Genesis of the Hawcreek-Flat Rock Area Endowment

From the memory of Bud Herron
January 26, 2003

Ideas of worth - particularly ideas that seem to have a degree of divine inspiration - don't often pour from the minds and imaginations of solitary individuals. More often, a seed that lies dormant in one person's mind suddenly is hit by the pollen from another mind in the midst of a conversation and a flower neither mind could previously create suddently blooms.

Thinking back at the process that took place to create the Hawcreek-Flat Rock Area Endowment (as I have been instructed to do by the board for the sake of posterity) I believe that is what took place.

I probably had the seen in my mind from nearly 15 years ago when a man named Jim Boggs came back from California with an idea to start a Community Foundation in Greenwood. He dragged me kicking and screaming into helping him. Along the way I became convinced that community endowments rather than serial fund-drives are the way to go in any community that can pull it off.

In 1998 I returned to Columbus to live and became reacquainted with the people of Hope, a place I grew up in and have always loved. I noted that the people of Hawcreek and Flat Rock Townships still possessed that independent, can-do attitude I remembered from my youth. I noted that whenever there was a need that required funding, the communities could raise the money. It made me proud.

In the summer of 2001, I was asked to attend a meeting of the Development Committee of the Heritage Fund of Bartholomew County. Several people from around the county were there, including Bill Lentz - a resident of Flat Rock Township that I had not met before. The subject was how to build the Heritage Fund. The conversation eventually turned to Hawcreek and Flat Rock Townships. Bill and I told the committee that the people in Northeastern Bartholomew County are independent and proud.

Bill and I were both struck with the thought that a separate fund, under the control of the people in the two townships, would work and would be a tremendous asset. After the meeting, we agreed to do some scouting to see what others thought of the idea. He would talk to John Norman about it and I would talk to Merrill Clouse - whom we identified as two of the most knowledgeable people in the area.

A couple of months later (I have never been a quick mover) I stopped by Merrill's house, presented the concept Bill and I had discussed and told him I thought a minimum of $500,000 could be raised. We talked about where we thought "the money is" and "who has it." Then Merrill began to talk about who could pull off the project. He mentioned about 20 names of "people we need involved to get this done." Top of the list were Don Dillman and Charlie Biggs. He suggested we have lunch with them and see what they thought.

Two weeks later the four of us were sitting in Grindstone Charley's restaurant in Columbus discussing the "wild idea" over nachos, chicken-fried steak and large glasses of iced-tea. That's when the seed started being bombarded by pollen. We talked for more than an hour. By the time we finished lunch, an idea had become a plan. Each of us was compiling a list of "movers and shakers" we needed to gather together and sell on the concept.

I was so excited when I left the meeting that I called Shirley Robertson from my car phone to tell her what we were going to do and how she ought to be involved. I also called Bill Lentz, who had had a similar conversation with John Norman.

Bill and I then took the idea to Sherry Stark, President of the Heritage Fund, and explained it - making sure this was a concept that would work within the fund. She was excited and said it certainly would.

In early 2002, an initial list of community leaders met for breakfast at the Hope United Methodist Church. After a series of these meetings, the community leaders not only embraced the idea, but began hammering out the details of how to make it a reality. Eventually an interim corps of officers, led by Tom Miller, took the reigns and launched the endowment. In the final analysis, it was the hard work of Miller, John Norman, Bill Lentz, Shirley Robertson, Gordon Elsbury, Don Dillman and Julie Glick - along with the assistance, hard work and wisdom of Beth Parkhurst of the Heritage Fund, that made it all happen.

Seeds are just seeds. They are necessary blessings. It is the pollen - with the watering and the sunshine of many people - which launched this endowment and which will serve the people of this special place for time to come.