Endowments keep park going

Ryan Keller of Columbiana County takes maternity photos of niece Kiarra Keller at the silver suspension bridge in Mill Creek Park last month.

YOUNGSTOWN — Icons abound while driving through Mill Creek MetroParks.

Some examples: the lily pond, the covered bridge at Lanterman’s Mill and the silver suspension bridge, also known as the Cinderella Bridge.

To help give more than 15 so-called icons around the park official names, Chris Litton, development director, has helped organize an endowment program.

“Endowments can take in any dollar amount,” Litton said. “That dollar amount stays whole in perpetuity.”

Large-dollar gifts, such as $250,000 and above, are when naming opportunities become available.

Funding from the landmarks will go into a general endowment fund, which would finish capital improvements at Ford Nature Center, Litton said.

About $300,000 remains in the center’s campaign balance.

Over the last several months, Litton has met with more than 120 financial planners and estate planners to give an overview of what people can do with stocks, property and insurance.

Leaving or making a gift to an endowment isn’t designated for weathy people, Litton said. “It could be just about anything.”

In the last year, four transfers of property bequests have taken place, Litton said.

One of those who has donated is Canfield resident Mike Senchak, president and chief executive officer of the Mahoning Valley Hospital Foundation.

Senchak explained that when it came time for the foundation to give money back to the community, it was decided that for the health and wellness aspect, the golf courses in Mill Creek would receive $300,000 for an endowment.

“We just felt that the golf courses … were a great place for exercise,” Senchak said.

Additionally, the golf courses are great for folks to spend time together, as well as teach children and grandchildren the game, such as what he’s been doing with his 9-year-old granddaughter.

Growing up on the West Side of Youngstown, Senchak said the park has held a special place for him as he used to ice skate on Lake Glacier, then took his children and now his granddaughter there for various activities.

The endowment is in perpetuity, which means the amount of money or value will stay at that amount forever.

Litton said that is a fact that resonates with those who give to the park.

“People we’ve talked with who have contributed over the last three years since we’ve launched the fund appreciate that the money stays whole and will always be there to take care of the park,” Litton said.

A once-popular gifting option was memorial benches, Litton said. The lifespan of a bench, however, is about 20 years.

Due to the cost of purchasing, installing and maintaining memorial benches, the park discontinued the program in 2018.

For Senchak and his team at the foundation, being able to give back to the park is a great feeling.

“It’s a wonderful feeling because you now you are helping somebody else,” Senchak said, adding: “The Mahoning Valley Hospital Foundation endowment for the golf course will be around forever.”

Naming rights for grabs


Mill Creek Preserve

Mill Creek Sanctuary

Covered Bridge at Lanterman’s Mill


East Newport hike and bike

East Cohasset hike and bike

Lake Glacier boathouse


Long mall — Fellows Riverside

North Terrace — Fellows Riverside

South Terrace — Fellow Riverside

Slippery Rock Pavilion

Bears Den Cabin

Birch Hill Cabin

Wall Garden

Yellow Creek Lodge


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