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Archive for December, 2008

He lived for nature on the grandest scale and in the smallest detail.  He was a lover more intense than Thoreau.  Nature surely wept when he was returned to her after an American career and world citizenship of seventy-six years.  The old lover was worn out, dying with work papers scattered across his bed.  Honor now and forever John Muir.

You may wish you could have known him or gone camping with him, although you will have a more nuanced and balanced knowledge of him by reading Donald Worster’s A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir.  He wore out walking shoes, friends, and himself making nature his career and life.

What a treasure we would have lost if there had been a restriction on Scotish imigrants in 1849.  There wasn’t and now his story is a formative part of our national story.  This biography does a good job of pulling it all together in style, a good read.

Muir was a contradictory personality whose flaws morphed into virtues and whose passions morphed into national values.  And during all of this he was usually having a wonderful time.  He endangered his life to find contentment and inspiration.  Go figure.  Charles Marlin

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It pulses through us, we believe it without reservation, still there are those who respond like they are from Missouri.  Show me.  The December 2008 publication by Robert J. Shapiro and Aparna Mathur shows everyone full flag, The Social And Economic Value Of Private And Community Foundations.  You can get a copy online at http://www.philanthropycollaborative.org/

Applying economic analysis to the grants made by foundations of all sizes across the United States, Shapiro and Mathur determine the benefits that accrue from those grants.  “Each dollar of a foundation grant also produces indirect economic benefits by boosting employment and incomes for the beneficiaries of these private and community foundation activities, and new government revenues based on this additional income.  While these indirect benefits also vary substantially across grant areas, we find that the $42.9 billion in foundation support extended in 2007 helped to generate nearly $512 billion in additional household income and some $145 billion in additional government revenues.”

The average estimated return produced by a dollar in grants and support last year was $8.58 in direct, economic  welfare benefits.  The authors broke the benefits into 11 borad, grant areas with multiple examples in each grant area, all from 2007.  In Arts and Culture some $5.2 billion in grants and support generated $51 billion in social and economic benefits for a return on investment (ROI in the publication.) of 9.7:1

Education which included scholarships as well as institutional and research support turned $9.7 billion in grants and support into $49 billion in benefits for a ratio of 5.08:1  For county libraries, considered a part of this broad area, the return ratio was 5.02:1

For Environment and Animals/Wildlife the grants and support totaled $2.57 billion and generated more than $17 billion in benefits with an average ratio of 6.72:1  Four-fifths of the grants were for environmental programs with the remaining going to animals and wildlife.

The Health area covered a very wide range of programs and activities.  Health-related organizations and programs received $9.86 billion and generated $75 billion in benefits.  Hospitals And Medical Care received 21% of the grants as did Public Health.  Medical Research received a 26.4% share.  An average social rate of return was 7.60:1 with examples varying from Treatment for Heart Attack at 1.10:1 to intervention for infants with haemophilus influenzae Type B at 22.99:1

Human Services was divided into eight subcategories of (1) Crime, Justice and Legal Services, (2) Employment, (3) Food, Nutrition and Agriculture, (4) Housing and Shelter, (5) Safety and Disaster Relief, (6) Recreation and Sports, (7) Youth Development, and  8  multipurpose Human Services.  An estimated $5.94 billion was given to Human Services with benefits valued at more than $64.7 billion.  The estimated return on investment was 10.91:1

Public Affairs/Society Benefit divided into (1) Civil Rights and Social Action, (2) Community Improvement and Development, (3) Philanthropy and Voluntarism, and (4) General Public Affairs and Society Benefit.  This area gets big results.  For $4.58 billion given the benefits amounted to $101 billion, giving the category an average 22.04:1 ratio of return on investment.  An Offender Aid And Restoration project produced a ratio of 48.7:1  There is more to be learned about this program at www.oaronline.org

Science and Technology received $1.24 billion and returned $6.13 billion for a ratio of 4.96:1  Some programs in this area could have been placed in the Medical Research subcategory of Health.

International Affairs, Peace, Human Rights received $2.29 billion but there are no scientific metrics to measure the economic or social benefits for many of these programs.  Creating public pressure to relieve the suffering of political prisoners is not a numbers thing.  The authors “assume that these programs yield returns of approximately 1.0:1”  The Social Sciences area presents the same kind of problem as International Affairs, Peace, Human Rights.  Examples are The Aspen Institute, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and the Alliance for Justice, so the area is given a ratio of 1.0:1 for the $581 million given to it.

Finally the last two areas of Religion and “Other” are handled in the same way.  Religious-related programs received $926 million and another $37 million for programs that don’t fit in any other area.  They too are given a ratio of 1.0:1

The authors end their report with brief comments on the indirect benefits of foundation support and the damaging impact of taxing foundations and nonprofits. 

There are ill winds in Congress that we must watch closely.  Racist politics and a disrespect for foundations and nonprofits may gain more support.  If those forces are successful the damage would be massive.  Be forewarned and informed.  Charles Marlin

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first-library-boardab2Ralph M. and wife Ella Mae Eccles and his sister Margaret W. Lesher were good and generous neighbors for Rimersburg PA and all of southern Clarion County. This fund is a small part of a larger story.

In 1957 Ralph built the Rimersburg Medical Center in memory of his wife Ella Mae who died in 1956. When his sister Margaret died in 1963 her will created the Margaret M. And Irwin W. Lesher Foundation to provide scholarships to local students. In 1968 Ralph gave Rimersburg a new library dedicated as the Eccles-Lesher Memorial Library. When Ralph died in 1972 his will created the Ralph M. And Ella M. Eccles Foundation to continue the support of the library, the medical center, local scholarships, and other worthy projects in Rimersburg, Sligo, Toby Township, Madison Township, and Piney Township, Clarion County. For a much fuller story of his business and charity go to www.eccles-lesher.org/libraryhistory.html

His will bequeathed $25,000 to the Rimersburg Medical Center Fund, separate from his foundation and administered by First Seneca Bank And Trust, to support physical maintenance of the facility. In 2007 National City Bank, successor to First Seneca, transferred the trust fund to Bridge Builders Community Foundations. Because the service area is southern Clarion County it is now part of the BBCF affiliate Clarion County Community Foundation.

Ralph M. Eccles was born January 06, 1890, and died September 16, 1972. His wife Ella Mae Eccles was born June 29, 1890, and died June 02, 1956. They are buried in the Rimersburg Cemetery. The photograph was provided by Sharon Custer of the Eccles-Lesher Memorial Library. Thank you Sharon. Charles Marlin

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sc000071bc22The holidays are a wonderful time to renew family ties and friendships, review our life, and set ourselves to live well another year. Most everyone thinks of themselves as modest individuals, not given to ostentatious or audacious moves. So now is a good time to praise modest beginnings.

What you see above is the document that began the first fund of the Venango Area Community Foundation, the parent of Clarion County Community Foundation, and Forest County Community Foundation. A modest beginning with expansive results is worthy of praise.

On June 24, 1976, the Pennsylvania Bank And Trust entered into an Agency Agreement with the newly created VACF to accept trust funds on behalf of the VACF. The bank received the following payments from Galena Rew Harrington to create The Galena Rew Harrington Fund, $5,000 on December 27, 1976, $5,000 on December 28, 1977, and $8,000 on October 10, 1978 as the first fund of the VACF. A subsequent gift from her sister Mary E. Rew of $10,000 was added to the fund on July 23, 1979, and it became the Harrington Rew Fund. Penn Bank in time became the Mellon Bank and now NYB Mellon. The Harrington Rew Fund was transferred to the community foundation as trustee and is now invested with National City Bank which in 2009 becomes part of PNC Bank. Created in 1975 the VACF was reorganized in 2007 into an administrative foundation Bridge Builders Community Foundations, with affiliates VACF, CCCF, and FCCF.

Galena Rew Harrington was born September 09, 1883, in Franklin PA, and died March 31, 1979. Mary E. Rew was born July 21,1891, also in Franklin PA, and died May 28, 1990. They are buried in Section CC of the Franklin Cemetery.

Banks seem to come and go, but citizen-controlled community foundations stay and stay and stay. A long recession may slow the foundation down but it does not close the foundation doors. The foundation’s short-term view is ten years. Its long-term view is long indeed. If you are modest and interested, call Steve Kosak Executive Director at (814) 677-5085, or Charles Marlin Board President at (814) 797-2233. Bill Bowen, Steve Kosak, and the staff of The Pennsylvania Room of the Franklin Library helped with the research for this posting. Thank you. Charles Marlin

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Let’s try a new recipe for a great feeling.  The ingredients are (1) having a good time, (2) meeting new people, (3) talking about a topic you feel strongly about, (4) working with new friends, (5) working with old friends, (6) helping others, (7) getting hold of the future, (8) making your community better, (9) learning about charity needs, (10) influencing others, and (11) accepting accolades for work well done.  This life dessert is a giving circle.  It has qualities similar to missionary and rosary societies, hometown fraternities and service clubs, alumni and retiree chapters.  Well okay, the giving circles are spicier and probably more caloric.  Think chocolate sauce on double chocolate.

The stuff you can get from Google is confusing and a bit intimidating, but I don’t think the idea is hard to understand or respond to.  You join with friends and family, coworkers and strangers to pool your charity giving around a broad topic of interest.  You meet and the money collected is divided into two pots, half for immediate giving and half for an endowment fund to impact the future.

Everyone makes sugestions and everyone’s idea is given a full discussion.  A vote is taken and instructions are passed on to the community foundation: “Set this amount aside for an endowment fund and pay this amount out immediately to these nonprofits.  Call on us if you or the nonprofits need help.  Report back.”

The rules don’t have to take long to settle on or do they need to be a burden.  The Clarion County Community Foundation can take care of complying with the law, keeping the records, and handling the money.  It can even call the meetings if asked.  The people creating the giving circle need to select a broad field of interest such as Women, Food, Veterans, Earth, and then invite others to join in the charitable effort.  Most giving circles set a minimum amount for everyone to give.  If a person wants to give more they do so annonimously.  Each year the circle renews itself and the work goes on.

Do you like the idea of a giving circle?  Do you have a field of interest you want to be involved in?  Good, the next step is to call us, Steve Kosak, Executive Director at (814) 677-5085, or Charles Marlin, Board President at (814) 797-2233.  We can put out publicity to recruit others and create a page on Clarion Friends to let the community know what you are doing and planning.

If you want to read about giving circles but not spend time searching, go to Forum Of Regional Associations Of Grantmakers at http://www.giving forum.org  Their Ten Basic Steps to Starting a Giving Circle reinvents the wheel but you will see that hitching a ride with CCCF is a lot easier and more exciting.  They have two longer documents you may wish to look at, More Giving Together: An Updated Study of the Continuing Growth and Powerful Impact of Giving Circles and Shared Giving by Jessica E. Bearman, and another by Angela M. Eikenberry, Giving Circles and Fundraising in the New Philanathropy Environment, published February 2007.  Eikenberry will have a book published by Indiana University Press this coming June, Giving Circles: Philanthropy, Voluntary Association, and Democracy.  Charles Marlin

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If I was not a music illiterate I could tell you a lot more about John Adams’ autobiography Hallelujah Junction: Composing An American Life.  The writing is lean and clean, personal and persuasive.  The life story I enjoyed.  When he wrote about the music I did a high school and waited until he came back to the life stuff.  I would believe someone who says the music stuff is wonderful.  I’m not dead, just musically out of it.  When he wrote about developing libretti it was with an authority and compassion I found compelling.  His web site www.earbox.com is not bad either.  If his music is good for you, go for the book.

I asked my friend Roger Horn to recommend a CD for someone looking for an introduction to Adams’ music.  I have cut and pieced together his response.  “I like Adams’ music, though quite selectively.  When I think about it my mind turns to Nixon In China first of all, anticlimactic though the last act may be, and then to The Chairman Dances, which is derived from Nixon In China.  Just hearing ‘I am the wife of Mao Tse Tung’ would make it all worthwhile, but there are lots of other goodies.”

Nixon In China (Nonesuch 79177) is an original cast recording with Edo de Waart conducting the Orchestra of St. Lukes, featuring James Maddelena as Nixon, Sanford Sylvan as Chou En-lai, John Duykers as Mao, and Carolann Page as Pat Nixon.  Charles Marlin

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Kevin D. Beichner has self-published a runaway best seller for the holiday season in Clarion County. His A Clarion County Collection: Post Cards & Photographs sells for $20 at locations scattered through out the county. By soliciting help from many residents he has images of every town and township. There are great shots of buildings and bridges, rivers, streets and stores, and Clarion University through its early years.

On page 167 he claims to have an early photograph of the Wayside Inn but if you use a magnifying glass the third man from the left looks like Chris Kurtzhal. Judge for yourself.

On page 75 he has a great early photograph of Seminary Hall, perhaps earlier than the post card reproduced here. When I came to the campus Seminary Hall was still in use. I didn’t teach in the building but I did administer final exams there. When the dunderheaded administration decided it was in the way, appeals did no good as administrators know best because they are administrators. Al Pfaff made a great photographic record of their effort over several unscheduled days to bring down the “unsafe” building. What they put on the site was and remains ugly.

A later administration erected a faux bell tower near the site but even students’ whose parents were not born when Old Seminary came down can sense that the faux tower neither stands nor rings in a league with what was lost. The faux tower will serve a purpose if it reminds the present and future administrations that heritage is not a commodity and that savaging heritage is antithetical to the being of a university. Charles Marlin

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