Spirit of Giving: Wortman foundation doles out $300,000 in grants

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A child named Kenya snuggles up to a horse during an Agape Equine Assisted Learning group last August. The horse-focused organization was among a number of Hancock County nonprofits to receive grants from the Wortman Family Foundation this month.

HANCOCK COUNTY — The Wortman Family Foundation continues to make a big impact throughout the community the family has long called home.

On Feb. 1, it was announced that the family foundation awarded more than $300,000 in grants to 21 organizations throughout Hancock and Shelby counties.

According to the Blue River Community Foundation, which administers the family fund, the Wortman foundation’s mission is to honor the legacy of Bob and Sue Wortman by supporting community needs in Hancock and Shelby counties, with an emphasis on community enhancements in the areas of art, recreation and beautification, with initiatives in education and health taking precedence.

Eight organizations in Hancock County were among those to reap the benefits of the family’s kindness this grant cycle, including Agape Therapeutic Riding Resources, Firefly Children and Family Alliance, Greenfield Central School Foundation, Hancock County Children’s Choir, Love INC of Greater Hancock County, Mt. Vernon Education Foundation, and Shares, Inc.

In addition to the competitive grants, the Wortman foundation announced it will continue supporting three community initiatives with annual gifts over the next four years, including the Hancock Health Foundation’s programming for mental health and addiction services, in addition to two Shelby County programs.

The foundation’s advisory board convened in January to evaluate the latest 32 requests for funding.

Ginny Brown, executive director for the Greenfield Central School Foundation, was among those thrilled to receive a grant this year.

“We are so honored to receive funds from the Wortman family foundation, an organization that will do great things for this community forever. Bob Wortman is a true philanthropist and we should all aspire to be like him,” she said.

Brown said the school foundation will use its most recent grant to help meet teachers’ needs submitted through the foundation’s educational enrichment grants last year.

“We had $50,000 requested from teachers but were only able to fund $33,000 of those requests, leaving a shortfall of $17,000 in unfunded classroom needs. Our grant request was to help us meet that shortfall, so we are thrilled to be able to do even more this year,” she said.

Joanna Crump, director of finance for the Hancock County Children’s Choir, was also excited to hear the choir had received a grant this year.

The grant will be used to support the choir’s financial assistance program, which ensures all children are able to participate in the program regardless of socio-economic status. Crump said the program covers up to 100% of registration, tuition, uniforms and concert meals for participating families.

Part of the grant will also be used to help cover venue fees for choir performances.

Love In the Name of Christ of Greater Hancock County will use its grant to implement a new series of financial literacy classes — Faith & Finances by the Chalmers Center — through the nonprofit’s transformation ministry.

Participating families, staff, and volunteers share a meal at the beginning of each class, which includes free childcare.

“We are excited to launch the Faith & Finances class without any cost to the participants, and so very thankful to have the support of the Wortman Family Foundation,” said Love INC’s executive director, Debra Weber. “Their support demonstrates care and compassion for families who want to take the next steps to transform their financial situations and reduce future dependency on community assistance.”

Stephanie Amick said the Agape therapeutic riding program in Greenfield will use its grant to introduce a new equine-assisted learning program, although details are not yet finalized.

“Right now we’ve got a couple partners in mind but nothing completely set in stone,” said Amick, the nonprofit’s executive director.

“It would entail a group of individuals — school kids or adults — coming out to the barn and doing a 90-minute lesson over the course of an 8-10 week curriculum where they explore different character traits or skills sets, using the horses to help facilitate the learning,” she said.

The course could focus on exceptional learners, those with different abilities and mental health challenges, or those working through trauma, recovery or grief.

“We are so delighted and thankful to the Wortman foundation for helping us continue to expand our impact,” Amick said.