News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 28, 2014

Disabilities group among 51 community efforts receiving FFB trust funds

TERRE HAUTE — Because of the generosity of four historic Terre Haute leaders, individuals and businesses who support people with special needs will be recognized for uplifting those folks in the workplace and the community at large.

Thanks to a check from Trust Services at First Financial Bank on Tuesday, the inaugural Terre Haute Disability Awareness Recognition Awards on Feb. 28 – sponsored by the Disability Awareness Work Group – will kick off the upcoming Disability Awareness Month with an event honoring businesses, organizations and individuals who have a positive impact on the lives of those with disabling conditions.

“DAWG is a collaboration of about 30 individuals, agencies, businesses and care groups that recognizes the abilities of those with disabilities,” said Pete Ciancone of the WILL Center, one of the agencies involve in assisting the disabled.

In another effort by a community organization, TREES Inc. will be able to continue its mission of greening Terre Haute and maintaining the community’s trees through the contributions received from the charitable trust distributions.

“We want people to keep treating their trees,” said Barbara Brugnaux of TREES Inc., which is working to educate the public on the tree-destroying emerald ash borer that has been found around the community. “There’s some urban legend out that this cold weather will kill the EAB, but it doesn’t stay cold enough long enough for that here.”

The funding TREES received will support the organization’s efforts of public education and tree planting.

More than $123,000 in funds from trusts established by  past local leaders were distributed to 51 area not-for-profit organizations by First Financial Bank.

The trusts were established by four prominent Terre Haute citizens:

n Oscar Baur, who led the Terre Haute Brewing Co.

n Frederick R. Benson, who moved to Terre Haute later in life and was involved in civic organizations.

n Mary Smith Young, who died in 1949 after years of dedication to disadvantaged people in the Wabash Valley.

n Sheldon Swope, who enlisted as a young man in the 14th Indiana Regiment at Camp Vigo during the Civil War, and who settled in Terre Haute after the war and later set aside funds for the establishment of a public art gallery.

Cary W. Sparks of First Financial’s Trust Services department said the foresight and planning by those four citizens has benefited many organizations through the years.

“Hopefully, this is an impetus for these groups to jumpstart their fundraising for this year,” Sparks said of the annual disbursement of the trust funds.

The check was a big boost for Friends of Allen Chapel, a group that supports a historically African American church at Third and Crawfords streets in Terre Haute.

“This is a significant gift,” said Friends leader Joy Sacopulos, “and it recognizes the historic preservation project is important for the city of Terre Haute. We think it’s important, and it’s an opportunity for others to show this is important for them too.”

Sacopulos said the church had major roof damage from a storm that halted interior building repairs until the roof can be replaced. The funding will help get the repairs made.

Charitable organizations can apply for the trust funds by contacting Trust Services at First Financial Bank in Terre Haute. Written requests for funding should be received by Nov. 15 of each year, and should explain why funds are being requested and how they will be used.

Also during Tuesday morning’s event, First Financial Corp. announced its 2013 contribution to area United Way campaigns. More than $79,630 in corporate and employee pledges and contributions were donated to benefit United Way organizations in many of the counties served by First Financial affiliates.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or

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