The Guernsey County Foundation could be described as an “umbrella” for charitable funds benefiting Guernsey County. By leading others to start component funds with the Nelsonville-based Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO), the organization added 14 new funds totaling $190,000 in the past two years.
Guernsey’s new funds are part of FAO’s priority goal to encourage the growth of existing and new charitable resources for the region. In Guernsey County, community leaders and trustees of the Cambridge Foundation partnered with FAO to create the Guernsey County Foundation, a component fund of FAO designated for the benefit of Guernsey County.
With this partnership, the community can collaborate with FAO and the fund’s advisory committee to attract charitable gifts and determine priorities and grants to benefit the area. FAO manages and stewards the fund endowment, acknowledges gifts and supports the community’s efforts to attract new charitable endowment and contributions. The small administrative fee received by FAO for its support is reinvested in tools and resources to help build the culture of giving in Guernsey County and the region.
A prime example of the essential support these funds provide for Guernsey is the Guernsey County Senior Citizen Center. 2007 marks the center’s 35th year of offering an assortment of services and recreational activities to senior citizens aged 60 and older throughout the county. The center can now continue to offer these services for years to come, thanks to an endowment fund with FAO. The fund helps to secure the future of the organization and encourage the growth of the center and its programs. It also allows for donations to be contributed to the agency.
“By creating the fund with the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, we have helped to diminish concern of where our money is going and focus more on the commitment of providing services to senior citizens,” said Shon Gress, executive director of the Guernsey County Senior Citizen Center.
The senior citizen fund is one of more than a dozen component funds of FAO that exist for the benefit of Guernsey County, all of which are supported by the Guernsey County Foundation. The purpose of the family of Guernsey funds is to benefit the economic, cultural and educational climate of the greater Guernsey area by being both a recipient vehicle of financial gifts and a distributor of grants to area organizations that meet gift guidelines. All of the funds for Guernsey County have independent advisory boards.
The Kevin Ritz Family Foundation, started by former Colorado Rockies pitcher and Guernsey County native Kevin Ritz, also holds a donor-advised fund with FAO. The fund supports a number of athletic activities in Guernsey County, including the Little League Challenger Division, a national youth baseball program started in 1998 for mentally and physically disabled players.
“The FAO has been a tremendous help with our donor-advised fund. My wife Sally and I wanted to start a fund that over the years could continue to provide funds for charities that are important to us,” Ritz said. “Leslie and her staff were there to help us through the process and have been just great to work with. It was really important for us when we decided to start The Kevin Ritz Family Foundation that we do it the right way. We have come to rely on the FAO expertise.”
The Rotary Club of Byesville in Guernsey County is another organization that holds a fund with FAO. The rotary is an association of people who work to provide humanitarian services, set a level of standards and give back to their community and the world. Past community service projects the rotary has worked on include: a canned food drive, collaboration with the Salvation Army to provide turkey dinners to more than 130 families, yearly health screenings and the building of a town gazebo.
The future goal of The Rotary Club of Byesville is to be able to provide scholarships to students who want to further their education at Byesville’s Meadowsbrook High School.
“Although we assist with anything the community may need, our goal is to build a foundation for higher education. The [endowment] fund with the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio has helped to advertise our purpose and set us on the path to make a difference,” said rotary member Bill Hartley.
The board of the Guernsey County Foundation is excited about the opportunities for community improvement made possible by the FAO component funds, said Maribeth Wright, president of the Guernsey County Foundation board and a trustee on the FAO board.
“The guidance we have received from the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio has been invaluable,” Wright said. “We could not be where we are today without the help of FAO.”
Funds for the benefit of Guernsey County: Cambridge Foundation, Guernsey County Foundation Fund, McManus-Shepard Fund, Kevin Ritz Family Foundation Fund, Guernsey County Senior Citizen Fund, Leadership Guernsey, Mary Kackley-Brill Scholarship, Blaine and Martha Neilley Scholarship, Winnie Mae Sharpe Education Fund, CHS Class of 1957 Scholarship, Madison High School Alumni Scholarship, Byesville Rotary Fund, Doug Steele Memorial Scholarship, Jenny Cornelius – Woltz Memorial Scholarship, Haven of Hope Endowment Fund, Cambridge Singers Scholarship Fund.