News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 31, 2013

Nonprofit organizations receive distributions from local trusts

‘Sole purpose is to support our community agencies,’ First CEO Lowery says

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Carol Stevens’ day started early on Wednesday.

Around 3 a.m., she started fielding storm-related calls that dealt with a tree falling on an apartment building in Putnam County and a major power outage in Greene County.

A Red Cross team helped two families in Putnam, and the agency also opened a shelter in Greene County. Later in the day, Red Cross was assessing property damage in Greene, as an emergency vehicle drove through neighborhoods near Solsberry offering assistance.

By 9:30 a.m., Stevens was more than happy to receive a check for $23,333 provided to the agency by a charitable trust. Red Cross and 49 other nonprofit organizations received distributions from trusts established by Oscar Baur, Frederick R. Benson, Mary Smith Young and Sheldon Swope.

The four prominent Terre Haute citizens established trusts through their wills at First Financial Bank. Funds are distributed to charitable organizations annually, based on the benefactor’s criteria.

The Red Cross funds, which come from the Benson trust, “will go to help support the Red Cross mission throughout the Wabash Valley,” Stevens said.

The agency receives funds annually from the Benson trust. “We raise a half-million dollars each year” to support Red Cross services, Stevens said, “and that $23,333 is an important piece of that. It really makes it a little easier to know we have this coming every year and we can count on it.”

The trust distribution, totaling $119,000, took place at the First Financial Bank Conference Center.

Norm Lowery, president and CEO of First Financial Bank, said the distribution occurs annually, and it’s made possible by the foresight and generosity of Baur, Benson, Young and Swope.

“The sole purpose is to support our community agencies and the good work they do in the community. We’re happy to be a part of it,” Lowery said.

Vigo County’s Court Appointed Special Advocates received $500, which will be used to provide services to underprivileged children, said Nikki Fuhrmeister, CASA director. Funding will be used to meet children’s basic needs and also to assist them with activities they otherwise might not be able to afford, such as scholarships to the Terre Haute Boys and Girls Club.

The CASA program is made up of trained community volunteers who advocate for abused or neglected children involved in the juvenile court system.

The organization presently has 110 active volunteers and began a new training class Wednesday. Last year, CASA served more than 500 kids, a 38-percent increase over the year before.

Another organization to receive funding was the Wabash Valley Breast Cancer Survivors Inc. Funds are used to help pay for mammograms for those who are uninsured, as well as other items that help survivors, said Coral Cochran, the group’s volunteer director.

Families by Choice received $250, which will be used to expand an outreach program, said Muriel Ryan, the organization’s co-founder.

The outreach program provides supplementary food at the end of the month to disabled and aged individuals who live in public housing. Currently, the program serves 18 people at Garfield Towers, Ryan said.

The goal is to serve 130 people at both Garfield Towers and Deming Center, she said. Other partner organizations are involved.

First Financial Corp. also announced that it has raised $87,600 in corporate and employee pledges and contributions for the United Way of the Wabash Valley 2012 campaign.