James D. Owen Jr. Youth Opportunity Fund established for DeWitt Referral Center

DeWitt philanthropist James Owen has established the James D. Owen Jr. Youth Opportunity Fund — DeWitt Referral Center through the LincolnWay Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. The new fund will pay out annually to allow the Referral Center to support youth participation in sports for generations to come. 

The DeWitt Referral Center meets the needs of people experiencing financial hardship in the Central DeWitt Community School District in Clinton County, Iowa. In partnership with churches and other community organizations, the nonprofit provides food, emergency assistance, referral services and crisis assistance, and also operates a thrift store and donation center that is open to the public.

Director Michelle Ehlinger expects more than 30 children from low-income families will benefit from the new fund’s first payout, which can be used to cover registration fees for participation in sports like soccer or baseball, as well as the cost of swimming lessons. “It’s so beneficial to kids to be in sports, and many wouldn’t be able to if it wasn’t for this endowment,” said Ehlinger. “The parents are so appreciative, and the kids are hopeful.”

Needs in the DeWitt area are great, and the Referral Center offers many types of assistance, such as medical, housing, utilities, clothing, food and transportation. In 2018, the Referral Center gave school supplies to 185 children, provided 9,295 cartons of milk at school, and provided 242 kids summer lunch boxes. During the 2018 holiday season, it provided 175 Thanksgiving dinners, 240 Christmas gifts for children and 175 Christmas food boxes. Last winter, families in need received 104 coats, 108 pairs of winter boots, 98 sets of hats and gloves and 35 pairs of snow pants from the center. 

“The Referral Center always needs help. What attracted me to supporting them with this endowment is that the money can be used for youth programs,” said Owen, who serves on the LincolnWay Community Foundation board and has lived in DeWitt since 1960. He also has set up funds to support youth in golf and education through the DeWitt Community School District, which both of his children attended. 

“I hope this fund will build awareness and encourage others to see the opportunity to give to the Referral Center,” said Owen. 

If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to the James D. Owen Jr. Youth Opportunity Fund — DeWitt Referral Center, you can do so online at dbqfoundation.org/lwcf or by mailing checks made out to James D. Owen Jr. Youth Opportunity Fund — DeWitt Referral Center to Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, 700 Locust Street, Suite 195, Dubuque, IA 52001. 

Gifts of $50 or more to endowed funds at the LincolnWay Community Foundation may qualify for the Endow Iowa tax credit. Various types of gift qualify for the tax credit, including charitable IRA rollovers, grain, stock and cash. 

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