The Greater Jefferson County Foundation was founded May 1st, 1975. The original donation was from the sale of the Bethany Home. This facility provided shelter for elderly people and young women who needed a place of comfort from abuse and homelessness. It was located on the west side of North Main Street across from the Jefferson County Courthouse. The proceeds were $75,000.00 and this became the seed money to establish the fund.
The original charter was to place any donated funds into certificates of deposit in the banks of Jefferson County. In the mid 1990’s Susan Williamson’s family was ready to make a major donation in the form of scholarship funds with the restriction that funds received by the foundation would need to be invested in equities, either mutual funds or individual stocks. The foundation board met and realized the opportunity for additional growth in the form of donations as well as market funds increase. The board approved this decision and since that time exceptional growth, under the stewardship of Dr. William C. Baumann, as financial ex-officio, has provided a continuing growth strategy that exceeds the benchmark of many other community foundations in the state of Iowa.
Two major areas are the focus of the foundation. The first being providing grants to the non-profit organizations of Fairfield and Jefferson County. In 1999 the grant total was $47,000 and in 2017 it reached a high total of $157,000. The second being scholarships to Fairfield High School and surrounding school district graduating seniors. This scholarship program began in 1988 with a donation of $20,000 and has grown to be in excess of a half of a million invested dollars. Both of these channels have had wonderful support of the donors to the foundation.
Memorial Donors of significance to these two channels include Charlotte Hammans, Ralph Perry Trust, Richard Harness, The Thoma-Williamson Family, The Robert & Evelyn Gamrath Family, Mildred Ferguson, Lee T. Gobble, John Jackson, Scott & Edith Jordan, Ella Adrian, The Witkosky family and many others.