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20-year foundation of giving

Pugliese Charitable Foundation grant awards total $8 million to local projects

MAKING A DIFFERENCE — Pugliese Charitable Foundation trustees, top photo, from left, Thomas T. Timmons, William W. McElwain and H. Lee Kinney look over a map that indicates the eligibility area where foundation monies can be awarded. In its 20-year history, the foundation has awarded about 632 grants totaling $8 million to benefit communities, schools and nonprofits in a quirky eligibility area as a prospective grantee must be within a 30-mile radius of the corner of Fourth and Market streets in downtown Steubenville, which is where Unibank was and is home now to Huntington. The eligibility radius extends as far north as East Liverpool, east to Robinson Township and south to St. Clairsville. Come Jan. 1, the foundation will begin to accept applications for the new year through March 31. Written requests for an application can be mailed to the foundation at P.O. Box 2620, Wintersville, OH 43953-2620. -- Janice Kiaski

WINTERSVILLE — Imagine three people being able to sit down each year and consider the worthy financial needs presented by schools, communities and nonprofits.

Then imagine having the means to make many of those hoped-for diverse projects become goals achieved or needs met.

That’s the giving-sense scenario that H. Lee Kinney, William W. McElwain and Thomas T. Timmons find themselves in each year in their capacity as trustees of what officially is the Charles M. and Thelma M. Pugliese Charitable Foundation but more commonly referred to as the Pugliese Charitable Foundation.

Launched in 1999, the foundation has a two-decade achievement to its credit, having awarded about 632 grants totaling $8 million. The grants have been as high as more than $1 million given to Steubenville City Schools to help bring to fruition the building of Pugliese West Elementary School in the city’s West End in recent years to far smaller ones, such as $500 scholarships.

“We started with $12 million dollars, we still have $12 million, and we’ve given away $8 million,” Kinney said, describing that track record as credibility and substantiation should people want to gift money to the foundation. It would be accepted as a tax-deductible gift, and such a desire could be part of a will, for instance.

“We’ve been knocking this around at our last couple of meetings, and we’re going to have a video made, because there’s no reason people who have money and maybe don’t have family or children and they’re wondering what they could do with their money, they could leave it to the Pugliese Foundation, and we have a good record,” Kinney said.

That’s a New Year’s goal.

“That’s one thing we’re going to do in the spring, a 2020 goal to let the public know that they could leave their legacy to the Pugliese Foundation, and it will go perpetually to nonprofit organizations within a 30-mile radius of Fourth and Market streets in downtown Steubenville — that’s the only place we can give money but that reaches up to East Liverpool, Robinson Township, Carrollton, and St. Clairsville,” Kinney said.

“There’s some thinking that has to go into this if somebody gives us some money,” McElwain said. “We can be the only ones that make the decision as to where it goes. They can’t leave strings on it.”

“I don’t think the general public knows that they could just leave their money to the Pugliese Foundation, and it would go on and be distributed like we’ve done,” Kinney emphasized.

Despite having been in place 20 years, the foundation might still be an unknown to many who have little if any working knowledge about the local couple whose legacy is the foundation.

Kinney and McElwain are charter trustees of the foundation that originally included the late Douglas Naylor. After his death, Timmons was appointed by the two.

The Puglieses primarily operated hotels, including in Steubenville, Wheeling, Warren and Portsmouth. Pugliese had a strong work ethic, loved to make money and amassed a fortune, according to Kinney, who connected with the businessman as he and McElwain and Robert Hargrave as counsel sought investors in 1985 to launch a new bank in Steubenville — Unibank.

One of 12 children raised during the Depression by a mother he greatly admired, Pugliese turned up as one of the major investors and served on the Unibank board for the life of the bank. By his 80s, Pugliese had long been a widower with no children — Thelma having died in 1972.

A contemplation of his mortality apparently was the backdrop against which the foundation was established with Pugliese naming Kinney, McElwain and Naylor as trustees. It is a self-perpetuating, autocratic board.

Pugliese funded the foundation in 1999 and died during the early 2000s.

“We accept applications any time really, but we tell people that we need them by the first of the year — Jan. 1 — and our cut-off date is always March 31 of every year, and then we start investigating the requests from there and make our grants after that,” Kinney explained.

“We visit some of them — the requests — some that we’re interested in, but we don’t know anything about,” Kinney said. “We often make a site visit. We did three of those this year, and it let them give us a better feel for whether we want to do it or not. Some of the people we know and in the schools we’ve done so much for the schools. The most recent one was putting in those 500 new seats at Buckeye North Elementary School in Brilliant, and we paid for the painting of their auditorium.”

In the education realm, the foundation has made grant awards to Franciscan University of Steubenville, Eastern Gateway Community College, Bethany College, West Liberty University and Wheeling Jesuit.

Other school help cited has included this year, for example, providing a $50,000 grant to help construct a new concession stand and restroom facility near the new track at Edison High School. There’s also been school assistance for Harrison Central and Carrollton.

“We gave a $230,000 grant to Steubenville High School to get its STEM program started,” Kinney said of the award several years ago for the school’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education wing.

The name Pugliese has become a name not so uncommonly heard.

“Well, it’s been 20 years,” said McElwain, who cited his joy in being a part of the foundation is seeing the good that it does.

“I think that 600 and some organizations have benefited from Mr. Pugliese’s generosity going back for 20 years. It’s nice to say that you helped,” McElwain said.

The foundation generally doles out as much as $500,000 to $600,000 a year.

“We have guidelines we send out every year,” Kinney explained. “The last three years $50,000 is our max we give to one person.”

McElwain said the foundation, which is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt entity, is required by IRS regulation to award 5 percent of its assets annually.

Each year, it entertains applications from charitable organizations with a current 501(c)3 designation and from schools and communities, the latter two of which “are tax exempt by the nature of their existence.”

The applications and grant guidelines may be requested in writing from the Pugliese Charitable Foundation at P.O. Box 2620, Wintersville, OH 43953-2620.

For those who leave a message on the foundation answering machine after calling (740) 264-5429, they are asked to speak slowly and clearly.

Each calendar year, applications are received the first quarter of a year through March 31 for action thereafter. An application must be postmarked by midnight March 31 for consideration.

The application is not difficult but does require some basic information and an explanation of the project proposed to be funded.

The foundation doesn’t consider awards for operational expenses, favoring instead brick-and-mortar undertakings. It also generally doesn’t give to the same thing multiple years, and each year a maximum award is set.

A quirk in the eligibility consideration department is that a prospective grantee must be within a 30-mile radius of the corner of Fourth and Market streets in downtown Steubenville, which is where Unibank was and is home now to Huntington.

“We can only give to charitable organizations within 30 miles of the bank at the corner of Fourth and Market, of course, because Charlie was on the board at the bank. He loved the bank. He had activities within that (area) he wanted to be inclusive so he just picked the mileage,” Kinney had explained in a past interview.

The 30-mile radius extends as far north as East Liverpool, east to Robinson Township and south to St. Clairsville.

After the March 31 deadline from year to year comes the review process, with as many as 50 applications received, according to Timmons.

Time to play Santa Claus.

“We meet after that and review the applications and decide what we’re going to do,” Timmons said.

“We start our process of elimination,” Kinney added. “If we like the idea and don’t know the people, we go visit them,” he said.

“I just think it’s great that we’re able to help different organizations throughout our radius and to see some of the things we’ve been able to do,” Timmons said of the satisfaction of being a trustee for the foundation.

“I think the education help is one thing that I particularly like,” Kinney said. “We have 11 high schools we give two $1,000 scholarships to every year, so there’s $22,000 right off the top to the same schools. They know they are going to get it every year, and that helps the kids. We have put a lot of money into education,” Kinney said.

“We have been able to help United Ways, food pantries, it’s just amazing what we can do,” added Timmons.

“One year, we had a little extra money we weren’t counting on,” Kinney said of some surprise awards made to 11 food pantries in the area.

“We gave them quite a chunk,” Kinney said.

“And that’s a great feeling,” chimed in Timmons.

“We don’t have anybody we tell we’re going to do every year, but when we have extra money, we’ve always given it to these food pantries or United Ways,” Kinney said, adding, “You’d be surprised how many United Ways there are in a 30-mile radius.”

“The Salvation Army — they love the fact that pretty often we’ve been able to do something for them, especially at their turkey time and Christmas,” Kinney continued.

“We just gave $50,000 to the Urban Mission — a great help as they closed on their transaction, and they now own that plaza,” Kinney said, referring to the Seventh Street Plaza in downtown Steubenville. “The Urban Mission has a good track record. They do a lot of good and give a lot of food and clothes away,” Kinney said.

A look at some of the grants greater than $10,000 awarded through 2017 include the following:

– Dyslexic Learning Center at the Masonic Temple, $22,500.

– American Legion Post 33 Teramana Ballfield, $60,000.

– American Red Cross, $32,750.

– Bergholz Volunteer Fire and Medical Equipment, $95,000.

– Bethany College, $50,000.

– Scholarships for students with financial need at the following area high schools, including Brooke, Buckeye, Catholic Central, Edison, Indian Creek, Jefferson County Joint Vocational School, Weirton Madonna, Oak Glen, Steubenville; Toronto and Weirton, $331,000.

– Burgettstown Senior Center, $75,000.

– Capital improvements at area public and private kindergarten through 12 school districts, $2,001,772.

– Franciscan University of Steubenville, $548,000.

– West Liberty University, $49,950.

– Eastern Gateway Community College, $549,500.

– Twelve area food pantries, $114,000.

– Cities of Steubenville and Toronto, $133,500.

– East Springfield Community Center, $33,851.

– East Springfield Fire Department, $25,000

– Friendship Park, $50,000.

– Hill n’ Dale Fire Department, $60,000.

– Hounds’ Haven, $45,500.

– Jefferson County Agricultural Society, $84,808.

– Fourth Street Health Center, $10,000.

– Jefferson County Historical Society, $32,980.

– Kiwanis Youth Soccer Club, $70,000.

– Martha Manor Home for the Aged, $40,000.

– Boy Scouts of America (Ohio Valley), $35,000.

– Old Fort Steuben, $25,000.

– Richmond Fire Department, $125,000.

– Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, $10,000.

– Grand Theater Restoration Project, $35,000.

– Toronto Ambulance District, $20,000.

– Steubenville Prime Time Senior Center, $90,056.

– Unionport Fire and Rescue, $118,766.

– United Ways of Brooke County, Jefferson County, Southern Columbiana County, Upper Ohio Valley, Washington County and Weirton, $82,250.

– Valley Hospice, $20,000.

– Weirton Museum and Cultural Center, $30,905.

– Wellsville Historical Society, $23,400.

– YWCA of Steubenville, $56,800.

– Hearing and Speech Center, $10,000.

– Steubenville Parks (Belleview Pool), $10,000.

– Eastern Ohio Correction Center for Men, $18,500.

– Elkhorn Christian Camp, $18,000.

– Weirton Senior Center, $31,285.

– Four Seasons Ministries, $25,000.

– Brooke Hills Park, $55,000.

– Weirton Christian Center, $33,049.

– Villages and townships of Mingo Junction, Richmond, Yorkville, Smithfield, Adena, Rayland, Warren, Cross Creek, Ross and Wayne, $387,911.

– Questers Inc., $33,500.

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