30 years doesn’t just happen out of the blue. Building a sustainable organization that will continue to support the needs of our communities has been the hard work of board members, volunteers, and community members like you.

Some of the most giving individuals are those who invest their time to ensure the longevity of an organization to meet needs that are greater than their own. When you think of people like these, a name or two probably comes to mind…but we have a couple of individuals that we would personally like to recognize.

Writing the Future in Jasper County

As a founding board member Robert “Bob” Lewis (†) worked diligently on putting the by-laws together, seeking information needed for the formation of the Jasper Foundation, and working with Lilly Endowment. His writing skills were put to excellent use as he assisted Linda Reiners in writing the application for the Carnegie Center to be placed on the Historic Register.

Besides the Foundation he gave so much of his time to organizations like the Prairie Arts Council and the Historic Preservation Association of Jasper County. Bob took philanthropy to heart and was purpose-driven in his charitable work.

“Bob and I worked very closely on the Foundations, especially in the formative years. He worked tirelessly to help achieve our goals which was a valuable asset. His writing skills were put to excellent use as he assisted me in writing the application for the Carnegie Center to be placed on the Historic Register. Just one example of many. Bob was a true watchman of the finances! He kept a sharp eye and was diligent on the investments as Finance Chairman during his board tenure and also when he was treasurer. I was amazed how many hours he used to efficiently work with our financials.”  

-Linda Reiners

Networking in Jasper County

As Executive Director for 20 years, Linda Reiners was a stellar organizer, partner & achiever. She served as executive director from 1992 – 2012. Her role and position were driven by the need to make connections in both communities and build something better. 

Her talent for relationship building and the community it created were fueled by connection. Linda’s dedication to philanthropy and conversations created a wave of philanthropic education throughout our communities, resulting in the culture of giving back where we live.  She had a keen sense of people and their talents for finance, community knowledge, and giving that helped her recruit a strong network of board members and committee members over her 20 years of service to the Jasper Foundation. Things were always done with excellence, kindness, and a little bit of flair. 

When we talk – her most favorite stories to talk about are the very beginning of the organization in acquiring the Carnegie Library Building and then its massive remodel into the Carnegie Center. She kept detailed notes and photographs of the whole process and just revelled in the transformation of the updated space. Her thoughtfulness and attention to detail have given us the amazing woodwork, intricate front doors and interior doors, and exquisite reconstructed stained glass ceiling in the upstairs gallery space.

-Brienne Hooker, Executive Director

Linda’s belief in the beginnings of the Jasper Foundation speaks to her insight into the community when the organization realized that she was signing up to be part of something transformational in our rural communities. Under her watch the Jasper Foundation grew from one county to two and from a balance of $0 in 1991 to over $13 Million in assets by the time of her retirement.

A Jasper Newton Doctor

Dr. John Egan (†) served on the board from 1999 – 2001. John often served as a valuable spokesperson for the goals and aspirations of the organization. When he walked into a room, people were aware of his boisterous personality and friendly presence. 

In the beginning, John was aware that the operating fund was stretched to the limits. His foresight to develop memorial and celebratory gifts helped build the foundation of the operating fund that exists today. He always helped to instill charitable giving and leaving a legacy for our board members and in our communities. 

Any project with the arts he was particularly fond of, however the dedication of the Carnegie Center was a favorite project that John and these three individuals worked on. His wise thoughts and foresight made people want to get behind projects & made any project he was involved in a success.

“John was a pillar of the Jasper Newton Foundation from the beginning, helping to mold and guide the Foundation into being and onto a path toward its current form. John loved where he lived and this will be his legacy.”

-Brienne Hooker, Executive Director

Jasper-Newton Foundation

The three of these individuals sometimes had heated conversations about how things should proceed, where the next investment was going to be, or what project was next. All these conversations had the community at the heart and focus. The longevity of the organization’s main goal was to serve others and better the communities they lived in. At the end of the day, these three worked closely from the beginning to make it happen.

When talking to Linda Reiners about these influential individuals, she says it best. “Too often we underestimate the power of a person or a few people who have the potential to turn a dream into a reality.”

The Jasper Newton Foundation recognizes Bob, John, and Linda to be some of the many, who were diligent in our upbringing. They recognized the importance of making the Jasper Foundation, Newton County Community Foundation, and other non-profits sustainable and make Rensselaer, Jasper and Newton Counties better places to live. 

Have your own memories of these three individuals? We would love to hear them! The impact they made lies far beyond a brief summary. At the Jasper Newton Foundation, we know that these individuals truly loved where they live and had a change on the people they interacted with. Leave a comment or contact us to share your memory with us as we celebrate 30 years. 

() indicates individual is deceased
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