Memorial fund was the right solution at the right time

Doug Stewart remembers feeling overwhelmed by all the things that needed to be done shortly after his wife, Denise, passed away on Sept. 9, 2016 following her courageous, four-year battle against cancer.

So, it was “a hugely helpful thing … a godsend,” he says, when family friends Karla Bratrud and Ranee Jacobus suggested that he could take one task off his plate – figuring out what to do with memorial donations – by starting a memorial fund at the Eden Prairie Community Foundation.

Directing those donations to the newly created Denise Stewart Memorial Fund meant that the Foundation, and not Doug, would gather and deposit the checks and later – when Doug and his six kids could catch their breaths – provide some advice and help getting those memorial donations to worthy causes.

Denise was active in Eden Prairie, especially in the schools, and so more than $11,500 was contributed to her memorial fund. Doug and the kids, six months later, identified four organizations that were meaningful to Denise and overall the fund issued seven grants ranging in size from $500 to $3,000.

The recipients included sports and arts groups that hold activities the Stewart children had participated in, during their 17 years in EP, and Denise’s bible-study group. Also, the Star Legacy Foundation that supports parents of stillborn children – the Stewarts’ first child was stillborn – and the Angel Foundation, which provides support to adults with cancer and their families.

“I got really nice, heartfelt thank-you notes” from the recipients, says Doug, and a conversation with the executive director of the Star Legacy Foundation – also located in Eden Prairie – led to Doug becoming a volunteer in support of other people going through a stillbirth.

The Eden Prairie Community Foundation walked Doug through the simple process of starting a memorial fund, and quickly enough that friends and family could learn about the fund within a few days. People could make online donations to the fund, and Doug had the assurance that the Foundation – which is audited annually – would take care of the fund. The Foundation charges a small fee to fund holders, about 1 percent of the money donated, in order to cover administrative costs.

“It was the exact right thing at the right time,” Doug – pictured above with a family photo on his phone – now says about the Foundation fund. “During a really difficult time for us, it was a huge blessing, because it completely took care of that issue for us.”

(Memorial funds, as well as funds for philanthropic individuals and organizations that need a fiscal sponsor, are among the Foundation’s specialties. If you are interested in starting a fund, or simply want more information, contact Executive Director Mark Weber at 952-949-8499 or [email protected])

Mark Weber About the Author Mark Weber has been the executive director of the Eden Prairie Community Foundation since October 2013. In this role, he enjoys meeting with Eden Prairie residents, and being an active member of the community. If you’d like to connect with Mark, call him at (952) 949-8499 or email him. You can also read Mark’s full biography.

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