Our Storybook

Giving transforms lives. Explore our storybook to see how your gifts create positive change.


Liberating the Love Within Your Heart - Tenfold

Joe* and Tyler met in Drafting class, where they enjoyed talking about the Colts and Cubs and doing group projects. Drafting was the highlight of Joe's schedule that year, thanks to Tyler. Struggling with low self-esteem, Joe looked to Tyler's consistent faith and encouragement to help him get through tough times. Joe said, "Tyler was just being Tyler" — the kind of person who inspires positivity, generosity, and understanding by modeling those qualities himself.

Devastatingly, Tyler passed away during his senior year at Pendleton Heights. As a tribute to his memory, his family created a scholarship to celebrate Tyler's giving spirit. They attributed this to the many role models in Tyler's own life — family members, pastor, teachers — who taught him the joy of giving.

Read More: Liberating the Love Within Your Heart - Tenfold

After the Tornado

First, she realized her bird feeders were gone.

Betty had looked out this kitchen window for seven decades, but she had never seen the neighbor’s house. Until ten minutes before, massive century-old trees shielded her view with shaded protection. The tornado had taken them in moments. Betty soon realized that the tornado had also taken her confidence. Could she manage the cleanup? Afford the repairs? The bigger question nagged at her: could she still live independently?

Sara had an emergency kit on the hook by the basement stairs. As a single mom, she didn’t leave anything to chance. Yet, it didn’t occur to her that she might be on the road with all the kids when a tornado formed over their car. She didn’t have a plan for this. Nobody was hurt, but she was shaken by the idea that their health and safety really just boiled down to dumb luck. Sometimes that made her grateful, but often it just made her feel hopeless- or angry.

Read More: After the Tornado

Better Together Recovery Fund

On Memorial Day of 2019, a tornado cut a path through Pendleton, damaging 500 homes and toppling many hudreds of trees throughout the historic district and Falls Park. In the days following, South Madison Community Foundation was instrumental in convening, hosting, and facilitating a Long Term Recovery Group that would work for 18 months to assist residents in recovering from the lingering effects of the tornado. In this work, the Long Term Recovery Group:

  • Assisted with ongoing support of 160 Unmet Needs cases.
  • Developed relationships with United Way of Madison County (Community Organizations Active in Disaster), Madison County Emergency Management, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, and Indiana VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster). Relationships developed in these organizations have positioned the local community to best support citizens in future disasters, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Cooperated in the production of a guide to best practices for community recovery. 
  • Helped secure disaster funding and volunteer service from the Small Business Administration, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the South Madison Community Foundation, United Way of Madison County (COAD), and many corporate neighbors and church groups.
  • "Pendleton Tree Recovery" project planted 300 new trees throughout residences and Falls Park. The project was a collaborative effort between the Foundation, Town of Pendleton, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Pendleton Tree Commission, Falls Park, Friends of Falls Park, International Paper, and the Arbor Day Foundation. In the project, over 400 volunteers planted trees in one day.

Thanks to a generous $2 for $1 match offered during the tornado recovery timeline, donations made to the "Better Together Recovery Fund," an unrestricted endowment established at the Community Foundation, grants to the community will be made each year to the people, places, and projects that illustrate the community spirit evidenced during the tornado recovery.

Read More: Better Together Recovery Fund

Honoring Charlene Daugherty

Charlene Daugherty wasn't afraid to get a little dirty to make Pendleton green and pretty.

Charlene's vision of seasonally delightful trees and riotous blossoms form the set on which life's moments play out for visitors to Falls Park.

Charlene delighted in taking care of the green expanses of the park, forming the heart of the community through places where generations of local residents have met, played, grown, and connected. Lives have been lived and milestones celebrated against the green backdrop of a mature tree canopy, accompanied by the sounds of rushing water and children’s laughter.

Charlene treated Falls Park like an extension of her own yard and garden. Now, following the Memorial Day tornado that damaged the Park and its familiar, leafy skyline, we know what Charlene would be doing. Charlene would be digging. She would be planting. She would be pruning. She would be designing the future.

If you’d like to honor Charlene’s spirit and follow in her occasionally muddy footprints, please consider a gift in her memory.

Gifts will be designated for new tree stock to help re-green Falls Park.

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Please note “Charlene” in the notes field so we may allocate your gift appropriately.

Foghorn Farms Fountain Renovation

As a child living on a farm halfway between Pendleton and Lapel during the Great Depression, Warren Huntzinger lived for the days his family would visit town. If they visited Pendleton, Warren could wade in the creek near the Falls and run free on the playground with the kids who lived in town.

The best days were the ones when the Huntzingers would while away the evening with a shady picnic, hesitating long enough to catch a phenomenal show at dusk. That’s when the electric lights in the tiered fountain came on, illuminating the water in prismatic red, blue, and green light. Warren recalled, “I had never seen anything like it. It was magical.”

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Sprinkle That Stuff Everywhere!

Last week, one of the Foundation Board members and I volunteered for an event produced by our colleagues at United Way of Madison County. The job description for the volunteer post at Blast Off to Kindergarten had only one requirement: 'Must want to have fun!". We felt qualified.

Read More: Sprinkle That Stuff Everywhere!

The Mary Anne Vonderschmitt Fund in memory of Jeanne Smith

Following a visit with Jeanne Smith and her nine children, another young mother marveled at the skillful management of the household. “Jeanne possessed skills to make family life run like clockwork,” observed her friend; “all the children sat, well-mannered and well-organized, peacefully and politely having their lunch.” A full calendar of school activities and sporting events filled the days and the years, reinforcing the value of education and community. After seeing nine children through college graduation, Jeanne and her husband, former childhood sweethearts, travelled extensively, cheered their favorite teams, volunteered, and supported many charitable causes. After 86 years of life well lived, Jeanne Smith passed away during the summer of 2015.

“A guiding philosophy in my mother’s life was the belief that each of us is created to make a difference in the lives of others. That’s the spirit I want to honor with this gift,” remarked Mary Anne Vonderschmitt when she established a fund in her mother’s memory at the South Madison Community Foundation.

Read More: The Mary Anne Vonderschmitt Fund in memory of Jeanne Smith

George and Nelle Mingle Memorial Fund

We've all heard the phrase "pay it forward." The philosophy behind this simple phrase is that acts of kindness, no matter how small, when strung together and multiplied by millions of people can literally change the world for the better. George Mingle and his wife, Nelle, were shining examples of this philosophy. George was involved in his community. He was deeply involved in his church, was enlisted in the Navy Reserves, was an active member of the Masonic Lodge and the Shrine Club, and was involved in neighborhood watch and rural youth development. He fed the ducks at Falls Park and visited with friends to talk about their gardens.

Read More: George and Nelle Mingle Memorial Fund