Monday, November 21, 2011

Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin Receives $4 Million Gift


The Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin has received a nearly $4 million gift, the largest single donation the nonprofit has received in its 30-year history.

Stevens Point resident Arthur Heinz gave the foundation the gift as part of his estate. Heinz died in May at age 83.

The foundation also received a nearly $60,000 gift from the late Helen Godfrey, who died in September.

Godfrey's gift will be split among three foundation funds: the Community Fund, Green Circle and The Women's Fund.

Godfrey was a former administrator at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and a community philanthropist. She was a member of the foundation's board for 15 years.

"She was a special person to our community and to us," said Terry Rothmann, foundation executive director.

Heinz, who retired to Stevens Point in 1995, stipulated that the foundation cannot use the $4 million directly, but can use the interest, dividends and investment income to award grants.

Rothmann estimated that Heinz's gift could put $150,000 a year back into the community forever.

Each year, the foundation gives money back to the community in the form of grants from its more than 200 funds.

Heinz's gift can be used for a variety of grants related to the foundation's mission, which includes helping people, enhancing education, enriching arts and culture, contributing to wellness and improving the environment. Rothmann said the Purple Heart recipient historically gave to six charities, including four locally: the Humane Society of Portage County, Operation Bootstrap, The Salvation Army and Ministry Saint Michael's Hospital.

Pete Taggatz of Stevens Point met Chicago-born Heinz in the mid-1980s. Heinz was fond of central Wisconsin, and as a young adult worked on a farm in Buena Vista. He was a lifelong Packers fan.

"The central Wisconsin area really became more home to him in his heart than Chicago," Taggatz said.

Taggatz said Heinz, a self-described "fiscal conservative," was a great saver and never lived beyond his means.

Cindy Solinsky, who lived next to Heinz for 15 years, said Heinz was a very caring and loving man, who was like a surrogate grandfather to Solinsky and her three daughters.

"He totally believed in helping people out," Solinsky said.

Solinsky said Heinz told her, "Cindy, I'm giving my money to the poor," knowing it would help people in central Wisconsin.

Rothmann said the foundation will begin allocating money from the Arthur E. Heinz Charitable Fund in 2013. It is the foundation's 210th fund.

Both gifts come at a time when the foundation expects to see an increase in the number of grant requests because of the weak economy and loss of local and state government funding.

In 2010, the foundation had 42 grant applications. In 2011, it saw 35, but eight of them were new applicants, Rothmann said.

Amy Eddy, foundation president, said some applications are funded in full while others receive only partial funding.

Eddy said the foundation might be able to fully fund more grants in the coming years, thanks to gifts from Godfrey and Heinz.

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