Resident’s generosity leaves lasting effect on community

We live in an incredibly generous community. Lives are changed by those who give, regardless if gifts are made in the form of time, talent or treasures.

Many times, these philanthropists are very unassuming individuals who were raised in humble beginnings. Such was the case with Dorothy.

On a cold day in January 1948, Dorothy Helfenberger and her family moved from Pendleton to Buck Creek Township in Hancock County. Her parents purchased a 74-acre farm at county roads 200N and 600W, property that is now consumed by the interchange at Mt. Comfort Road and Interstate 70.

In a letter she wrote to her niece in 1997, she recalls her parents’ love of farming and how their cows and chickens provided milk, eggs and meat on the table.

In 1961, her father sold 22,482 dozen eggs at 36 cents per dozen, and Dorothy shares her relief that they had finally purchased an egg washer.

Her father’s determination to farm, despite a hunting accident at the age of 14, may have inspired the adult Dorothy to establish a Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT) using a portion of the farm’s value.

In 1998, Dorothy defined the beneficiary of the CRUT through the establishment of an endowment fund at the Hancock County Community Foundation, named for her and her husband, which included a planned gift provision of 40 percent to the foundation for unrestricted benefit of Hancock County.

In addition, the foundation administers perpetual, annual grants to those nonprofit organizations named in the The Walter and Dorothy R. Helfenberger Charitable Endowment Fund. They include the American Bible Society; Salvation Army; Wheeler Mission Ministries; New Hope Christian Church; and St. Labre Indian School.

More than 95 percent of St. Labre Indian School’s Native American students qualify for free or reduced lunches. Located in one of the most economically disadvantaged areas of the Unites States — Ashland, Montana — St. Labre Indian School reported that their 2014 grant helped provide school transportation for their 750 students, as well as, 1,400 hot meals per day.

“I cannot find the words to express my appreciation and gratitude for Dorothy’s incredible gesture of generosity. I hope an honest and simple ‘thank you’ will suffice,” wrote Curtis Yarlott, executive director.

Dorothy’s Charitable Remainder Unitrust matured in 2011 when she passed two days before her 100th birthday.

Dorothy is a wonderful example of a caring citizen who loved living in Hancock County and chose to make an investment in its future by endowing her generosity.

The foundation administers charitable grants on behalf of caring people, whether their passions lie close to home or as far away as Montana.

Mary Gibble is president of the Hancock County Community Foundation, which has granted more than $10 million since its inception in 1992.

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Noelle Steele is editor of the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3232 or nsteele@greenfieldreporter.com.