POLSON - A substantial donation from the estate of the late Vera Jensen will help the Lower Flathead Valley Community Foundation achieve its mission of preserving the area's cultural, natural and human resources, spokesman Bill Edelman said Tuesday.

Edelman, a conservationist and community activist from Ronan and the foundation's secretary/treasurer, and Donald E. Olsson Jr., head cashier of Ronan State Bank and the foundation's president, announced the Jensen estate donation Tuesday.

Jensen was a well-known figure in the Flathead for more than 50 years. She owned and operated Pine Glen Resort on the lake's East Shore for many years and had other financial interests. She died four years ago.

The foundation was launched in January 1998 to bring tribal members and others living in the lower Flathead region together to work on community projects, Edelman said. The foundation will place a special emphasis on the needs of children, he said.

The amount of Thursday's donation was not disclosed, at the wishes of the estate administrator, but Edelman said it was considerable. It brings the foundation's permanent endowment fund to $1 million and adds $350,000 to its discretionary funds.

Funds in the permanent endowment are invested and the earnings used for projects and grants. The discretionary funds can be tapped directly for philanthropic projects.

The foundation's role is to be a seed-money provider, fund-raiser and coordinator for services provided by existing organizations. It does not plan to run programs except where a vacuum exists.

Recently, as part of its Children's Literacy Program, the foundation donated $12,500 to the Ronan City Library Building Program. It also authorized a "challenge" grant that will match contributions from others up to another $12,500.

Other grants have been made to the Polson and Ronan libraries to support their summer reading programs. Many other programs are in the planning stages, and Edelman said the foundation expects to have a much greater impact in the region by next summer.

Edelman said the foundation's administrative costs are paid out of a special fund, so every dollar contributed goes to the purposes designated by the donor. Donations are tax deductible. And through recent state legislative action, up to 50 cents of every dollar contributed to the permanent endowment may receive a state tax credit, up to a maximum tax credit of $10,000, he said.

Edelman also said the foundation is currently constructing a directory of charitable and nonprofit organizations and programs in the lower Flathead. Any organization wishing to be included in the directory, or on the foundation's list of groups interested in requesting grants, should contact him at 676-2141, or e-mail whe@ronan.net.

Wednesday - 6/30/99

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