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A letter from an alumnus about the Class Fund for the Class of 1957

January 24, 2002

Fifteen years ago in response to a class tragedy we organized the Class Fund ’57. It has been a success in helping a number of us from ’57. Perhaps other individuals and classes may be interested.

One of our classmates died in such financial disaster that the family was destitute, owed debts to the extent they could not get their dentist to finish family work. This need was the genesis of our Fund.

Then-class president Fred Reynolds and I decided to go forward and create a mechanism to respond to such events. He asked me to carry forward. Fortunately, one other class had done a similar undertaking. At that time they were well into their 80s and were aiding 22 people per month. Fred remains a trustee of the CF today.

I made the following decision. First, we had to form a charity, get IRS approval, and raise funds. Bill Goldstein assigned an associate to the task and after a year and a half we had the IRS approval for our charity. To keep things simple, we began with three trustees, now five, soon to be seven. Early on we decided to include aid to family as well as classmates themselves.

We knew our limitations. We could not undertake high dollar illnesses or capitol needs. We didn’t have the dollars. What we could do was send monthly checks in the $500-$1,500 range (occasionally more) to supplement other sources of income (Social Security) and therefore provide an adequate if not luxurious support for those who were destitute and needy.

We also tried to give personal involvement as well as dollars where applicable. In every case we talk or write or visit or all of the above each individual or family. We want them to know we are there from them personally as well as financially. So it is a two-prong approach. This has been a positive aspect to them and us.

It has been a most satisfying endeavor, for we have found that in most cases the Fund has been able to act as a bridge to get people back on their feet and back working in society. Hence, they are off our rolls and, importantly, back in an active life. A few examples: a family, downsized, severe illness, IRS and medical debts hounding them, living in a rented apartment. We cleared the debts, and they are back self-supporting. A classmate dies; his wife has no skills. We paid for computer/ business training for eight months. She now has a job and is self-supporting.

A cancer patient, close to the final chapter. We will help his wife after, and are helping him with the medicine and his apartment rent. A deep depression, thoughts of ending; over three years we talked regularly and paid bills. Now back working, he made a donation to the fund recently. Another with lifelong health problems. He will be with us. There are more.

Funding is always tough. We started with peanuts. Two main sources are key. The rank and file of ’57, about 35% of our class, send in regular donations anywhere from $50-$1,000. This is our base. Additionally, a half dozen of our big hitters have given substantially, so our corpus has grown. When you see that in coming years need could swell to 20+ per month ($20,000+) we know we have a long way to go. Certainly, as we age our needs will increase.

So far, most of our big hitters have stayed on the sidelines, but we hope to change that. Bob Kent, a recent trustee, has done a great job of enlarging our funds. Unfortunately, Princeton has viewed us as competition to their fundraising and has not been supportive. Nevertheless, we are moving forward.

Other trustees include Bruce Rosborough and George White. We sought some geographical disparity, having one on the West Coast, one in the South, and two in New England and one who has three residences so he covers a lot of territory. This is a brief sketch of 15 years of effort. If any other classes are interested please contact me.

Sheppard Davis ’57
Virginia Beach, Va.

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