In the Wabash Valley, the desire to make a difference has been evident for well over a century. In 1882, citizens in Vigo County formed what was known as the Society for Organized Charity. The organization, considered to be the first federated fundraising effort in the Terre Haute area, pledged to improve the health and welfare of its residents. Over the years, citizens sharing in the aspiration to make a difference were instrumental in forming additional charitable fundraising efforts such as the Welfare League, the Terre Haute Community Fund and the Community Chest of Terre Haute Inc.
Beyond the boundaries of Vigo County, the spirit of giving flourished as a group of community-oriented professionals formed the Clay Civic Memorial Foundation in the fall of 1976. The organization, based upon the need for a community memorial fund, would serve to benefit charitable purposes in the geographic area.
Sullivan County also had its fair share of local philanthropists. In 1924, C.J. Sherman, president of Sullivan State Bank, created the Sherman Educational Fund – a charitable trust. Another community volunteer, Robert P. White, established in his will provisions for an educational trust known as the Robert P. White Elks Scholarship Fund. Each fund was created with the purpose of providing college and university scholarships to Sullivan County students who might not otherwise have had the means of pursuing their educational goals.
Today, the Wabash Valley Community Foundation is honored to continue a more than 130 year tradition of making a difference through each of the funds previously held by the Community Chest, Clay Civic Memorial Foundation and Sullivan State Bank. With over 25 years in operation, the Community Foundation has invested nearly $20 million back into Clay, Sullivan and Vigo counties through grants and scholarships. These grants and scholarships focus on the greater good by improving the quality of life for our current residents and future inhabitants, and continue the tradition of making a difference in the Wabash Valley.