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Family's good fortune in business turns into holiday surprise


When Pam Perrin Kostoff recalls the history of Perrin Asphalt Company, she always comes back to a transformative moment in the 1980s. "It was the '80s," she said. "St. Eugene's Church needed its parking lot done; it was just seal coating and striping."

But, just as many businesses were at the time, Perrin Asphalt was struggling. 

So were her parents. 

"They did not have the time or money to donate to that," she said, "but they did it anyway. And that changed the history of the Perrin family and Perrin Asphalt."

Fast forward 30 years to 2015, and Perrin Asphalt had one of its most profitable years ever. But as Pam's parents always told her, with success comes duty. So, she turned to one of her most trusted advisors to help her turn that profit into something of a present in Pam and Charlie Perrin's name.

"Pam called me and said they wanted to do something for their parents' benefit, and they wanted to do something for the community," said Bill Choler, a CPA for CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, who became the company's financial advisor in 2004.

At first, the family wanted to set up their own foundation, which he quickly advised against due to the amount of administrative work involved.

"My question to him was, 'How can we set this up?' And his response was, 'You don't want to do that. You want to call Akron Community Foundation because the paperwork is going to be too overwhelming,'" Kostoff said. "Bill is quite an advisor for us."

Sound advice
Choler pointed out that a donor-advised fund could accomplish everything she and her siblings wanted "with much less expense than setting up their own nonprofit."

"The time commitment and the expense of setting up a foundation would far outweigh the benefits," Choler said. "With the administrative work handled by (Akron Community) Foundation, it enables the Perrin family to focus their efforts on helping the community."

While there are a variety of ways to give back, Choler knew he needed to find one that matched the reputation the Perrins had built over the years. "There are a lot of (options) available, but Akron Community Foundation is very well-respected in the community, very well-thought-of and very well-managed. So there was no question that was the one we wanted them to go to. It gives a lot of flexibility to the fundholder," he said.

Philanthropy made easy
Kostoff was pleased with the simplicity of setting up her parents' fund. "It was a half-hour meeting with Laura Lederer (vice president and chief development officer), and there really wasn't a whole lot for us to think about," she said.

Plus, the trust between the advisor and family made their decision easy: Choler, a family friend, has known the Perrins since his daughter and Charlie's granddaughter attended fifth grade together. 

Sometimes it's difficult to gauge at what point clients are ready for philanthropy, as it varies on a case-by-case basis, Choler said. But, when they're ready, setting up a fund at the community foundation is an easy way to meet his clients' objectives. 

It's also flexible.

"Some want scholarships; some have long-term goals of what they want to do," he explained. "So they could put money aside through the foundation and meet that long-term goal."

A holiday to remember
To surprise her parents' with news of the fund, the family held a Christmas party last year in Cuyahoga Falls with about 60 family members who, together, presented them with a check made out to the Charles and Patricia Perrin Family Fund of Akron Community Foundation.

"Nearly the whole family was there," said Kostoff. "It was extremely emotional."

"Their parents were really thrilled they set the (fund) up on their behalf," said Choler. 

When asked what they thought of their unique gift, the Perrin parents were succinct: "There were many tears," said Patricia. "It was wonderful. Such a big surprise," Charlie added.

Family legacy
Charlie and Patricia say they already donate to organizations like the Haven of Rest homeless shelter and Good Neighbors food pantry in Goodyear Heights, and they look forward to giving under the name of their new fund.

Because of their strong family ties, Kostoff and her sister, Kim Hengle, anticipate the fund benefiting family-related nonprofits like Pregnancy Care and Catholic Services. Of her mother, Kostoff said, "She wants to help. She wants to give to young families and help them raise their own families."

Kostoff can't think of a better example of how to raise a family than the one set by her parents, Charles and Patricia Perrin.

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