Benevolent Fund has a new status

The Rappahannock Benevolent Fund is now an independent, state-chartered nonprofit corporation. It has 501(c)(3) status effective March 8, as provided by a recent letter of approval from the Internal Revenue Service. Its purpose, stated in its charter, is to serve “as a community relief organization serving the needy of Rappahannock County.” It is fully eligible to receive tax-deductible bequests, devices, transfers or gifts.

The Benevolent Fund got its start in December 2008 when three local churches and the county’s Department of Social Services, with the assistance of the William and Mary Greve Foundation, began to work collectively to assist individuals with emergency needs. Trinity Episcopal Church acted as the Fund’s fiscal agent and received contributions, disbursed funds and provided administrative support. The other two churches were Washington Baptist Church and Reynolds Memorial Baptist Church. Later, St. Peter Catholic Church joined the group. Funds were raised through the efforts of an ad-hoc support group, principally through the popular annual Celebrity Waiters Dinners, and Greve Foundation provided matching grants.

The Fund’s principal purpose is to provide assistance to Rappahannock individuals and families facing emergency situations and for whom no public assistance is available. Examples of such situations include: a) inability to obtain necessary medical supplies; b) pending eviction or loss of utility service; and c) lack of transportation to work. Payments are not made to the individual but are made instead to the provider of the service. Grants up to $400 can be awarded with the approval of two of the board members. Grants between $400 and $600 require the approval of three members and grants over $600 require the approval of five members. Frequent recipients of grants are provided or directed to financial counseling services and are encouraged to volunteer for community service.

The Rappahannock Benevolent Fund was and will remain a unique example of community service. It entails ecumenical cooperation among local churches, participation of a government agency and active support from lay persons, both church members and not.

The Benevolent Fund will continue to function very much as it has in the past. Clergy from the local churches and representative of the social services serve as board directors and approve or disapprove requests for assistance. The treasurer/secretary serves as a “public” representative but does not participate in the grant process. Trinity Church no longer serves as fiscal agent but does continue to provide administrative support.

The Fund board conducts two types of meetings. One is closed to the public since the matters discussed include confidential issues related to clients or other sensitive matters. Routine matters are discussed at the regular monthly meeting, which is held at noon on the second Wednesday of the month at Washington Baptist Church. The public is welcome at this meeting and, following the business discussions, there is frequently a wide-ranging discussion of the needs of Rappahannock citizens. A variety of initiatives have been identified and “spun-off” as a result.

For information or help, please contact one of the church board members (at St. Peter, 540-675-3432; Washington Baptist, 540-675-3326; Reynolds Memorial Baptist, 540-987-9101; Trinity, 540-675-3716), Sharon Pyne at the social services department (540-675-3313) or Bette Mahoney at treasurer@rappbenfund.org.

In addition to the monies it receives from the annual dinner and the Greve Foundation, the Benevolent Fund needs the support of individuals and other foundations and charities. Contributions can be sent to the Rappahannock Benefit Fund, PO Box 133, Washington, VA 22747 (no longer to Trinity Episcopal Church).

Bette Mahoney
Treasurer/secretary, Rappahannock Benevolent Fund

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