$5 million gift

Waltersdorfs, Henson foundation to help charities

Waltersdorfs, Henson foundation to help charities

October 22, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

HAGERSTOWN - Local nonprofit agencies will will have access to a new source of money, thanks to a $5 million gift from a Hagerstown couple and a late philanthropist's foundation.

"It certainly is an exciting possibility," said Alfred Boyer, a board member and marketing manager for Aspiring to Serve Inc., a Hagerstown-based nonprofit that could benefit from the new campaign.

Officials from the Community Foundation of Washington County on Thursday announced the creation of the Waltersdorf-Henson Endowment Challenge Campaign.

John and Margaret Waltersdorf, of Hagerstown, and the Richard A. Henson Foundation each will provide up to $500,000 a year for the five-year campaign.


John Waltersdorf, former owner of Hagerstown-based Tristate Electrical Supply Inc., is a board member of the Community Foundation. Henson, who died in 2002, owned Henson Aviation Inc. Both have been known for community fund-raising efforts.

Henson's name is on the YMCA building on Eastern Boulevard as well as the airfield at Hagerstown Regional Airport, where the event to announce the campaign was held Thursday.

Nonprofit organizations that wish to have access to the money must raise money on their own, which, combined with the Waltersdorf-Henson money, will be used to start an endowment for the individual nonprofits, said Brad Sell, Community Foundation executive director.

An endowment is a type of fund-raising mechanism in which an organization places money it raises into a savings account, or several accounts. The organization usually only spends the interest earned on the money it has raised. The money remaining continues to provide money by earning annual interest.

The goal of the campaign is to endow a total of $10 million, Sell said.

The Community Foundation will manage the individual accounts for each organization, but the organizations will be able to use the money they earn from the endowment for their own purposes, Sell said.

A nonprofit that wishes to begin an endowment through this campaign must raise a minimum of $100,000, Sell said. Those organizations must apply, and the Community Foundation will select the nonprofits with which it chooses to work. Organizations must submit a letter of intent by Dec. 31.

With the Waltersdorf-Henson money, the Community Foundation will match the money raised by the individual nonprofits, up to $1 million per organization, Sell said.

An organization that raises $100,000 could receive up to $10,000 a year from the endowment program, Sell said.

Boyer's organization is refurbishing an abandoned factory building in Hagerstown, with hopes of providing office space for other nonprofit agencies. He said the final cost of the project will be more than $3 million.

Boyer, reached by phone Thursday, said that while it sounds like the new program could help his organization, there's still the matter of raising money to participate in the new program.

"There are many other organizations and individuals that are vying for funds," Boyer said. He said the congregation of Christ's Reformed Church, which is affiliated with Aspiring to Serve, has donated $1 million for the building project.

"We've kind of stressed out our congregation," Boyer said.

Nevertheless, the program offers new money that wasn't previously available, Washington County Commissioner James F. Kercheval said.

"It's a tremendous contribution to our community. ... The needs of nonprofits are only growing ... (and) these are legitimate needs," Kercheval said.

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