Donation will help preserve park forever

Tens of thousands of readers must have perused The Vindicator’s Nov. 23 front-page story detailing the importance of endowments that help fund noteworthy Mill Creek MetroParks icons, assisting in their upkeep and even their existence.

“Icons abound while driving through Mill Creek MetroParks,” read the lead of the story, written by Vindicator reporter Ashley Fox. It went on to outline some recognizable examples: the lily pond, the covered bridge at Lanterman’s Mill and the silver suspension bridge, also known as the Cinderella Bridge.

To help give more than 15 so-called icons around the park official names, Chris Litton, development director, had helped organize an endowment program.

“Endowments can take in any dollar amount,” Litton said in the story. “That dollar amount stays whole in perpetuity.”

Large-dollar gifts, such as $250,000 and above, even can bring naming opportunities.

These dollars go into a general endowment fund, which would finish capital improvements at Ford Nature Center, Litton said in the story.

The article probably was interesting and informative for many readers who saw it. But apparently it resonated with one area resident a bit more than it did with many others.

Explaining the idea originated from The Vindicator story, a Mahoning Valley resident last week wrote a check for $750,000. The funds will go into a general endowment fund and help finish capital improvements at Ford Nature Center, first gifted to the park in 1968 and opened as headquarters for nature education in 1974. The gift is unrestricted, so it can be used for any purpose.

A portion of the funding will help complete the financing for the Ford Nature Center Redevelopment Project, a revitalization project with a price tag of some $3.5 million. The rest will be disbursed where necessary, such as being set aside in the endowment fund, which will help maintain and preserve areas throughout the park.

“The gift does allow us to complete the Ford Nature project,” Litton said, noting now the project will be financially sound one year ahead of schedule.

Endowments, Litton explained, are growing in popularity because the money stays whole and will always be there to take care of the park.

Indeed we salute any donor who gives from the heart because he / she understands the value of preserving the park and its beauty in perpetuity. This particular donation is especially noteworthy, however. That’s because the donor didn’t do it for recognition or for posterity.

We know this because the donor has been adamant about remaining anonymous.

That tells us the donor did it because he or she believes maintaining Mill Creek Park and the Ford Nature Center is the right thing to do.

For that, we salute the anonymous donor. While his or her name shall remain a secret, the good deed must not. Rather, it should be celebrated and enjoyed by countless park and nature center visitors for many, many years to come.

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