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LAWRENCE COUNTY Group promotes philanthropy



Published: Thu, September 26, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The foundation already has four member funds with assets totaling about $5 million.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Some Lawrence County residents think everyone can be a philanthropist and they've created a nonprofit foundation to help them do it.

The Lawrence County Foundation was unveiled Thursday at the New Castle Public Library, and its president, Atty. David E. Henderson, said it will help improve and strengthen the quality of life within the region by encouraging philanthropy.

The new foundation already has four member funds: The Almira Foundation, the Laurel Community Foundation, the Robbie Green Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Gale Mansell Scholarship Fund.

It's got assets totaling almost $5 million so far, Henderson said.

About foundation

The foundation is a public, nonprofit, charitable organization designed to attract and invest permanent endowment resources that can be used by donors to leave a lasting legacy in their community, he said.

All gifts are fully tax-deductible, he said.

It's modeled after the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Shenango Valley Foundation, headquartered in Sharon, and will be run by a board of directors with help from a community advisory board.

It also will make use of some expertise in the field, naming the Rev. Larry Haynes, director of the Shenango Valley Foundation, as its executive director.

Haynes will run both foundations, although the Lawrence Community Foundation will maintain its own office in the offices of the Almira Foundation at 1001 E. Washington St.

Restricted spending

Henderson said all four member funds are restricted in how their money can be spent. Any unrestricted gifts given directly to the Lawrence Community Foundation itself can be dispersed by a decision of the board, however, he said.

Haynes said the Shenango Valley Foundation started in 1981 with just a few thousand dollars but has grown to serve as an umbrella and clearinghouse for more than 120 separate charitable funds with total assets that will reach about $20 million by the end of the year.

The Shenango Valley Foundation has given $7 million to the community during its lifetime and is at the point where its disbursements are averaging about $1 million annually, Haynes said.

Most of that is "donor-advised," he said, explaining that most donors have specific plans for their contributions.

Henderson said the Lawrence Community Foundation also will serve as an umbrella agency for local charitable funds which will remain as separate entities, controlling their own finances.

"Even people with limited means can give money to their community," he said, noting the foundation will accept gifts starting at $1,000. Someone wanting to start a fund needn't contribute the full $1,000 up front but can pay that amount over a period of time.

It's a fitting way to honor a loved one and create a permanent legacy that will be remembered for generations, Henderson added.

gwin@vindy.com




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