NEWELL - What does San Antonio, Texas, have to do with Newell? Not much, until the names Robert and Carolyn Beckmann Wells enter the picture.
Both places have benefited from the Wellses' philanthropy, most recently in the form of a $5 million gift to the San Antonio Area Foundation. Although she lived in the Newell area for 52 years, Carolyn Wells originally is from San Antonio.
"We believe she just wanted to give something to her hometown," said Joel Williams, spokesman for the San Antonio Area Foundation. "Their legacy is going to have a positive impact on a lot of people by making this donation."
The $5 million gift will help the foundation move to a new location at the old Pearl Brewery building in San Antonio later this summer. The 18,000-square-foot space will be called the Wells Center of the San Antonio Area Foundation and will allow the foundation to expand its outreach.
"Income from the Wells endowment is funding the nonprofit conference, meeting and training space at our new offices in the Pearl development," Williams said. "This new location will serve as a hub for social innovation and collaboration among funders, nonprofit organizations and community volunteers."
The two-story Wells Center will include meeting space for charitable organizations to use for their purposes and for collaboration, as well as for training programs coordinated by the foundation, Williams said. Since 1964, the San Antonio Area Foundation has distributed more than $200 million to San Antonio nonprofit organizations.
It was 10 years ago that the Wellses created a charitable remainder trust to benefit the East Liverpool-Fawcett Community Foundation. To that gift of $187,000 was added $200,000 from Robert Wells specifically for the benefit of his hometown of Newell.
Robert Wells died in 2007 and was preceded in death by his wife, Carolyn, in 2005.
"They said they wanted to set an example for other people in the area who were planning their estates to use our community foundation as a vehicle," said Marc Hoffrichter, foundation president.
The foundation currently has three large charitable remainder trusts that Hoffrichter believes were at least partially inspired by the Wellses' example.
Hoffrichter said the Wellses' gift has enabled the East Liverpool-Fawcett Foundation to contribute a substantial amount of money to worthy projects in Newell, including $50,000 for improvements to Laurel Hollow Park.
The foundation also has given $26,000 to the Newell Volunteer Fire Department for new equipment, $2,000 to a group doing genealogy research in Newell and $10,000 to Team Mojo Foundation, a two-year-old nonprofit organization based in East Liverpool.
The latter is going to use its grant to pay for improvements to Clarke Field playground in Newell, said Bill Crawford, Team Mojo Foundation founder and executive director. The improvements will include a resurfaced basketball court, upgraded basketball rims and backboards, a new concrete pad for the park's pavilion and closed-circuit TV for added security.
"The money has to be used to benefit the kids of Newell. I think we're doing the right thing," Crawford said.
Construction on the new basketball court is scheduled to begin soon.
To contact the East Liverpool-Fawcett Community Foundation, call (330) 385-3400 or write to: P.O. Box 458, East Liverpool, OH 43920.