Wortman Family Foundation for Shelby and Hancock counties awards more than $200,000 in inaugural grant cycle

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HANCOCK COUNTY — Bob Wortman’s name is synonymous with generosity.

The lifelong Morristown resident has been one of Hancock County’s most impactful philanthropists, helping to create the Sue Ann Wortman Cancer Center at Hancock Regional Hospital in honor of his late wife, Sue.

He also funded the creation of the Sue Ann Wortman Nephrology Center at Major Hospital in Shelbyville.

A number of nonprofits are benefiting from the inaugural round of grants doled out through the Wortman Family Foundation of Hancock and Shelby Counties, an endowed component fund created through the Blue River Community Foundation in Shelbyville last year.

Last week it was announced that more than $200,000 has been awarded to nonprofits in both counties, including five in Hancock County. Those five are Hancock County Children’s Choir, Hancock County Senior Services, Hancock Health Foundation, Nameless Creek Youth Camp, and Purdue Extension of Hancock County.

In late March, Wortman and his board of advisors met to evaluate this year’s 23 grant applications.

When the fund was announced last November, Wortman, who is 90, said it was important to him to continue positively impacting the causes he loves long after he’s gone.

“I want to ensure that I can support the communities that helped to support Sue and our family for so many years – in perpetuity,” he said.

The Wortman fund focuses on community needs with preference given to education and health, but also considers community enhancement efforts in the areas of art, recreation and beautification. Requests benefiting the Morristown community are a priority.

This first round of annual grants totaled over $200,000.

That includes more than $126,000 in annual grants, which total anywhere between $2,500 and $25,000 each.

It also includes $75,000 given this year to three recipients, including Hancock Health Foundation, that will receive $25,000 a year over five years, for a total gift of $125,000 each. The other two recipients are Early Learning Shelby County and the Shelby County Players.

Nancy Davis, executive director of the Hancock Health Foundation, said she was overwhelmed but not at all surprised by Wortman’s continued generosity. His legacy of giving has blessed a number of organizations beyond measure, she said.

“Bob Wortman is such a dear, long-time friend to Hancock Health, always willing to help in any way,” Davis said. “These foundations (like his) provide an immeasurable impact to our community nonprofits by significantly building our capacity to help so many families in our community.”

The Hancock Health Foundation’s gift of $125,000 is designated for its Mental Health and Substance Use Treatment Campaign, which is in the process of raising $3.5 million to increase local resources for substance abuse and mental health care.

Purdue Extension of Hancock County is using its grant money to help fund the “Kindergarten 101” program in Hancock County.

“Kindergarten 101 or K101 is a free week-long program providing incoming kindergarteners with the opportunity to experience a typical school day,” said Mandy Gray, Extension Educator for Health and Human Sciences at Purdue Extension-Hancock County.

“The goal of K101 is to instill a love of learning, reading and excitement about school. The children will become familiar with the library, cafeteria, gym and playground while building social skills,” she said.

Like Davis, Gray said she feels blessed to have so many wonderful organizations like the Wortman Family Foundation that help the local community thrive.

When the Wortman family fund was first introduced last last year, Jennifer Jones, executive director for the Blue River Community Foundation, said it’s been an honor to help Wortman create a fund that will enhance both Shelby and Hancock counties for future generations.

“Bob’s generosity and foresight will guarantee that our nonprofit agencies have a forever source of support to continue their missions of bettering the communities in which they serve,” she said.

Mary Gibble, president of the Hancock County Community Foundation, serves as an advisor to the fund.

“Bob asked that (the foundation) have a permanent seat on the advisory committee to provide insight on Hancock County needs as those needs change over time,” said Gibble, adding that the Wortmans have humbly supported local nonprofits for more than 30 years.

“Bob and Sue have been two of the most generous people both Hancock an Shelby counties have had the privilege to know,” she said.

“The formal establishment of this donor-advised fund, now named the Wortman Family Foundation at the Blue River Community Foundation, is a visionary planning move for a man who wants the legacy of his family’s ability to help others continue in perpetuity.”

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