Longtime Donor Leaves Nonprofit $28 Million

6:52 PM, Feb 7, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- From it's inception in 1882, to improve the life of the community's poor, to it's hand in crafting social security and starting the first day care program for parents during World War Two, Family Matters of Greater Washington has met the social challenges of our time.

It survived the Great Depression. But, current CEO Tonya Jackson Smallwood wondered if a new economic shakedown would put the services that improve the human condition, on life support.

"It's incredibly difficult.  We've even scaled back programs and considered the possibility of eliminating programs," she says.

In recent weeks, the nonprofit learned about a gift that will help them meet those challenges. 

Longtime donor and arts patron Richard A. Herman died at that the age of 100.  But not before taking a step to secure the future of generations. 

Smallwood says, "We are the recipient of a $28 million grant."

Herman's big gift was the crescendo to years built with small donations, that could double over time.

"He's been giving to our organization since 1967.  In fact, he started giving $25 a year, and gave continuously, consistently over 45 years," the CEO says.

But even his family is surprised.  They say Herman didn't seem to focus on people in need. 

When employees at Family Matters learned of his generosity at a town hall meeting, they all cheered on the news.

It means Family Matters of Greater Washington can continue to provide it's broad services.

Brittany Carethers counts herself as a success story thanks to the Camp Moss Hollow program.

"Most of the skills that I learned in camp, I would have never learned in a classroom, ever," Carethers says.

Dwight Bridgeforth sees both sides of the Family Matters spectrum, too.  He's being served by the group's senior shelter and volunteers there.

He says, "Family Matters has become like an oasis for me.  It's a place where I can go with people that have the same struggles."

CEO Smallwood says Herman's donation is proof of the big hearts in the Washington region.  Richard Herman's last offering to Family Matters brings new meaning to transformative giving.

"That's a gift, we believe, will keep on living, keep on giving.  It really doesn't get any better than that," she says. 

Richard Herman never married or had his own family, and inherited most of his wealth from his father. 

Family Matters of Greater Washington plans to establish the Richard A. Herman charitable trust that will generate income from year-to-year, help them enhance all of their programs, and harness the healing power of the arts.

They believe that is one of the best ways to preserve his legacy.

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