Most everyone enjoys being invited to a birthday party. Recently that’s just what happened when the Tucker Community Foundation celebrated its 25th birthday by inviting area press to a dinner, informational session and, of course, birthday cake!
Tucker Community Foundation is a 501c3 charitable entity that manages funds for local use. In spite of its name, TCF takes in eight different counties, namely- Tucker, Barbour, Grant, Preston, Pocahontas, Randolph, Mineral, and Garrett (MD). It is one of an estimated 750 Community Foundations in the United States, and one of about 30 in West Virginia. West Virginia Foundations make up about 266 Billion dollars of the national 57 Trillion in assets that these foundations control.
Tucker County (and surrounding area) faces the same dilemma as many other rural communities- outside entities often own or control precious assets involving our natural resources, i.e… forests, land, water, and mineral rights. Fifty-three percent of our county is owned by the state or federal government and subject to PILT. Twenty-eight percent of our county is subject to reduced taxation (agricultural and timber) leaving only nineteen percent to carry the county. The taxes generated often barely support the infrastructure of a county and that’s where a foundation steps up. Foundation funds support local programs, projects, and passions of the people who live here or love it here.
While grant monies from federal, state and other entities are a wonderful thing, they can often be unpredictable, inflexible, time intensive, and only a short term fix. Community foundations such as TCF look toward long-term community investment with the goal of lessening our dependence on state and federal grants.
Tucker Community Foundation held its first meeting in the fall of 1989 and became officially established in early 1990. Four people with a vision came together. Sarah Minear, Jana Kinkaid, Dr. Richard Goldman, and Tom Cain persevered in spite of being discouraged by both regional and national foundations. They were told it would never take root in our rural community but they underestimated the residents and fans of Tucker County. With a humble $1,000 Tucker Community Foundation began and twenty-five years later now has total endowments of around 20 million. This means that currently the TCF has $193 of endowment per person of area served. Notably the largest foundation in the world, The New York Area Trust, has only $245 per person in their service area. Not bad for a rural community foundation that may never have happened if the founders had listened to the “nay-sayers”.
Despite the economic environment of our country, Director Rob Burns noted that in the last year the general endowment fund is up 20 percent and the Harman Endowment fund is up 10 percent. This year will be the first time the Foundation will be giving away one million dollars in a one year time!
How does this happen and where does it come from? People like you and me donate. All investments are perpetual. If you give ten dollars today it’s still there 100 years from now. All monies are pooled then the finance committee along with the trust department at the bank invest the monies conservatively. Of an eight percent return , five percent of that is distributed to local causes and the other three percent is re-invested .
Don’t think any of this applies to you personally? You might want to rethink that. There are approximately eighty-eight different entities, organizations, etc. right here in our area that benefit in some way from the foundation, everything from scholarships, cemeteries, parks, EMS squads, creative arts, youth organizations, libraries, churches, the needy, the list goes on and on.
Diane Hinkle of the Tucker Community Foundation cited: “Our mission is creating opportunities for the communities we serve. Every dollar makes a difference. We weren’t founded with a huge donation, for fifteen years we struggled for every dollar.”
If you want to invest in a brighter today or help plan for the future of this area that we all love so much you can donate to an existing endowment or even consider starting a new fund. To contact someone for information call the foundation office: 304-478-2930 or 304-259-5008. For more information go to: tuckerfoundation.net or check them out on FaceBook at Tucker CommFound.