Henry County Community Foundation’s fingerprints are everywhere.

The Henry County YMCA, the New Castle Career Center, the Aquatics Center at Baker Park, and HOPE Initiative are other key beneficiaries of the Foundation’s philanthropic efforts.

But Matthews said philantrophy is a lot more than money.

“It’s strategic giving, expertise, strategy, collaboration and persistence to make sure investments in people, places and issues create lasting benefits for the public good,” she said.

Just as few places in Henry County are untouched by the foundation, so, too, are few age groups. The Foundation works with a wide spectrum of demographics, and encourages young people to join the world of philanthropy.

Through its “Teens About Serving Henry County” (T.A.S.C.) force, students from each school district work together and learn about how giving can solve problems. Each year, this group is given $16,000 to allocate toward a special need they discuss, debate and decide upon.

Other key contributions, Matthews said, include lifeguard certification at Baker Pool, renovated basketball courts at Baker Park, $50,000 for preschool development through HOPE Initiative and an additional $10,000 to the same group to study opioid addiction.

“We’ve also helped the local Purdue Extension Office, the Saddle Club, the Middletown Church of the Nazarene preschool playground area, the Knightstown trail and canoe project,” Matthews said.

Currently, Matthews said the Foundation was working closely with the Stellar project and the Henry County Expo Center.

“Progress can only move at the speed of trust,” Matthews said. “We want you to trust us. Together, we can go a lot farther.”

For more information on the Henry County Community Foundation, visit www.henrycountycf.org.