SCCF operates on a timeline of “forever,” with most gifts and donations permanently invested in endowment funds. These funds generate interest which is used to make grants for nonprofits, provide scholarships, and support other community projects. In September, a donor decided to take the idea of “forever” and apply it to a new audience – the animals at the Community Humane Shelter of Steuben County. Rhonda Hanson and Gary Probst generously hosted a unique housewarming party, asking attendees to make a donation to the shelter’s endowment fund through SCCF in lieu of gifts. In total, they raised more than $70,000 to help the Community Humane Shelter of Steuben County find more forever homes for the shelter’s animals.
By Fred Wooley, Board Member, Community Humane Shelter of Steuben County
On September 7, 2019 the Community Humane Shelter received a big boost to the shelter’s endowment fund through a unique benefit gathering. Shelter board member Rhonda Hanson and Gary Probst hosted an open house at their new Lake James home. In lieu of housewarming gifts, they asked those attending to make a donation to the shelter’s endowment fund through the Steuben County Community Foundation. With those gifts, Rhonda and Gary generously offered to match donations up to a total of $50,000.
The first Saturday of autumn proved to be a beautiful day and a great night for this unique gathering. Attending were friends of the shelter and friends and neighbors of Rhonda and Gary. There were a lot of friends! The gathering totaled about 240 actually, who parked in a nearby grassy field and were shuttled to the home in golf carts driven by members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity from Trine University.
With food and drink, attendees toured the beautiful new home and eventually found themselves collecting in the wonderfully landscaped lakeside lawn and treated to a great music concert featuring the Hubie Ashcraft Band and a guest fiddler from Nashville, Tennessee, Megan Mullins.The backdrop for the lawn, the event tent, the food and drink stations, was of course Lake James. It was a perfect night.
Early in the evening Rhonda and Gary took to the microphone and thanked all who participated and all who had donated to the shelter’s endowment fund. At this writing, donations totaled $35,000 and with the Hanson-Probst match adds over $71,117.40 to the endowment fund. The Community Foundation and the Community Humane Shelter of Steuben County thank Rhonda and Gary for hosting such a creative event and being not only gracious hosts for the night, but gracious and generous supporters of the shelter. They have shown by example yet another very creative way how people can come together to support a very worthy cause of one of our foundation-supported, non-profit organizations.
As Rhonda and Gary settle into their new home, the gifts from that night will grow and further provide resources for animals brought to the Community Humane Shelter of Steuben County to find comfort in their new forever homes.