May is national Mental Health Month, so we’re sharing a few of our donor and grant stories related to improving mental health in the community.
Bob and Char Sigman gave their charitable fund a name – the Mental Health Fund – that also is their wish for the community.
It is a wish they tragically were not able to find for their daughter, Jodi. Suffering from bi-polar disorder, at age 21, she took her own life on Feb. 29, 1988.
The Sigmans turned to philanthropy to help fill the void. They used the several thousands of dollars in memorials for Jodi to create the Mental Health Fund within the Community Foundation, dedicated to education, care and other assistance related to mental health. They selected a more generic name in hopes the fund would become a way for others to donate in support of mental health, and they continue to work toward that. While the Sigmans established the fund, the money in it belongs to the Community Foundation, though it is specified for causes that advance mental health.
“We felt the Mental Health Fund would be a valuable thing for the community to further the cause of de-stigmatizing mental health issues,” Bob said.
Since 1988, grants made from the fund have exceeded $18,000 – most of it to NAMI Fox Valley (National Alliance on Mental Illness). The Sigmans’ fund is an endowment, its assets invested prudently to generate money for grantmaking perpetually.
“We have felt it was important to continue contributing to it on an annual basis,” Char said, as an ongoing memorial to Jodi. The Sigmans also have made provisions to leave money to the Community Foundation from their estate following their deaths, for their fund and for other causes. By virtue of those plans, they became members of our Himebaugh Legacy Circle.
“The most awesome thing is we’re talking perpetuity,” Bob said “These perpetual funds are going to help people in need long beyond what we can imagine.”
Had mourners given flowers instead of donations to the Mental Health Fund, they said, the comfort they provided would have faded many years ago. “The Mental Health Fund will never be gone, and that’s a very good feeling,” Bob said.