Editor's Note: HSJ Online has received funding from the Hawcreek-Flat Rock Area Endowment.
Past recipients of funding from the Hawcreek-Flat Rock Area Endowment say communities in northern Bartholomew County would suffer immeasurably if not for donors' collective generosity.
HSJ Online spoke to representatives of the Yellow Trail Museum, the One-Room Schoolhouse, the Hope Summer Playground and a third Grade class at Hope Elementary School after an announcement last month that former Hope resident Tim Andrews, of Princeton, N.J., and Heritage Fund - the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County each would donate matching funds for every public donation to the Hawcreek-Flat Rock Endowment, up to a total of $10,000.
The pledge means $10,000 would become $30,000 if enough donations come in by Dec. 31. Founded in 2002, the endowment to date has provided more than $158,000 in grants to nonprofit groups and projects.
Andrew Brunner, a leader for the Hope Summer Playground, said the ball diamonds and amenities that comprise the playground owe a portion of their quality to endowment funding. He said endowment funding allowed for the addition of a fifth ball diamond in 2016 and the replacement of concrete and backstops.
Those improvements -- particularly the new ball diamond -- made a positive difference in the Hope Summer Playground's ability to attract teams from outside the area to take part in tournaments.
"Sometimes we'll get 30 to 60 teams for a tournament during the weekend," Brunner said. "If we didn't have that fifth diamond, some of those teams wouldn't be coming in.
"It puts us on a more competitive footing."
Barb Johnson, a Hope area community leader, said endowment funding has allowed for painting, roof repairs and landscaping at the One-Room Schoolhouse, and will soon lead to the installation of a directional sign along Highway 9 so people can find their way to the landmark.
She said endowment funding has made a similar impact at the Yellow Trail Museum. Past grants have enabled the purchase of printers and computers for public educational purposes, she said, and plugged holes where birds once entered the building.
"These buildings are a source of community pride," Johnson said. "Without them, they wouldn't be as special."
Julie Swegman, a third-grade teacher at the elementary school, said supplemental funding is important for schools in a time of tight budgets. She said funding in the past has provided incentive prizes like movies and miniature golf for 3rd and 4th graders in the Accelerated Reader program.
"We know the program works, because we've seen improvement on ISTEP," Swegman said.
"It's so important."
People who are willing to help the Hawcreek-Flat Rock Endowment can send donations to:
* The Hawcreek-Flat Rock Endowment, Box 202, Hope, IN 47246.
* Heritage Fund - the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, 538 Franklin St., Columbus, IN 47201.