STEUBENVILLE - An interesting milestone comes during an interesting year in the life of the Charles M. and Thelma M. Pugliese Charitable Foundation.
It has reached and surpassed the $5 million mark in funding more than 250 charitable grants in a 30-mile radius since 1999 to help schools, communities and nonprofits.
And it's happening in the year when the late Charles M. Pugliese would have turned 100.
Overseeing the Charles M. and Thelma M. Pugliese Charitable Foundation that has funded more than $5 million in charitable grants since its inception are, from left, Robert C. Hargrave, legal counsel for the foundation, and trustees William W. McElwain, Thomas T. Timmons and H. Lee Kinney.
-- Janice R. Kiaski
Both realities are occasion for reflection by H. Lee Kinney, William W. McElwain and Thomas T. Timmons, all three foundation trustees, and Robert C. Hargrave, legal counsel to the foundation since its inception.
It's a time to review what's been done and the man whose money has made it possible.
"It's a big year for the foundation," agreed Kinney who is a charter trustee along with McElwain. So was Douglas Naylor, upon whose death Timmons was elected to fill the trustee vacancy.
The foundation's impact is hard not to notice with education lassoing the lion's share.
"We're probably happiest about the education grants that we've made," Kinney said.
That has included more than $1 million to Steubenville City Schools, most notably helping to make possible Pugliese West Elementary School in the city's West End and the Pugliese Media Center at Harding Stadium.
Grants of $500,000, meanwhile, have been made to the Franciscan University in Steubenville, making possible the original Pugliese Multi-Media Lecture Hall, and then an additional grant, this year of $49,000 to replace and update the multi-media equipment in it. Wheeling Jesuit University received $500,000 to partially fund the newest addition to the women's residence, and $500,000 to Eastern Gateway Community College in Steubenville transformed the former American Electric Power building on John Scott Highway into the Pugliese Training Center.
For the past nine years the foundation has granted four $500 scholarships to college-bound students at each of 11 area high schools - a tradition that now totals more than $200,000.
"We've pumped a lot of money into education," Kinney said.
But that's not all the foundation has done.
Grants of $100,000 or more have been made to:
The City of Steubenville,for the high-tech Communication and Command Center Conference Room in the new city building;
Indian Creek School District, for a new entrance and new windows at Wintersville Elementary and for computers for the Career Education Technology lab;
Richmond Volunteer Fire and Rescue to partially fund a new fire station; and
The Unionport Volunteer Fire and Rescue for a new ambulance.
Grants of more than $50,000 were awarded to:
Bergholz Volunteer Fire and Rescue for emergency equipment;
Bethany College for gymnasium renovations;
Burgettstown Area Senior Center to partially fund the new center;
Edison Local School District for new gymnasium seating at the high school and to partially fund new equipment for a computer lab at Irondale Elementary School;
Jefferson County Friendship Park, for camp sites with electricity and septic tank hook-ups;
Harrison Hills School District (Cadiz High School) for new auditorium seating;
Hillndale Volunteer Fire Department to partially fund a new fire truck;
Jefferson County Kiwanis Youth Soccer Club to help fund a new soccer field;
Toronto City Schools for a new computer lab;
Jefferson County Christian School to partially fund its new computer lab;
The Village of Adena for new windows and a heating system in its community center; and
The Wintersville Volunteer Fire Department to partially fund a new fire truck.
Grants of more than $20,000 have been made to:
The Valley of Steubenville 32nd Degree Masonic Learning Center for dyslexic children;
The American Red Cross Jefferson County Chapter to partially fund its new location in Wintersville;
The Bergholz Community Foundation for the benefit of the Bergholz EMS to partially fund the purchase of a new ambulance;
Catholic Central High School to partially fund the revitalization of the all-weather track and field event area;
The Jefferson County Community Foundation for the benefit of the East Springfield Community Center, to partially fund construction of its new building;
Jefferson County Agricultural Society (county fair) for several improvements to the fair grounds in Smithfield;
Jefferson County Historical Society for new windows in the museum;
Martha Manor for Aged Women and Men for two new handicapped restrooms;
Ohio River Valley Council, Boy Scouts of America, for improvements to the area Scout camp;
The Glenn Mills Senior Community Center in Richmond in Salem Township for two handicapped restrooms and an indoor mural;
TEMS Joint Ambulance District in Toronto to partially fund the purchase of an all-terrain command vehicle and emergency equipment;
Five area United Ways for general distribution to their member agencies;
Wayne Township Community Center in Unionport for the renovation of the center;
Jefferson County Joint Vocational School to partially fund the expansion of its journalism and multi-media program, and to partially fund its science lab; and
The YWCA to partially fund a new roof on its Steubenville building.
Beyond all that, there were nearly 200 other grants awarded representing less than $20,000 each, constituting additional needs meant thanks to the legacy of Pugliese and his wife.
"Charlie and Thelma were both really energetic people, working hard every day," Kinney said of the couple who primarily operated hotels, including in Steubenville, Wheeling, Warren and Portsmouth. Pugliese amassed a fortune over time, according to Kinney, who connected with Pugliese as he and McElwain and Hargrave as counsel sought investors in 1985 to start a new bank in Steubenville - Unibank.
"Charlie turned up as one of our major investors," Kinney said, noting Pugliese served on the Unibank board for the life of the bank. In his 80s, Pugliese had long been a widower with no children and apparently began contemplating his mortality. It would be the springboard for the foundation's formation with Pugliese naming Kinney, McElwain and Naylor as trustees.
"He funded the foundation in 1999 and died during the early 2000s," according to Kinney.
"Charlie was an unusual man in that he didn't have any family at all, close family," Kinney said. Pugliese was one of 12 children raised during the Depression by a mother he greatly admired, according to Kinney.
"He really had a strong work ethic, and he loved to make money," Kinney added.
"He did fund this foundation and this milestone we just realized that Charlie would be 100 this year, and we had hit this $5 million mark in his 100th year so we thought it was notable," Kinney said.
"It's a good feeling to be able to work with the foundation and that you're giving money to help charities and particularly the schools," McElwain said. "I am just grateful to the Pugliese family for providing the resources for being the benefactor to the community. When you think about over the last 13 years that we've given out a little over $5 million, that's certainly been a big help to a lot of organizations within our grant area, the 30-mile radius," McElwain added,
"We're just happy he was able to give the money to do all that," he added.
"I'm just proud and humbled to be asked to be a trustee. Of course I knew about the Pugliese foundation and all the good it has done prior to being asked to be a trustee. It's just great what we can do and being able to help the nonprofits with whatever they're involved in, not only the schools but whatever else we've done throughout the years," Timmons said.
In citing examples of projects undertaken thanks to foundation funds, Kinney called it a thrill to see such things come to fruition, including requests of a "bricks and mortar" nature.
"A lot of good has been done - a very charitable act on the part of Mr. and Mrs. Pugliese," Kinney said.
Hargrave cited the foundation's funding of many education-related projects but noted also that "a lot of smaller communities in the 30-mile radius have benefited from the Pugliese foundation."
Throughout the years, the trustees have reviewed hundreds of grant applications, approving and funding more than 250 grants.
"It's a tough job to sort through them all," Kinney said.
Each calendar year, applications are received the first quarter of a year through March 31 for action thereafter.
As many as 40 grant applications on average arrive for the trustees' consideration.
Per the Pugliese Foundation Trust Document, grant applications are eligible from any public charity, designated as a 501-C3 organization by the IRS. The public charity must be located within a 30-mile radius of the corner of Fourth and Market streets in downtown Steubenville.
Applications and current grant guidelines may be requested, in writing, from: The Pugliese Foundation, P.O. Box 2620, Wintersville, OH 43953-2620.
(Kiaski can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)