Donor Stories from the The Dayton Foundation’s 2007-2008 "I Believe!" Partners

Helen and Chuck Abramovitz: Dayton Means the Freedom to Be

Karen and Dale Medford: A Passion for Place and for Giving

The Links: Empowering the Region Through Service and Friendship

Charles M. Uhl, Jr., and Family: Investing in One's Home

Kathy Rupp: Establishing Roots in the Community"

Toni and Bill Winger: Building a Stronger Community

Helen and Charles Abramovitz: Dayton Means the Freedom to Be

Helen and Charles AbramovitzCharles Abramovitz came of age in Pennsylvania in 1940. His dream to become a chemical engineer ended when he learned he wasn't eligible for a scholarship or to be hired by the big company in the state employing chemical engineers – because he was Jewish. At the age of 18, he realigned his dreams to a career path that was open to Jews, that of a civil engineer.

In 1939, during the rise of the Nazis in Eastern Europe, Helen Abramovitz, at 12, was taken by her mother from her homeland of Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) to France. From there she went to America to join her father and escape the growing tide of Nazi anti-Semitism. She learned independence and resourcefulness in her new American life and went on to college to become an occupational therapist and later, a family therapist. Like her husband, Chuck, she found Dayton "an open, welcoming community."

“Each of us has a responsibility to the rest of the community,” said Chuck Abramovitz, Dayton Foundation donor and former Governing Board member.

"I felt I belonged," Chuck Abramovitz said, "that I had a place here that was different. There were things I could do in Dayton and make a difference." Added Helen, "it gave us a manageable place to raise our children, earn a master's degree in counseling and work in a profession I enjoyed. Today I can be active while retired from my profession, helping children in the juvenile court system, aiding The Oak Tree Corner, which assists young people dealing with severe loss, as well as tutoring children."

Chuck Abramovitz is committed to volunteerism as well, following his many successful years at Woolpert Consultants, where he was the Managing Partner. Serving on numerous not-for-profit boards and campaigns and being an active Dayton Foundation Governing Board member for many years, even leading Foundation leadership initiatives as an Emeritus Board member, he sees many opportunities for citizens to get involved and work to better their community.

One of those opportunities is philanthropic, and the Abramovitzes have chosen to do this through The Dayton Foundation. Why did they establish charitable funds at the Foundation? "Because of trust," he said. "If an organization is going to handle whatever your legacy will be, trust is the key. The Dayton Foundation has processes for handling endowments expertly. And none of us really knows what the greatest community needs are now, let alone in the future. That's what the Foundation was established to do."

Among the special places in their hearts are the arts and United Way, "which funds based on need, not popularity," he said. "The arts is a passion that's always been part of us."

They both learned giving from their families and their synagogues. "My mother was the ultimate fundraiser," Chuck Abramovitz said. "If it was a good cause, she would raise funds for it. She walked from business to business to ask for funds. As a child, I used to listen from the top of the stairs as my father ran the Jewish community out of our dining room during the height of the Depression. When I was 12, he would wake me up to come operate the mimeograph to get out communications." He chuckled at the memory. "Giving is just a way of life," Helen Abramovitz added. "It's what you're supposed to do. If you had it, you gave it." To her, it was that simple.

“Giving is just a way of life. It's what you're supposed to do. If you had it, you gave it,” said Helen Abramovitz, Dayton Foundation donor.

Giving positively affects the giver, Chuck Abramovitz believes. He has seen people transformed by their own generous acts. "Giving helps people to be able to make change. I know I'm a happier, more contented individual, because I give."

It's also helped the Abramovitzes to raise three daughters "who are giving people in spirit and in practice," Helen Abramovitz said. "We're very proud of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and the people they've become."

"At times in your life, you can give best through your time and efforts. At other times, it may be through money. At some other point, it may be a combination," he said. "But each of us has a responsibility to the rest of the community. Judaism teaches us 'tikkun olam,' which means to repair the world. It's a big task. But do it for yourself, your family, your community."

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Dale and Karen Medford: A Passion for Place and for Giving

Dale and Karen MedfordFor Karen and Dale Medford, it was love at first sight. They grew up just a block from one another in West Carrollton, but they didn't meet until they were in high school. "Dale was our paper boy – an award-winning paperboy," Karen Medford said with a smile. "Then we were in the same place at the same time after a ballgame at West Carrollton High School and went on a date. We were both smitten. I remember telling my mother, 'It was bells and whistles.'"

They later married and moved to Beavercreek Twp. They raised two beautiful daughters, whom Karen Medford, a stay-at-home mom, "brought to my many volunteer commitments." But that act of necessity for a busy, young mother may have been the very thing that instilled in her daughters, Bethany and Kristina, a love of giving.

“And the arts are wonderful here. We need to maintain them, because they can just go away if we don't support them,” said Karen Medford, Dayton Foundation donor.

Karen Medford's mother likewise taught her. "My mom tied my coins for church into a corner of my hanky and always told me it's important to give an offering. She was forever driving people places, doing whatever she could to help someone else."

Early in her volunteer activities, she found Dayton to be a community open to anyone who wanted to participate. "Volunteering gave me many opportunities to take on leadership roles, which have come to be defining for me as an adult," she said. "I remember one year, when I was asked to chair the Opera Ball. I didn't know if I could carry it off, but others had faith in me. I came to realize that with a good team and by staying focused I could accomplish what was needed of me."

Said Dale Medford, "I also learned about giving early from my church and my family." His parents were active in their church and contributed both money and time – washing the church windows, mowing the church lawn. And so it is that one generation teaches another.

Discussing their strong belief in the importance of community involvement, he said, "It's easy to be negative if you're not involved. But if you give something to a charity, you become a cheerleader for it – and that gets you involved. And it's important to be willing to set an example – we couldn't ask others to give if we hadn't done our part."

“The region has core strengths. It's a great place to raise a family, with excellent educational institutions and companies, and so much to do,” said Dale Medford, Dayton Foundation donor and former executive vice president and chief financial officer of The Reynolds and Reynolds Company.

Their giving through The Dayton Foundation since 1992 has shown them that the Foundation "is not an end in itself, but a tool to encourage philanthropy in the community," said Dale Medford, former Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Reynolds and Reynolds Company. "They can help maximize donations and provide strong endowment capacity for nonprofits. Plus, they have an outstanding board – first class – a strong staff and a get-it-done mentality. The Foundation makes sure that everything is done to the highest level and with the highest ethics."

While retired and snowbirds now, the Medfords maintain their home and their commitment to Dayton and continue to appreciate the quality of life that the Dayton area always has afforded their family. "We may not have the mountains or the seashore, but it's much more expensive and hectic there," Dale Medford said. "Here you can spend more time with your family without the stresses and costs you have elsewhere. The region has core strengths. It's a great place to raise a family, with excellent educational institutions and companies, and so much to do."

"And the arts are wonderful here," Karen Medford added. "One of my passions is the arts, because it makes life fun and lifts the spirits. It infuses the soul of the community. We need to maintain them, because they can just go away if we don't support them."

"I really believe it's important to leave a place that's better than it would have been without you. We need to recognize that we're blessed and get involved in worthwhile causes," he said.

"It could be supporting a new neonatal intensive care unit," she concluded, "or putting on a children's opera. Everyone has something they're passionate about. Everyone can do something."

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The Links: Empowering the Region Through Service and Friendship

Janice AllenThe name of The Dayton Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, not only represents a chain of friendship among African-American women, but also a chain of powerful and purposeful service to the community.

"Helping those that are less fortunate, particularly young people, is an important part of The Links mission. It's what being a member of the Dayton community is all about," said Janice Allen, Chapter president. Established in 1946, The Links is one of the nation's oldest and largest volunteer service organizations, and the Dayton Chapter is said to be among the best in the country. Recently at The Links area conference in Kansas City, the chapter received third place for their service project, "Young Parents Links to Life."

Born and raised in Dayton, Ms. Allen has seen the area change in many ways. "Dayton is a rich and diverse community comprised of people with many talents, good hearts and a will to survive and embrace the American dream," she said. "There are so many good family-oriented things happening in Dayton – RiverScape and the Dayton Dragons to name two – and we're revitalizing our core neighborhoods. The Wright Dunbar district is a beautiful example of this."

"My vision for the community," she continued, "is that all citizens be treated equitably, that health care and other services be readily available and that we have activities for youth that enhance their growth."

“Dayton is a rich and diverse community comprised of people with many talents, good hearts and a will to survive and embrace the American dream,“ said Janice Allen, Dayton Foundation donor and president of The Dayton Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.

Over the years, the Dayton Chapter, has sponsored programs to address these issues, as well as tissue and organ donation, women's health, economic empowerment and most recently teen pregnancy prevention.

"The key to our community's success is for people to get involved," said Ms. Allen.

Reba Gaston, a 30-year member and former president of Links, Incorporated, shares this feeling. "Anyone can help," said Mrs. Gaston. "Don't sit and wait for someone else to do it. Ask yourself how you can help make a difference in our community."

Also a native Daytonian, Mrs. Gaston learned early on to follow her parents' example of commitment to the community and the importance of giving back. At age 92, her passion for Dayton and her desire to help others are as strong as ever.

"The Dayton community is a vibrant area with opportunities for anyone willing to take them," said Mrs. Gaston, whose father, Dr. Lloyd Cox, was Dayton's second African-American physician. "Sinclair Community College, for example, provides a very affordable and accessible opportunity to further one's education."

To help African-American students achieve their educational dreams, the Dayton Chapter of The Links established an endowed fund at The Dayton Foundation in 1993 to provide college scholarships.

The fund just made sense," said Ms. Allen. "It provides our members with another avenue for giving back to Dayton and enables us to leave a legacy of giving for generations to come."

“Don't sit and wait for someone else to do it. Ask yourself how you can help make a difference in our community,” said Reba Gaston, a 30-year member and former president of The Dayton Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.

The Dayton Chapter is grateful for The Dayton Foundation's assistance in establishing its fund and in administering the scholarships. "The Foundation's staff are experts in facilitating charitable giving," said Ms. Allen. "They provide us with the information and resources we need to award grants to those most in need."

Like Mrs. Gaston, Janice Allen was raised with the belief that the more you give the more you shall receive.

"I have lived by that motto all of my life," said Janice Allen. "In a lot of ways we've become a 'me' society. What have you done for me lately? That's true in Dayton, as well. But by working together to create a better and stronger Dayton everyone benefits, not just the chosen few. It only takes one to get the ball rolling and to make a difference."

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Charles M. Uhl, Jr., and Family: Investing in One's Home

Charles M. Uhl, Jr.For Charles M. Uhl, Jr., and his three daughters, giving back to their community connects them as a family, as well as to the places they call home.

After living in Greenfield, Ohio, for 79 years, Charles Uhl moved to Centerville in 2002 to be closer his daughters, Denise Uhl Jenkins and Annette Uhl Poth, both of whom reside in Beavercreek, and Michele Uhl Born, who lives in Cincinnati.

"Greenfield is a very small town, about 5,000 residents," said Charles Uhl, who joined his father in the family insurance business in 1947 and retired 38 years later as the President of the Charles M. Uhl Agency, Inc. "I've traveled many places, but I really enjoy the Dayton area."

Denise Jenkins considers Dayton home after living here nearly 30 years. "The University of Dayton and city environments introduced me to the richness of diversity not experienced in a small rural, community. I learned the value of living and working in a diverse community," she said.

“Dayton provides the best of both worlds - the opportunity to experience a variety of cultures, but it still has the feeling of a closer-knit community,” said Charles Uhl, Dayton Foundation donor and retired president of the Charles M. Uhl Agency, Inc.

Michele Born agrees. "There are some nice features about living in a small town where everyone knows your name and you can walk just about anywhere. However, it's very much like living in a cocoon," she said.

"Dayton has the best of both worlds, really – the opportunity to experience a variety of cultures, but it still has the feeling of a closer-knit community," said Charles Uhl, who now enjoys his home at Bethany Village's Homestead where he walks up to six miles a day.

What impresses Annette Poth about Dayton is the strong leadership and strong sense of pride that exists. "So many people invest their time and energy to make Dayton a better place," she said. "Working at Kettering Medical Center for several years, I was fortunate to be surrounded by many of the community's philanthropic leaders. These extraordinary people, and others like them, have made important contributions in our community, both in time and in dollars. By giving our time, talents and treasure, we can have an extraordinary impact."

To help fulfill his philanthropic wishes and to honor his wife Teresa D. Uhl, who passed away in 1984, Charles Uhl established The Charles M. Uhl, Jr., and Teresa D. Uhl Family Foundation through The Dayton Foundation in 2003.

"I'm very pleased with The Dayton Foundation and what they have done for me and my family. They do a tremendous job and have an outstanding reputation," he said. "I like that I can have my family involved in our fund. It's an excellent service."

Through grants from their fund, the Uhls have supported a literacy program for the Dayton Metro Library, purchased a new piano for the residents of Linden House at Bethany Village and funded a landscaping project for the Greenfield Exempted Village Schools, among other things. "As a family, we've been able to support projects of all sizes and purposes, both in Dayton and elsewhere as we become aware of needs. That's the beauty of our fund through The Dayton Foundation," said Charles Uhl.

“The University of Dayton and city environments introduced me to the richness of diversity not experienced in a small, rural community,” said Denise Uhl Jenkins.

With his daughters also serving as advisors to the fund, Charles Uhl is carrying on his family's philosophy for giving back to the community. "I was raised very well and taught to do what was right," said Charles Uhl. "I was blessed to earn a good living and make wise investment decisions. I feel good that I can help others and leave a legacy for my family."

"It is a privilege to give where and when it is needed," Denise Jenkins added. "Individuals and communities have opportunities to strengthen when we, as individuals and as a family, share our gifts. We are confident this fund will continue to model this philosophy for future generations of our family."

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Kathy Rupp: Establishing Roots in the Community

Kathy Rupp A love for ice hockey led Kathleen and Patrick Rupp to Dayton more than 40 years ago, but the community's small-town feeling and friendly atmosphere enticed the Rupps to stay and raise their family.

"We both grew up in big cities, but Dayton is where we felt most comfortable," said Kathy Rupp. "Of all the places we lived, Dayton was the place we wanted to make our home. After seven years of Pat playing professional hockey in Dayton, we knew that we had made our roots in this community."

Before founding Pat Rupp & Associates, a financial planning firm in Dayton, Pat Rupp played for the Dayton Gems and on the 1964 and 1968 U.S. Olympic Hockey Teams. He continued to play hockey in his spare time until he passed away in 2006.

Kathy Rupp attributed her and Pat's religious and modest upbringings for their desire to help others. "When you don't have much growing up and find yourself earning a good living later in life, you want to do more to help those in need," she said.

"Young people today feel that they are entitled to things," she continued. "In my generation, we were taught that we had to work for what we wanted. Things didn't come easy to us. It's our responsibility to teach the next generation the importance of helping others who are less fortunate. By sharing what you earn with others in need, you develop a greater sense of respect for yourself and for your community. It connects you to your community."

“By sharing what you earn with others in need, you develop a greater sense of respect for yourself and your community,” said Kathy Rupp, Dayton Foundation donor.

As a senior financial advisor, Pat Rupp never recommended anything to his clients unless he believed it was the right thing to do, according to Kathy Rupp. "That's why he chose to open our endowed fund at The Dayton Foundation first," she said. "He felt that if it wasn't good enough for him, it wasn't good enough for his clients. His clients were always number one."

And what did Pat think of the Foundation and his fund?

"Fabulous," said Kathy Rupp. "The Foundation provided a good service and sound financial management, which is why he wholeheartedly recommended it to his clients. The Foundation makes it so easy to give. They take care of everything for me, including the time-consuming processes of managing the fund and assuring the charitable status of the organizations I want to support."

Kathy Rupp is making sure that her and her husband's legacy lives on through grants awarded from their fund, including several grants she has made to the Children's Discovery Garden at Five Rivers MetroParks' Wegerzyn Garden.

"Of all the places that we lived, Dayton was the place we wanted to make our home," said Kathy Rupp

"Pat and I would stroll through the park every day and watch as the children's garden took shape," she said. "Watching it being built, Pat and I felt like we were a part of its development. He passed away before the garden was completed, but I know these grants are what Pat would have wanted to do to help maintain the garden for our community's children, now and in the future."

"Dayton has been a good home to us and to our children," she continued "I'm glad that our fund has enabled us to give back to our community, which has been good to us. I'm grateful that I'm fulfilling Pat's legacy."

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Bill and Toni Winger: Building a Stronger Community

William and Toni WingerAlthough Carolyn (Toni) and William Winger now divide their time between Kettering and Traverse City, Michigan, they still call the Greater Dayton area home and have for more than 60 years.

"Dayton is a wonderful city and just the right size," said Bill Winger, who founded Hyde Park Electronics in 1963 and retired in 2003 after selling the company. "There is so much to do in this area, so many places to visit and so many opportunities to participate in the community. Our region's arts organizations outshine many of those in larger cities. In Dayton you also don't have to spend half your day driving to get from one part of the city to another."

"This is a great place to live and raise a family," added Toni Winger, who, along with her husband, raised two children in this area. "The people are so warm and caring. The future of our community lies within the people."

A longtime community volunteer, Toni Winger has a special place in her heart for the Dayton Opera, Opera Guild of Dayton and Dayton History. She currently serves as a board member for all three organizations, as well as several other local groups.

“The people are so warm and caring. The future of our community lies within the people,” said Toni Winger, Dayton Foundation donor and community volunteer.

"I'm very passionate about many causes," she said. "Giving is second nature to me and I was always taught to share. But giving doesn't always mean through financial contributions. Volunteering is another important way you can give back to your community."

She believes that when you give to an organization, whether through time or money, you invest in its future, become a part of the organization and want to see it flourish.

"It's within each of us to make our community the best that it can be," she said. "We all have the power and the responsibility to make a better community for ourselves, our families and our fellow residents. One person only may be able to afford a brick, but with enough people buying bricks and others putting them together, it won't be long before you can build a building."

“There is so much to do in this area, so many places to visit and so many opportunities to participate in the community,” said Bill Winger, Dayton Foundation donor and founder of Hyde Park Electronics.

For the Wingers, opening charitable funds through The Dayton Foundation has helped them in this process. "The Dayton Foundation was our first choice, because it is structured to do everything we need, including administering the fund and awarding gifts to charities," said Bill Winger. "Managing our funds is far more practical and economical than trying to run a private foundation, and we're assured that our charitable legacy will continue after we are gone. It also gives us peace of mind knowing that our funds are monitored carefully."

Toni Winger agrees. "By having our son and daughter and their families involved with our fund, we know our charitable support to the organizations that are important to us as a family will continue long into the future."

The Wingers also have planned to support several local not-for-profit organizations through future charitable bequests. "We realize that we could make a big splash by giving a larger amount to just one organization, but there are so many worthwhile organizations in our area. We believe that they all deserve our support, for they add strength to the fiber that is Dayton," said Toni Winger.

For recent news and updates about The Dayton Foundation, read our press releases online.

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File date: 10.14.14


Helen Jones-Kelley

“It’s important to me that my children understand just how much their actions can help others, and why they must give back some part of themselves to the community.”
– Helen Jones-Kelley, Governing Board member and donor, on the Helen and Tom Kelley Family Fund.

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