Looking Out for Animal Companions

Many organizations help people in need, but resources for animals are more scarce. That's why Jim and Carol Fish decided to create the Kerby Fund, a donor advised fund focused on animal welfare.

Jim and Carol FishJim and Carol met in the late 1970s while attending graduate school at Binghamton University. Both transplants to Broome County, they're now firmly part of the community. Jim taught chemistry at Broome Community College for many years, and Carol worked as a psychologist for the Binghamton City Schools.

They're both long-time animal lovers. "We always had a dog in our family when I was growing up," Carol says. But her father allowed just one at a time. In her teens, Carol declared that when she grew up, she would always have as many dogs as she wanted "And I did," she says.

Jim's childhood home, on a main road in Gloversville, N.Y., became a haven for rescued cats. "People who didn't want them, while they were driving out of town would just open the door, and we wound up with them," he says.

When it came time to update their will, the Fishes knew that they wanted to continue supporting organizations such as the Chenango SPCA. But they weren't sure what form their philanthropy should take.

Someone suggested that they should consider the Community Foundation. Staff there proposed that the Fishes conduct a trial run with the Foundation. "The object was to see if it was a good fit, and if they operated in a way that we approved of," Carol says.

So in 2008, Jim and Carol established the Kerby Fund. Named for an exceptional shepherd mix who once lived with them, the fund provides ongoing aid to: the Chenango SPCA in Norwich to help low-income pet owners pay for veterinary care; the Front Street Dog Shelter in Binghamton for general assistance; and the Animal Care Council in Endicott to support its spay and neuter program. The Kerby Fund also has given some one-time grants, including assistance to the Broome County Humane Society for recovery after the flood of September 2011.

Pleased with the experiment, the Fishes have made the Kerby Fund the beneficiary in their will. They appreciate the chance to make a significant impact on an issue that's important to them, in their own back yard.

"We've lived here for over 30 years," Carol says. "This is home. It's nice to think that our money will stay here."

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