Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Founding members and potential new members of the Dorchester County Fund gathered Thursday night to celebrate the first distribution of funds, to recap how far the group had come and to inspire future work.
The fund operates under the Coastal Community Foundation. George Stevens, President and CEO of the Coastal Community Foundation, introduced Summerville resident Dr. Otis Engelman, a founding member of the Dorchester County Fund and the chair of the first distribution committee.
Engelman said he had become involved in the fund when George Tupper came to talk to him about it. “As you know it's hard to say 'no' to George.”
Engelman said the idea had meaning to him. He agreed to pledge $10,000, an amount he termed “sacrificial giving.”
“But if you break it down into five years, I can do it. That was my financial obligation and I was glad to do it,” he said.
Through a series of conversations with community leaders, more people joined the fund as founders.
Engelman's announcement that the fund had raised a half million dollars in its first year drew applause from the audience.
After the fund received its first applications Engelman convened the distribution committee at J.J. Messervy's office.
Engelman was assigned to find out about the work at Meals on Wheels.
“They operate with an overhead of 6 percent. It was a fascinating thing. A wonderful program for the county to have,” he said. He saw first hand how the meals are put together and distributed. “It was a good experience for me. It changes your outlook.”
The initial distribution to Dorchester County organizations was $10,000.
Engelman was quick to say that the distribution did not touch the principal.
“The principal will bring revenue in the form of interest for an ongoing source of donations to eleemosynary organizations in our community.”
Stevens then took the microphone to explain a little about the beginning of the fund. He said he and Edie Blakeslee of the programs department that organizes volunteers for the distributions, had their doubts about whether the fund could succeed.
“Edie and I looked at each other and said, 'they're trying to raise half a million dollars. We're not sure they're going to be able to do this. We'll just have to see what they can do.'”
“Well, you did a whole lot more than we thought,” Stevens said.
Stevens held a fistful of flags representing non-profits in Dorchester County, some of which have already received some funding while others would likely be part of future distributions.
“These are a variety of organizations. There is a lot more to do, but we are getting there.”