PENDLETON — South Madison Community Foundation celebrated its 30th anniversary recently with a treasure hunt in the southern part of the county, to be done at one’s leisure through the course of a week, followed by an open house at its office, located at 233 S. Main St., on Sunday, Oct. 24.
“It was so much fun getting to see the different parks, the sports complex and the police station,” said Celeste Wright-Black, who did the treasure hunt with her son Griffin, 5. “I like trying to find educational activities for the kids that are also physical.
“He thought it was really cool.”
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The hunt included 10 stops in the four townships served by the foundation (Adams, Fall Creek, Green and Stony Creek), including ones in Ingalls, Lapel, Markleville and Pendleton.
Wright-Black — who is originally from Hamilton County, lives in Henry County and works in Madison County — said she and her son “made a whole day of it,” learning about the sights on the hunt, and gathering the wooden tokens at each stop, which the foundation collected and used as tickets in a drawing.
Foundation Executive Director Tammy Bowman said the week went well, with all but 10 of the 100 treasure hunt totes picked up by wannabe hunters during the week. Scores of tokens were collected and returned to foundation office.
The garden open house finale was moved indoors because of the weather, but people passed through during the afternoon, including several board members and members of the public, some adding tokens to a box in the foyer.
According to Sue Patton, foundation project specialist, there were “well over” 200 coins entered into the drawing. Six names were drawn, with each winner receiving a $10 Falls Perk gift card and the opportunity to direct a $200 donation to the non-profit or SMCF fund of his or her choice.
As of press time, $200 donations had been directed to Pendleton Artists Society, Madison County Humane Society and an existing donor fund.
Wright-Black later said one of the tokens she and Griffin had picked up during the treasure hunt was drawn. Griffin ha narrowed down his choice of charity to either Little Free Libraries or an organization that helps ensure children receive gifts on their birthdays, she said.
Besides the good time she said she and her son had, and the places they discovered, Wright-Black said she learned about South Madison Community Foundation.
“I didn’t realize all the different organizations they support and all the fundraising they do,” she said.
Below is a timeline of some key moments in the history of South Madison Community Foundation, as compiled by its leadership:
• In June 1990, Lilly Endowment announces community foundation initiative GIFT. Initial announcement stated it was the endowment’s hope to promote at least 15 new community foundations in Indiana communities.
• Initially $40 million was allocated toward this new initiative, which included endowment challenges ($1 for every $2 given), technical assistance and community service projects. Minimum requirements for a community to participate were: a part-time staff person and an office (no working from home).
• Doug Owens of Pendleton attended informational meetings with other interested individuals (mostly from Anderson). It soon became apparent to Doug that most of the conversation centered around the good such a program could provide Anderson. Doug met with one of the endowment’s briefers about forming a community foundation in South Madison County. The briefer said “no way” could South Madison County (Fall Creek, Adams and Green townships) form its own Community Foundation.
• Doug did not accept the briefer’s response and thus made an appointment with Charles Johnson, Lilly’s VP for community development and the architect of the GIFT program. The results of that meeting was “if you think South Madison has the resources to establish its own community foundation, ‘go for it.’”
• Doug gathered eight other individuals from the three townships to discuss the possibility of forming South Madison Community Foundation. These individuals were: Kurt Kahl, Jim Story, Nancy Phenis-Bourke, Sandy Hennis, Reggie Laconi, Rex Pasko, Art Eversole and Brad Ballentine. All gathered believed that South Madison could support and sustain a community foundation. These nine individuals began meeting regularly and formulating the legal documents necessary to submit to become recognized as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization; they became the first board of directors at South Madison Community Foundation.
• Once the documents were finalized and approved in September 1991, the board began advertising for an executive director. Interviews for the position began in October 1991.
• Dick Creger was selected and started work in January 1992. The office location was to be in the back storeroom space of the law office of Owens & Owens. Administrative support required by the new executive director would be provided by the legal secretaries of Owens & Owens.
• From January 1992 to September 1992, a professional office was established. There were training seminars and many meetings with the board and executive director to formulate the application to Lilly Endowment to participate in the GIFT initiative.
• In September 1992, Charles Johnson was invited to Pendleton, toured the community, had dinner with the board and executive director, and then presented SMCF’s application to participate in the GIFT initiative. Shortly thereafter, the foundation’s application was approved.
• SMCF operation overhead costs were initially covered by three-year pledges of $3,000 each year. Those that pledged included Pendleton Banking Co., Pendleton Lions Club and the law office of Owens & Owens.
• Some of the first major gifts to the foundation included transfer of trusteeship of the Hobbs Scholarship from Pendleton Banking Co. to the foundation and transfer of the Ruth Willard Scholarship from South Madison Community School Corp. to the foundation. The outdoor labs at East Elementary and Pendleton Elementary schools were the first community projects funded with service project monies from Lilly Endowment.
• Beginning with what became GIFT III, the endowment’s challenges were countywide only, meaning counties such as Madison County that had two community foundations had to work together to determine how the challenge would be accepted. Due to population, SMCF’s applications reflected a plan that incorporated 25% of the Endowment’s challenge. By this time the endowment’s GIFT initiative had become so successful (meaning many more applications were received than anticipated), the endowment raised the initial GIFT budget from $40 million to $60 million.
• In 1997, SMCF office moved from the law office of Owens & Owens to office space in the Madison Community Bank (previously Pendleton Banking Co.). That office location is now the Town of Pendleton’s council room. It was during this time SMCF hired its first part-time administrative assistant.
• In 2003, Stony Creek Township was incorporated as part of the SMCF. Foundation legal documents were rewritten and submitted to reflect the change. Board composition was changed to reflect representation of the added township.
• In 2007, Lisa Floyd was hired from Madison County Community Foundation as SMCF administrative assistant. Shortly thereafter, her position was renamed assistant director. Then-executive director Creger began to groom Floyd in all aspects of the community foundation with the idea that she would be a potential future SMCF executive director.
• In February 2007, SMCF was notified it had been named the primary beneficiary of Charles Owens’ estate valued at about $1.7 million. Conditions of the estate can be found in Charlie’s Last Will and Testament, which is a file at SMCF.
• After major interior renovations by Fredericks Inc., the home of Charlie Owens (formerly home of Thomas Pendleton) became the “home” of SMCF. Creger retired in July 2008, and Lisa Floyd was selected as the foundation’s new executive director.
• Women’s giving circle Open Hearts, Open Purses was formed in 2010.
• Tammy Bowman became the foundation’s executive director in 2018.
• In 2019, the foundation managed the Long Term Recovery Group following the Memorial Day Tornado.
• In 2020, the foundation collaborated with the community in planting 300 trees in one day.
• Over time, SMCF has awarded more than $5.5 million in grants and scholarships and invests $12.5 million in grants that create positive change and lasting impact in the local communities.