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3 Families, 3 Passions, 1 Goal

3 Families, 3 Passions, 1 Goal


The Tenhouse family has actively participated in 4-H club programs for three generations. The Spears have faithfully attended Luther Memorial Church for 28 years. BeeJay Adams loved theater and devoted much of her life to it.


Three separate families with three different passions have the same goal: to provide funding for the organizations and activities that mean the most to them. Each family achieved its goal by setting up endowment funds with the Community Foundation of the Quincy Area.


Andrew Tenhouse joined 4-H when he was just 8 years old. For Andy, the club was a great way to help the community and spend time outside.


“He was a real outdoors kid,” said his mother Sharon. “Andy loved to show younger kids how to fish. He had an old beat up Chevy truck, ‘Old Blue,’ and when the little guy next door would hear the truck coming, he’d run to the side of the road, wait for Andy to go by and ask, ‘Are you going fishing Andy? Can I go too?’”


As part of a 4-H natural resource project, Andy helped develop a prairie wildflower patch and worked on trails at the Spring Valley Arboretum on Quincy’s John Wood Community College campus. He enjoyed that two-year project, Sharon recalls.



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Andy achieved many awards in 4-H during his 10-year membership, but his accomplishments in the natural resources area earned him the highest award: the chance to participate in the National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, Ga.


Following his death on September 22, 2006, Andy’s parents decided to honor him with a fund at the Community Foundation. Grants from the Andrew Tenhouse Memorial Fund will give support for Adams County 4-H clubs to provide leadership opportunities for 4-H members, for community service programs and projects, and to assist youth wanting to attend 4-H camp.


“Youth building is really important,” said Sharon, a 4-H leader for 34 years. “I have seen kids develop life skills and achieve many things through community service projects. We want this fund to help with this type of thing—to help kids do good work. Andy and our 4-H club members have benefited from these types of grants from others in the past.”


Art and Sharon Tenhouse say they like the idea of establishing a fund with the Community Foundation because it gives local people the ability to decide where and how the grants will be issued. Andy’s parents appreciate the flexibility allowed as different community needs arise.


The other two families have also set up support for their passions by establishing funds with the Community Foundation.


Jeff and Theresa Spear, long-time members of Luther Memorial Church, have given the children’s sermon at both Sunday services for 20 years. “The kids keep us on our toes,” Theresa said. “Giving the sermon each week made us grow in a way we would not have expected.”


The Spears wanted to do more for their local church, so they set in place a fund with the Community Foundation so their money could be put to use immediately and continue to provide a source of support for the church for generations to come.


 “We didn’t want to wait until we died to leave money for our church,” said Jeff. “We thought, ‘Why not start doing something now?’”


The Spears are eager for their church to have a yearly, unrestricted income. Jeff said donating to specific programs limits the effectiveness of gifts. He and his wife want the church to use the grant each year for its biggest need. “Our church gives us what we need and we want to give back to the church community,” Theresa said.


Jeff said the mechanism employed by the Community Foundation provides security for the church. “By setting up this fund, we’re ensuring 100% of the money is used locally,” he said.



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For Meredith Elisabeth Jane “BeeJay” Adams, it was the theatre that made an impression on her life. Even at a young age, she was passionate about theatre.


BeeJay was co-founder of the Quincy Junior Theater and was named life president of the organization in 1959. According to her sons Kent and Mark, the theater always played an important role in BeeJay’s life. “All my childhood days, that’s what she did,” said Mark. “She did everything from making costumes and handling stage props to directing shows.”


Kent said his mother enjoyed attending theater productions even after she stopped acting. “She would travel to Chicago, St. Louis and New York to see shows,” he said.


Kent and Mark Adams set up a fund that honors their mother and supports the organization she loved. Grants from the BeeJay Adams Fund will be used by the Quincy Community Theatre to primarily, but not exclusively, support student theater.


 “Our mother was very supportive and active in helping young people express themselves through theater,” Kent said. “It gives them valuable experience beyond school that will benefit them the rest of their lives.”


By using the Community Foundation, the Adams brothers are establishing a gift that will continue to give. “Decades from now, young people in Quincy will be benefiting from that gift,” Kent says. “And that’s a wonderful thing.”


The Community Foundation of the Quincy Area is a nonprofit resource that connects people who care with causes that matter in the tri-states. It encompasses 13 area counties and works with donors to build charitable funds that support local causes. It is an endowment builder, a donor advisor, community connector and grant maker.


The Community Foundation serves as a savings account, building permanent funds to locally address significant needs and opportunities now and in the future. Between 1999 and September 14, 2007, the Community Foundation has awarded more than 490 grants totaling nearly $809,500. The money provides support for various programs and projects in the tri-states.


To make a gift to any of these three funds or for more information about the Community Foundation, call Executive Director Jill Arnold Blickhan at 217-222-1237, e-mail or go to