It is not a household name, but the Wilderness Trace Community Foundation has become well known to many area charitable and civic organizations over the last 10 years.
The foundation was started from scratch in 2002 as a way to bring together assets to form an endowment for non-profit organizations in Boyle, Garrard, Lincoln and Mercer counties. Last year, the foundation and its donors gave out 105 grants worth $130,250, and 511 grants totaling about $730,000 have been awarded over the last decade.
The foundation currently has about $2.8 million in committed assets, but board members say the 10th anniversary is a chance to expand the group’s reach and the options for donors even further.
Danville attorney Stephen Dexter, currently vice chairman of the group’s board, said the foundation is now working on a way for people to give to a specific community by establishing endowment funds for each county.
Each county will need to raise $10,000 to set up its fund, and Mercer County, behind the leadership of the foundation’s chairman, Pete Chiericozzi, already has kicked off its campaign by raising more than $25,000, Dexter said. “This is a great way to allow people to support the organizations they love and the people in their county, not just now, but forever,” Dexter said.
Officials in Boyle, Lincoln and Garrard counties also appear to be on board with the idea. As the county-specific funds continue to grow, Dexter said they could become increasingly important for communities.
“So many non-profits depend on at least some city or county funds in their budget, and that is becoming more and more difficult,” Dexter said. “We are seeking to help fill that gap.”
Over the years, the foundation’s grants, which are only taken from interest on the principal contributions and can be restricted by the donor to specific recipients, have gone to groups such as schools, churches and non-profits like the humane society and 4-H. The foundation also maintains individual endowments for groups like Heart of Kentucky United Way.
Paul Elwyn was chairman of the Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce when a group that included him and John Rodes, Shawn Lyons, Richard Trollinger, Basil Turbyrfill and Tom Christopher undertook a two-year feasibility study to see if a community foundation would work locally.
The results of the study showed the best way to move forward would be to assemble a volunteer board to work on developing relationships with donors, while relying on the expertise of the Community Foundation of Louisville, the state’s largest organization of its kind.
The group remains an affiliate of CFL, which continues to handle most of the financial aspects. Elwyn said the board members act as cheerleaders for the concept, telling people about the possibilities and counseling them on their options before turning the business side over to their partners in Louisville.
What started as an idea without any money behind it has grown because of contributions by people such as Jack Freeman and Richard Brown.
The fund started from Brown’s contribution has become the largest unrestricted fund administered by the foundation.
Freeman, a Danville High School graduate, wanted to do something in perpetuity for local students, and his donation has funded numerous scholarships for students in Danville and Boyle County schools.
“That’s what this is all about,” Elwyn said. “They really understood the concept and were people who wanted to do something that would last.”
The founding board members were: Paul Elwyn, chairman; John Rodes, H. Vincent Pennington, James Atkins, Greg Caudill, Tom Christopher, Hugh Coomer, Carol Conover, Jeannette Davis, Norman Hagley, Charles Keiser, David Land, Janie Pass, Leonard Smith, Nancibel Rogers, H.R. Saufley and Alan Turbyfill.
The current board is: Pete Chiericozzi, chairman; Stephen Dexter, vice chairman; Tom Poland, Flem Messer, Paul Elwyn, Jonathan Baker, Pam Sims, Milward Dedman, Jerome Flynn, James Bushnell, Joe Brown and Steve Manning.
SO YOU KNOW
For information about how to contribute, contact:
- In Boyle County: Tom Poland at (859) 236-2926 or email@example.com, or Stephen Dexter at 236-2641 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- In Mercer County: Pete Chiericozzi at email@example.com or (859) 865-1114.
- In Garrard County: Joe Brown, (859) 925-3821 or JoeBrown46@windstream.net.
- In Lincoln County: Jerome Flynn, (606) 305-8130 or Jerome.firstname.lastname@example.org.