Giving Back, Close to Home

Stephen and Betty Purtell both grew up in families of modest means, but they did well in life. In 1959 Steve started building his business, a Manpower employment agency in Binghamton. Betty joined the firm in the 1970s.

Stephen and Betty PurtellHard work earned the Purtells a more than comfortable living. In 1996 they sold their business and got ready to move full time to Florida.

Just because the Purtells planned to head south, however, didn't mean they planned to leave their home town behind.

"We were able to make some money, and we made it in this community," Betty explains. "So we felt that we needed to give back at least some portion of that to help the community."

Steve contacted the Community Foundation and arranged a bequest to establish the Stephen J. and Betty E. Purtell Fund. He felt it was important to take that step before the couple left Binghamton, Betty says. "When you move away from a community, it gets easy to forget that that's where you made your money and that's where you spent most of your life." The Purtells had no intention of forgetting their home town.

They chose to work with the Community Foundation because they trusted the organization. "We didn't have any doubt that the money would be used appropriately," says Betty.

The Purtells created their fund to help young people through high school age. "We've always been interested in the education of youth," Betty notes.

They have more than once backed up that interest with generous action. After Steve's mother passed away, he established a scholarship at Penn State University, his alma mater, in her memory. And rather than sell their home before moving to Florida, the Purtells donated the property to the Children's Home in Binghamton. Creating a Field of Interest fund with the Community Foundation would allow them to further pursue their philanthropic interests.

Steve died in February 2009, and the fund that he and Betty created was fully funded in October of that year. In fall 2010 the Community Foundation will start making grants from the Stephen J. and Betty E. Purtell Fund. Through Steve's bequest, he and Betty will remain a generous force for good in their home community for many years to come.

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