Funding the Gap - Guest Column

by Ann O’Hara

Legacy Fund seeks out and serves the county’s most pressing needs

Since 2007, I have had the privilege of serving on the Board of Directors of Legacy Fund, Inc., the Hamilton County community foundation. In 2016, the Board awarded more than $500,000 in grants to Hamilton County charitable organizations. While directly impacting Hamilton County, Legacy Fund’s mission and role is not always understood. One of my goals as incoming Chair of the Board of Directors is to raise awareness of Legacy Fund’s strategic focus to the Hamilton County community.

Legacy Fund, Inc. is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) corporation formed in 1989. It is a “community foundation” meaning it is exclusively dedicated to benefit the individuals and their families living in Hamilton County.

Meeting Local Needs

Legacy Fund serves many roles but one of its primary roles is to make grants to nonprofit organizations who also serve the Hamilton County community. Through its Grant Review Committee, the Board annually approves requests for grants from area nonprofit organizations on a quarterly basis. Grant recipients cover a wide range of charitable purposes from the arts to social services.

Legacy Fund also serves as a community leader. The Community Leadership Initiative Committee, which consists of both Legacy Fund Board members and Hamilton County community leaders, identifies pressing issues in the Hamilton County community and develops a plan to address those issues.

In 2009, Legacy Fund funded a grant to the pilot Hamilton County Youth Assistance Program in Westfield. Eight years later, the Program is now established in all of the county’s public school districts and employs Early Intervention Advocates for each school district, who work with the students referred to them to coordinate needed services provided by numerous local individuals, service providers and organizations. The Hamilton County Youth Assistance Program is now a successful and sustainable organization assisting Hamilton County youth and their families.

Serving Seniors

In October of 2016, the Community Leadership Initiative Committee reviewed a variety of issues and voted to move forward with an initiative focused on seniors. The goal of the initiative is for Hamilton County to become a place where our senior residents are well-connected, supported and valued. A request for proposals was distributed to nine senior-serving organizations from various sectors. Ultimately, a request from Shepherd's Center of Hamilton County (“Shepherd’s Center”) was selected.

Shephard’s Center serves seniors in Hamilton County through two main programs: 1) “Together Today,” which invites seniors to gather weekly for fun, education, and social connectivity in Westfield, Fishers, Sheridan, Noblesville and at a central location at Grace Church; and 2) “Community Caring,” which provides services such as cleaning, maintenance, yard work, and transportation to seniors who are homebound and need extra help to remain in their homes.

With assistance from Legacy Fund, the Shepherd’s Center will be creating “Reaching Resources for Hamilton County.” Reaching Resources will serve as a hub of senior resources to all seniors in Hamilton County that fall below the federal Community Development Block Grant Program (“CDBG”) income guidelines. The goal of Reaching Resources is to connect seniors with programs and services to improve their quality of life and help them maintain their independence.

Reaching Resources program coordinators will serve as resource guides, advocates and support for seniors - from initial interview, regular check-ins, and follow-up. Shepherd’s Center will regularly collaborate with organizations such as Meals on Wheels, HAND, Good Samaritan Network, Janus, Trustee’s offices, CICOA, Connect2Help, area churches, senior living and rehabilitation facilities, home safety and modification companies. Shepherd’s Center will be rolling out the Reaching Resources program over the next four years.

Donor Advised Funds

Legacy Fund can also assist individuals carrying out their charitable intentions through the establishment of donor-advised funds (“DAF’s”). An individual donor can create a DAF with Legacy Fund and receive a federal income tax deduction for assets contributed to the DAF. With the input of the donor, Legacy Fund will oversee the investment of assets held in the DAF and make recommendations as to distributions from the DAF to charitable organizations. A benefit of establishing a DAF with Legacy Fund is Legacy Fund’s institutional knowledge and expertise in the Hamilton County community. DAF’s held at Legacy Fund made over $4 million in grants for the 2016 calendar year.

Ann O'Hara I look forward to my term as Chair of the Board of Directors of Legacy Fund. We have made great in-roads in growing Legacy Fund in both asset size and scope of community impact. The 2016 Celebration of Philanthropy Event celebrating Legacy Fund’s 25th anniversary was the best attended since the event’s inception! However, as we all well know, the needs in the Hamilton County community continue and Legacy Fund will be there to face those needs.

Ann O’Hara is an attorney with Ice Miller and the incoming Board Chair of Legacy Fund of Hamilton County.