Donor Highlight Story- Laughlin Family Fund

Andy and Kara Laughlin, of Fremont, continue to support causes they care about and give back to the Steuben County community in a way that is inspiring to others. While both were raised in East Allen County, Andy’s mother was born at Cameron Hospital and is from a family of Jamestown settlers.  Both Andy and Kara frequented the area growing up.  Their mutual love of the lakes and the community here is something that brought them together, and eventually drew them to make Steuben County ‘home’.  They have two children at Fremont Community Schools and are members of Peace Lutheran Church and the YMCA of Steuben County.  The family is involved in local politics and youth sports, with Andy serving as both a County Commissioner and Fremont High School football coach.  Kara is an optometrist by trade.  They both have enjoyed getting involved with several local non-profit boards and helping to facilitate collaborative efforts that are satisfying needs in our area.

The Laughlin’s started their Donor Advised Fund at the Steuben County Community Foundation in 2022, wanting to use their charitable giving to help meet those needs closest to home. After investigating various options, they found the SCCF offered flexibility and the ability to give to a wide variety of causes.  They also manage the background paperwork and investing.  Andy notes, “The Community Foundation does a great job of connecting donors to projects right here, large and small.  They find the needs, and you contribute to whatever inspires you.”  Since the fund was created, the Laughlin’s have given to causes they care about, like supporting YMCA initiatives, senior programming at the Heritage Club, and expanding vocational training to students in Steuben County.

Andy and Kara hope to instill the value of giving to their children, and decided a Donor Advised Fund, versus a charitable bequest when they were gone, would make a bigger impression and get them involved in recognizing where they can be of help with their time, talent, or treasure.  The Laughlin’s were also happy that the fund still has a ‘legacy factor’ with Donor Advised Funds’ management turning over to the next generation.  Kara explains that charitable donations can be made at any phase of life because of how easy SCCF makes it to contribute, and these types of funds can be started with as little as $5000. “We still have a mortgage, and we still have college to pay for, but some years have had blessings worth sharing.  You can add over time.  You can use the fund for your tithing, or as a tax deduction tool, even if you aren’t certain in that moment where exactly you want to make your donations.” Donor-Advised Funds are established by donors who wish to participate in the grantmaking process by making recommendations to the SCCF board of directors.

The Laughlin’s agreed, “Seeing the impact of your gifts, seeing your kids see that, it’s a fun experience.”  An experience they hope to encourage other families to participate in with the help of the Community Foundation. 

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