WILMINGTON — There will be five recipients of the $23,000 available this year in the Charles F. Fischer Fund for children in Clinton County.
The recipients and the amounts they will get are Clinton County Job and Family Services (JFS) at $11,500, Clinton County Kids & Company at $2,875, Harvest of Gold Inc. at $2,875, The Murphy Theatre at $2,875, and Clinton County Services for the Homeless Inc. at $2,875.
The grant money is administered through the Clinton County Commissioners office. On Monday, commissioners awarded grants to all four of the not-for-profit private organizations that applied for funds. They also awarded half of the available dollars to Clinton County JFS, as they historically have done, said Clinton County Commissioners President Kerry R. Steed.
Charles “Charlie” F. Fischer, a lifelong bachelor, left most of his estate in trust to children in Clinton County when he died in 1971 at the age of 78. He was the pianist who accompanied silent movies at The Murphy Theatre from when it opened until the talkies appeared.
During deliberations Monday, Clinton County Commissioner Patrick Haley suggested Clinton County JFS probably is not quite as dependent on the funds they receive “as these other stand-alone programs are.”
Haley added he was not suggesting the JFS’ funding from the Fischer Fund be cut, but said on the other hand, if it doesn’t need the grant as much, there could be more money for some of the other organizations “because they are so dependent.”
The commissioner said in the past, some of the funding to the other organizations had been critical for their survival.
When Haley asked Steed what he thought, Steed recalled that former county commissioner Mike Curry — when Steed was newer to the board of commissioners — proposed that Steed read Fischer’s will again when Steed raised the idea of an even split among recipients.
Steed said Fischer “spells out the orphans of the county” as a specific group of children he was interested in assisting. Haley agreed with Steed’s statement.
All of the organizations being considered do great work for local children, often including disadvantaged children, Steed said. But Clinton County JFS specifically deals with foster children and similar situations, said Steed.
“I would want to stay at 50 percent at this time [for JFS],” Steed said.
In the written application from the homeless shelter, Executive Director Denise Stryker stated the shelter offers children residing there three well-balanced meals a day, transportation to the school the child is enrolled in, school supplies when needed, gifts and cake for birthdays and holidays, diapers and other things.
Harvest of Gold Executive Director Eleanor Harris stated in her application letter, “These are some very difficult times in our community for youth. They need the mentoring, counseling and recreation we have been able to provide for many years.” Harris added that last year Harvest of Gold funds from United Way were reduced by about $3,500.
The Murphy Theatre Development Director Leslie G. Keller-Biehl in her letter referred to the 50-plus children who participate in the theatre’s annual Christmas program, and she also pointed to shows there oriented to children as well as the Good Fairy Project’s summer arts workshops and camps, among other things.
Kids & Company Managing Director Lois A. Hock, in her letter, stated the Kids & Company’s theater programming offers scholarships for two summer drama camps for children and teens who otherwise would not be able to attend. This is the summer program’s 24th summer season.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.