Special Funds: Giving in Your Own Way

When you open a special fund with the Community Foundation, you chart your own course as a philanthropist. You might create the fund to honor someone you have loved or admired. You’ll focus your support on an issue that speaks to your heart, and you’ll build for the long term, assured that the good you do today will continue into the future.
Here are some recent examples:

Tribute to a Musical Treasure

Duane R. Skrabalak

One of our newest special funds is the Duane R. Skrabalak Memorial Award in Music Fund. Family, friends and colleagues of Duane Skrabalak—former artistic director at Binghamton’s Tri–Cities Opera (TCO)—created the fund to award a scholarship each year to an outstanding music student who is graduating from Johnson City High School, Skrabalak’s alma mater.

“Duane was totally dedicated to the education, training and coaching of young artists,” says Roger Hartman, a former singer at the TCO who also served for a time as its executive director. That makes the fund a fitting tribute.

To get things started, Hartman and two other community members, Joanne Ardune and Barb Van Atta, solicited donations via an extensive mail campaign, personal appeals and a memorial concert. The fund was officially established in the spring of 2015.

The Skrabalak Fund will make its second award to a Johnson City student, picked by faculty, in 2016. “We want the chosen students to realize how special they are,” says Ardune, who also sang at the TCO and worked on its staff. “We want to support their studies, and we hope that one day we’ll be funding the next Duane Skrabalak.”

Passing Along the Love

Lee Shepherd created the Ida Anne Lipshultz Madrigal Choir of Binghamton Fund to honor the memory of her mother, a gifted violinist.

Shepherd was just three, living in Rochester, when her mother enrolled her in a music appreciation class at the Eastman School. Years of musical education followed. “She gave me her love of music, which has been a joy to me my whole life,” Shepherd says.

When Lipshultz died in 2010, after years of frugal living, she left an inheritance that Shepherd decided to put to work for others. “I wanted to keep her memory alive and remind people what music can mean in life—something that parents can give to their children.” So she created a fund to support the Madrigal Choir.

Shepherd joined the Madrigal Choir several years ago. “It’s the area’s best elite choir, made up of amateurs in the best sense—people who get together to make music because they love it,” she says. Each year, the fund will distribute a sum that the Choir can use as its leaders think best—perhaps to award a scholarship, or commission a piece of music. “This will give them a bit of freedom to imagine what they would like to do—some extras for the community and for the choir as well.”

Creature Comforts

Dr. Anthony Trusso practiced medicine in Broome County for 30 years. An animal lover, he adopted several dogs and cats in his lifetime, and he wanted an ongoing way to provide for the welfare of animals.

In 2011, Trusso opened the Tipper Fund, named for a beloved dog. Trusso died in 2014, and in the following year his estate fully funded the Tipper Fund, allowing it to make its first grants.

The Tipper Fund provides for dogs and cats housed at three rescue organizations, the Broome County Humane Society, the Animal Care Council and the Society for the Promotion of Education in Animal Kindness (SPEAK). Each year, the fund gives an equal sum to each of the three organizations, to be used directly to benefit the animals.

During his life, Trusso worked with his financial advisor to craft the fund in a very specific way. The three organizations may spend their grants on food, toys and medical expenses, including vaccinations and medications, but not on office or administrative expenses.

Trusso had a clear philanthropic vision. In collaboration with the Community Foundation, he made that vision both real and lasting.

Close to Home

Walton Theater

The Paul G. and Miriam B. Mattern Fund honors the memories of two long-time residents of Walton, N.Y. Established in 2013 by the Matterns’ children, the fund makes several small grants each year, totaling up to $5,000, for projects that enrich the lives of Walton residents.

A committee of people who live or work in Walton reviews applications and makes the awards. Among other projects, the fund has supported a summer art program for children at a village park, a performance for children at the Walton Theatre and two backpack programs, which send students from needy families home from school with nutritious food for the weekend.

“It’s just for Walton—that’s what I love about it,” says committee member Sally Cranston, former director of Walton’s William B. Ogden Free Library. “The Mattern family always did a lot for the community, and this is a way to keep it going.”

David Mattern, one of Paul and Miriam’s children, is pleased with the grants, and pleased that a local committee is making the decisions. He remembers how his father used to stress the importance of community engagement. “People have to look out for the community, and for each other,” he says. The Mattern Fund honors that spirit.

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