The following article originally appeared in the May 2015 edition of Madison Neighbors
By Elizabeth “Buffi” DePierro
It’s a perfect fit! The Madison Foundation (TMF) is delighted to be featured as this month’s Charity Spotlight in Madison Neighbors magazine. As the Foundation has long stood as a solid but quiet anchor in the community, we recognize that Madison Neighbors is what the foundation is all about! Through the generosity of many, in our almost 20-year history, TMF has given back nearly one million dollars to our community, and has raised over an additional million dollars in endowment funds that will benefit future generations of Madison residents.
Madison is beautiful, With picturesque beaches, an attractive town center, and great history. Even here, in a community as comfortable as this, there are many needs and opportunities to make improvements worthy of community support. We are fortunate to have many residents with a deep-seated desire to help make Madison a better place. The Madison Foundation is that organization that serves the community. Through our grantmaking process, TMF is here for residents to quietly approach if they need a hand, and also as a ready partner to support a wide variety of community needs.
The mission of The Madison Foundation is simply “to make Madison a better place to live, both now and in the future, by encouraging giving, and matching those gifts to the needs of the community.” And TMF is more than that … it is our community charitable trust. TMF 501(c)3 was formed in 1996 by neighbors who deeply cared about their community, their neighbors, and the future of our community.
The Foundation was conceived by five civic-minded Madison families. Together they donated the seed monies to create an anchor fund called the Madison Community Benefit Fund, later coded as the Founders Fund, a discretionary fund to better the community – and the Foundation was launched. Our community is exceptionally grateful to these Founders for shaping TMF.
The Founders include the late Mary Jo and Robert E. (Bob) MacDonald, who, following their retirement in Manhattan, moved to Madison and purchased the old Madison Hardware Store. They operated the store, which they called “The Idea Store” (these ideas surely included more than hardware!). J. Sanford (Jack) Davis, respected child psychologist, long-term Executive Director of the Grove School and civic leader, with his wife Helen, were committed to the establishment of the Foundation. The kind philanthropic founders, the late Marilyn Hotchkiss and Robert Ford Schumann, who spent every summer in Madison and especially embraced the last 10 years at the family home in Madison, shared the love of this town and inspired the Foundation’s beginning.
Maureen “Mo” Dalton and Peter Dalton were trailblazers and true Foundation pioneers. The Foundation continues to honor Peter’s memory and his deep love of family and community with events like the Peter Dalton Memorial Golf Tournament, which raised funds to help build the Madison Veterans’ Walk at Post 79 of the American Legion. Their endowment fund continues to be a cornerstone of TMF.
Jack and Laurie Heflin were not just Foundation founders, but again, in 2009 they launched the Neighbor to Neighbor Fund “N2N.” With support from Vicky Clement and Alice Gordon, they have been instrumental in growing N2N to be the largest fund within the Foundation. As Laurie proudly shares, “N2N connects volunteers with financial support from Madison residents and organizations, to provide a safety net of programs to assist the most vulnerable in our community.” N2N provides personal necessities to the Food Pantry, energy assistance, one-time emergency assistance, and camp scholarships for children who would otherwise not be able to attend, all vetted by Madison Youth and Family Services. All in all, N2N returns $50,000 per year back into the community, as it continuously seeks new ways to serve. “Madison residents are generous,” past President Nancy Gerson said, “They have helped finance countless educational, recreational, environmental and cultural programs.”
The range of benefits is wide! The same Foundation that has purchased first-aid kits for Madison’s Little Leaguers’ cuts and bruises on the field quietly supports a family through financial hardships incurred during an unexpected medical crisis. Education support includes a one-time reimbursement for a Madison teachers’ enrichment class, to a gift to the Friends of Hammonasset environmental programs, to the distribution of an abundance of designated tuition funds to secure college education. In fact, TMF manages more than 20 college scholarships for Madison high school students. Many TMF funds are entrenched in our schools, including the Daniel Hand High School Artist Enrichment Fund (AEF), in which TMF responded without hesitation to a request to promote creative thinking, and augment art education at DHHS.
Geoff Palmer, past President and Director Emeritus, says it best. “We are fortunate to be able to do what we do. TMF can assist any nonprofit in town. We can provide support using unrestricted funds, Or aligning specific advised funds.” The Foundation links those with the commitment to serve our community and those with the resources to help. That is why it has become an umbrella for funds large and small that allow individuals, groups, and families to become philanthropists. As a nonprofit community foundation, The Madison Foundation makes it easy to establish a fund and to operate it at a minimal cost. With this structure in place, income from endowed funds can be used to support programs with special meaning to the fund’s creators. It opens opportunities for philanthropy to everyone.
With the guidance of Director Emeritus and past President, Dave Allen, TMF recently established “The Heritage Society” for the purpose of allowing individuals or families to make a future gift that can be designated to TMF as a beneficiary in the individual’s will or trust. This legacy program enables bequests to the Foundation to cement the enduring mission to make Madison a better place to live, both now and in the future.
To make a tax-deductible gift or learn more about the Foundation’s work, please visit: themadisonfoundation.org
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