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Forever Rush County halfway to goal; fundraising continues through 2020
COURTESY PHOTO Kara Jecha of Timken, left, and Christy Tustin, Golden Belt Community Foundation executive director, attend a recent Rush County Fair to tell the story of Forever Rush County.

Even though Forever Rush County has reached the half-way mark to establishing a $100,000 endowment fund at the Golden Belt Community Foundation, the group is not taking a breather.

Instead, it is energized to raise the next $50,000, Committee Chair Kara Jecha of Timken said.

“Raising enough to get us to the half-way point gives us even more incentive to keep working for the other half,” Jecha said. “Our committee members should be commended for their commitment and support.”

Originally, Forever Rush County asked for help in setting up a $50,000 endowment. But the GBCF challenged them to double that.

“We readily accepted the challenge, which includes a dollar-for-dollar match from the Foundation,” said Jecha, a life-time Rush County resident. “When we learned that generous donors are willing to support a $100,000 Rush County endowment, we didn’t hesitate to accept the challenge.”

The matching funds are donated by the Glenn and Elaine Mull Family Fund at GBCF. This match is in effect until Dec. 31, 2020.

“We will continue talking to potential donors, who have been receptive to learning more about Forever Rush County,” Jecha noted. “We are gratified that they are at least willing to listen. They have been gracious in taking the time to hear our story.

“Rush County has an amazing opportunity to build an endowment and leave funding for future generations,” she added. “An endowment is forever.”

While no one can define exactly what Rush County’s needs will be in the future, the endowment can be used in a variety of areas. Examples include parks and playgrounds; libraries and education; health and social services; long-term care; and city projects.

Jecha is helping spearhead this initiative because “Rush County is my home. I grew up in rural Albert and want future generations to have the same benefits I had growing up. We want people to continue to live, work and play here.”

Jecha and her husband, Jay, pledged the first $1,000 to this initiative and are pledging the last $1,000. “We believe having ‘skin in the game’ is fundamental to show we are serious about attaining success. Others have put their heart and soul into this, and we have God as our pilot.”

The committee chair also noted that the GBCF has been “a great partner. We are not on our own in setting up the endowment.”

Christy Tustin, GBCF executive director, has collaborated with Jecha to spread the word through personal visits, phone calls and community events.

“Raising the first half of the goal is tremendous progress,” Tustin said. “Kara and the committee have been wonderful champions for the effort by sharing the message about supporting Rush County far into the future.”

They understand the value of endowments, which are funds set aside for the long-term benefit of an organization or community, Tustin said. The principal amount is permanently protected, while the fund’s income supports charitable causes.

Tustin pointed out that the Giving Tuesday campaign, which runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 3, would be a great time to donate to Forever Rush County, as well as other Rush County organizations.

“Building community endowments requires a sort of leap of faith because it takes people willing to invest for the long-term without seeing immediate results sometimes,” Tustin said. “As the endowment grows over time, we will be able to demonstrate how much it will benefit programs across Rush County.

“It takes a group of people willing to step forward and champion the cause. This initiative would not have been nearly as successful without this local support. It is obvious that people care very much about Rush County and its future.”

Golden Belt Community Foundation serves Barton, Pawnee, Rush, and Stafford counties. For more information, call 620-792-3000 or visit its website