On June 17, 2014, a small group of Bath residents took the first step in creating an enduring source of support for the Bath community.
Together, seven couples collectively donated $10,000 to start the fund, which would support the community they live in and love. It was the culmination of years of planning.
"There had been discussions about creating a community fund in Bath for years, and a group of us started researching what it would take to start a fund," said Nadine Clar, past president of the Bath Homeowners Association and a former member of Bath Community Fund's advisory board.
They soon decided that becoming an affiliate of Akron Community Foundation was the best way to protect and grow the fund's assets.
"Our research showed that endowment funds at Akron Community Foundation generate a predictable stream of income," said Dr. Robert Hemphill, emeritus advisory board member. "The community foundation offers us the flexibility to meet immediate needs in Bath while ensuring the fund's assets are always preserved for our long-term mission."
The decision to create the fund was influenced by a number of factors, including statewide changes in inheritance tax regulations. These changes eliminated a revenue stream – which sometimes totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars annually – that had historically been used to benefit the community, whether through the purchase of safety equipment or retiring bonds early. By establishing an endowment fund, the founders were able to create a consistent source of support for the Bath community that will last forever.
A second motivating factor in their decision came in November 2013, after the death of one of Bath's most dedicated and beloved residents, Susie Wyatt.
"No one was more a part of Bath than Susie, whose life well lived in this community was a true legacy of family and community service, from her involvement in the Bath Pony Club and Bath Horse Show, to Bath Volunteers for Service and the Bath Country Journal," said Jody Miller Konstand, BCF's founding advisory board chair. "Bath Community Fund is a way that we can build on the kind of legacy that Susie embodied and championed."
Bath Community Fund was inspired by another endowment fund at Akron Community Foundation that also got its start in Bath. The Women's Endowment Fund, which was co-founded in 1993 by Bath resident Marie Covington, was created when 106 forward-thinking women donated $1,000 each to start a fund that would inspire, empower and educate Summit County's women and girls.
"We wanted to do something similar for the benefit of our own community that we live in and love," Konstand said.
In celebration of Bath's bicentennial, fund leaders launched the "For Bath, Forever" campaign to grow the endowment. Since then, the fund has grown to more than $1.1 million thanks to the generosity of more than 350 individuals, families and organizations. Their gifts will help strengthen the Bath community for generations to come through the fund's annual grants to a wide range of cultural, educational, recreational and social service programs.