Jasper Newton Foundation is celebrating 30 YEARS!

Together we have grown, changed, and developed communities in Jasper & Newton counties and have big ideas for what’s ahead. The support of community members, volunteers, and donors helped grow Jasper Newton Foundation as an organization and our donors made an impact in serving our communities.  

In the early 2000s, a shift of educational materials and resources began to turn into a wave of giving “and establishing” funds and endowments for our community. This was the start of significant investments through donor-advised and designated fund creation through the foundation. Local people started to see how they could give and how they could change their own communities. The community was beginning to see the impact of a community foundation and its reach in the local area.

Women’s Giving

In 2003, Pat Kopanda founded the DeMotte Women’s Giving Circle as a personal philanthropic group to directly impact needs in DeMotte. In the giving circle, women pool resources with friends, family, and colleagues who share similar interests in a local need or cause. Community nonprofit organizations benefit from the collective giving and partner with the Jasper Newton Foundation to hold the funds and make the gift to the group’s organization of choice. Simply, women were asked to donate $100 to be a part of the group and be able to review and vote on community organization grant applications from the DeMotte area. The women of DeMotte felt empowered to have such a helpful impact on their own neighborhood organizations.

Giving Circles partnering with the Jasper Newton Foundation have awarded over $140,000 in funds to their community & inspired members to continue philanthropic efforts where they live. We have seen groups of women in Rensselaer, DeMotte, Lake Village, Remington, and Roselawn giving back at different times in our 30 years here.

“Through the grants we have annually awarded since our inception in 2003, members of DeMotte Women’s  Circle of Giving  have been able to contribute to the community in many tangible, meaningful ways.  It makes me feel so good to know that our philanthropy makes our community a better place in which to live, learn, play and work.”

— Judy Crawford, DeMotte Giving Circle Member

The Randall Tobias Foundation

The Tobias Foundation chose to support programming that inspires excellence in education with the expectation that positive educational change would ultimately follow.  A gift of $500, 000 was given to the community of Remington, Indiana. The grant was used to construct the Ray G. and Fern Tobias Community Center in honor of Mr. Tobias’ parents, who were leaders in the Remington Community for over 50 years. Ray and Fern had an interest in literacy and education and served on the Remington-Carpenter Township Library Board of Trustees. The renovation was completed in November of 2002 and was designed by FBI Buildings in Remington. 

The opening of the Community Center and the renovation of the library was a special day that was well attended for the community. The new spaces were accompanied by community members, special speakers, and a short piano concert played by none other than Mrs. Tobias. Programs and gifts like these are put simply about bringing people in the community together. The space continues to be utilized by the community of Remington and is a town treasure.  Recently some windows in the community center needed to be replaced and with the help of the endowment funds and a grant from the JNF, these window repairs will not cause financial strain on the library itself.


Fendig Endowment

Ralph Fendig is a name that was well-known in the Rensselaer community for his hometown pharmacy & love of the arts. His quick tales, his kindness, and his sense of community rippled throughout the community. As an avid art-lover, Fendig supported the initial financial support to start the Prairie Arts Council and Fendig Summer Theatre for Children. You might recall his name from the Lilian Fendig Arts gallery maintained by the Prairie Arts Council. Their relationship and love of education and arts can be seen in where they contributed their time and gifts to the community. 

Fendig was shy from publicity but not shy in his philanthropic efforts. In 1994, he set up a $250,000 charitable gift that became an endowment upon his death in 1997. Fendig’s benevolence and interest income gifts split donations to organizations in Jasper County. Linda Reiners recalls, “…the effects of his gift of leaving a legacy is far reaching and has touched many, many people. I believe that these non-profits haven’t forgotten Mr. Fendig’s name as his gifts through the years seem to have been woven with others to form a “tapestry of a caring community.” His name is still very much associated with philanthropy in Rensselaer and parts of Jasper County.” 

Mike Davis recalls his time at the Fendig Drugstore and shares, “One of the wonderful and learning experiences in growing up was working at Fendig Drugstore for Ralph Fendig. He was an astute businessman.  He was less complimentary to those fellow businessmen and solons of the community who were more interested in self-importance, or more concerned about the afternoon euchre games at the back of Harve’s Pool Room than contributing to the growth and well-being of the community. He and Peg left a positive influence in the community through their philanthropy.”

The Ralph W. Fendig endowment fund is designated for 5 organizations locally.  The initial investment of $250K has produced $148K plus in grants awarded over its lifetime illustrating the power of an endowment fund.  Fendig also helped to establish the Ralph and Lillian Fendig Summer Theatre for Children with a gift of $100,000.  These funds came to reside at the Jasper Newton Foundation as well and continue to support the 45-year old theater organization. 

Individuals can make a large difference in the community & set projects and causes up for success to enact real change in our communities. As we look through the last 30 years, the Jasper Newton Foundation is so happy to see the common denominator of people looking out for each other and supporting the places they live. 

What projects in your community are the direct result of giving similar to Tobias, Fendig, and giving circles? Thank you to all our donors who continue to support projects and places that make an impact each day.

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