The year was 1956 and Glendale was in the midst of celebrating 50 years of cityhood with a special parade and other events when Irene Patterson and attorney Alice Moore invited civic leaders, business and professional men and women and philanthropists to a gathering at Patterson’s home.
Their goal was to form a community fund for the rapidly growing city, a fund structured so that anyone could donate any amount—small or large.
Now, 55 years after its founding, the Glendale Community Foundation has rebranded itself as the Community Foundation of the Verdugos and is a significant source of assistance to our schools and other nonprofits.
Much of the credit goes to the two women who were inspired by the events surrounding the city’s 50th celebration.
“The two guiding lights were tireless in their efforts in launching the foundation,” wrote Betty Preston Oiler in the Glendale News-Press, Nov. 7, 1996.
Interestingly, the first contribution, $3,000, came from Patterson’s neighbor, John Bruecker, who was new to the city. He had done well with his design of an electric razor and chose to retire in Glendale. (See Verdugo Views, Aug. 15, 2008 for more on Bruecker.) He was a very generous philanthropist to his adopted city.
A board of 15 trustees directed the new fund; and since early donations were small, expenses were kept to a minimum. The first executive director, Don York, served without pay for some time. Trustees publicized the fund at service clubs, community organizations and social events.
News-Press photographer Sal Felix volunteered to design the logo — two rows of tall palm trees stretching out toward the Verdugo Mountains in the background — which identified the foundation for many years.
The foundation’s growth was slow at first. It was 10 years before another sizeable gift, $10,000, was made. But in between, many smaller gifts were received.
Another significant donation came from Pearl Gray, who had no heirs. Hearing of the foundation through her attorney, Alice Moore, she willed her home to the foundation and the resulting funds formed the Pearl Gray Fund from which loans are made — without interest — to local college students. As those loans are repaid, they are reinvested to earn funds for future students.
All the gifts were invested very conservatively, according to a 1990-91 newsletter issued by the late Tom Miller, who was the executive director for many years.
“The principal was kept intact, the interest was drawn off and granted to various charities in town in perpetuity,” he wrote.
Ruth Charles, who served on the board 20 years ago, said the foundation was much smaller than it is now.
“We were trying so hard to increase the assets,” she said.
The foundation celebrated its 25th year in 1981 with assets of approximately $250,000.
“Today, through wise growth-and-investment management by its board, the foundation manages fund assets of more than 8.5 million dollars,” according to Chief Executive Officer Edna Karinski.
Charles said she served on the board for two consecutive terms.
“I enjoyed every moment. It was a very rewarding use of my volunteer hours. Glendale has been and continues to be greatly enriched by this community foundation.”
Katherine Yamada’s column runs every Sunday. To contact her, call features editor Joyce Rudolph at (818) 637-3241. For more information on Glendale’s history, visit the Glendale Historical Society’s web page: www.glendalehistorical.org; call the reference desk at the Central Library at (818) 548-2027; or call (818) 548-2037 to make an appointment to visit the Special Collections Room at Central from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
To The Readers:
Many people have donated to the community foundation during the past 55 years. Records of donors have been kept and their names recorded in a “Book of Memory” containing the names of people honored by their families and friends, according to the Glendale News-Press in its Nov, 7, 1996 edition. The book is often on display in the city’s libraries and financial institutions. It is currently at the Glendale Central Library on Harvard Street.
The foundation will celebrate its 55 year of service to Glendale at its annual meeting in April.