Volume 4 - History of SCCF: Part II

posted Aug 24, 2016, 11:52 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library   [ updated Oct 20, 2017, 10:48 AM ]
In last week’s article, we talked about the founders of the Starke County Community Foundation (SCCF) and their one goal:  To establish a community foundation in Starke County.

People had tried to do this before, but their efforts never paid off. This team, too, faced doubt.

The founders remember that many people said they wouldn’t get more than 50 or 100 thousand. After all, Starke County is said to be a poor county, so how could anyone raise almost a million dollars?

Our founders were unique because they believed it could happen. Even when their doubters said that a community foundation couldn’t be established, they thought that if you looked hard enough for the good in any community, you’d find it.

Their first milestone was to raise $750,000 to be matched by a percentage by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. In the end, they raised $639,000, just shy of their goal. Lilly matched this money and the ball just kept rolling from there.

Their success exceeded many people’s expectations, including their own; however, Barbara McLaughlin said that it also was not surprising. They knew that it was possible and that even though Starke County isn’t considered a wealthy county, there is money here to be placed in worthwhile endowments.

The founders also appointed their first service committee of volunteer board members. This committee included the founders: Frank Alan, June Binkley, Cherry Gumz, Jim Hardesty, Barbara McLaughlin, and Arlowa Vorm. Other members of the community who joined the team were: Cheryle Ferch, Dr. Walter Fritz, Judge David Matsey, and Charles Weaver. Edward Hasnerl, John Hensler, Judy Jelinek, and Mathew Swanson joined the group soon after.

No one can say our founders weren’t committed to their cause. They often worked up to twenty hours a week as unpaid volunteers. They inspired other community members too. A local individual even made a commitment to endow $100,000 as a challenge to be matched by Dec. 31, 1997.

Originally, the founders talked with people from Pulaski County about establishing the Pulaski-Starke Community Foundation. Rather than starting from scratch, though, they decided to join the Northern Indiana Community Foundation (NICF) in 1996 so they could benefit from working with people who already had experience.

The number of donors and the amount of assets were growing. This brought the Community Foundation success in the Lilly Foundation’s next phase of its GIFT Initiative. The SCCF had to complete Phase II in order to receive Phase III grant money, which would benefit major projects in Starke County.

In October of 1998, the SCCF announced that it had completed Phase II. In this Phase, 27 funds totaling over $700,000 were established. This money was matched with $350,000 by the Lilly Endowment. As a result, $800,000 in grants would come directly from the Lilly Endowment to support special projects. This was huge for Starke County!

The SCCF received more exciting news when the Lilly Endowment announced its Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program. The Lilly Endowment would award full-ride scholarships to students in Indiana, and community foundations would be responsible for the selection process. The first Starke County Lilly Scholar was William Runkle, who received the scholarship in 1998 and attended Valparaiso University.

Join us next week to find out how the Community Foundation evolved over the following years leading to its 20th anniversary!