BARTLESVILLE, Okla. -- The Bartlesville Community Foundation unexpectedly received the largest gift in its history when a donation of $2 million came in recently.
Executive Director Shawn Crawford said monetary gifts come in as surprises from time and time, but never one this large.
"It's really the gift that you dream about," Crawford said. "Sometimes we're like I wish someone would and just leave us and say they were leaving us $2 million. Then lo and behold, you get that phone call. It's an amazing thing."
Upon her death in 2013, longtime Bartian Ruth C. Smith set up a trust and left $2 million from her estate to the foundation. Her accountant, Tom Barclay, said Smith and her husband wanted to help their beloved city long after they were gone.
"They just loved the community of Bartlesville and wanted to leave a legacy for the community," Barclay said.
The foundation is creating a fund in hers and her husband's name. They plan to invest the money and then use the profits in several different ways. Crawford said the proceeds will help the foundation's operations as well as give plenty of grants to local nonprofits and charities.
"We're a very unique community, a very close community," Jean Jensen said. "There are many nonprofits here, and we've been supported by our community many, many times."
Jensen and her friend Clair Bartley set up a nonprofit called Paths to Independence, which now includes an accredited school for children with autism. Past grants awarded by the foundation helped them buy tablets for their students as well as other things.
"They bought us several adaptive bikes that the kids ride for exercise," Bartley said.
With 42 students now enrolled in their program, the women hope to apply for another grant in the future to get a bigger space.
"That's our big push is to try to get enough space to keep growing," Bartley said.
With a gift this big, the Bartlesville Community Foundation expects to fund many projects and keep giving back for years to come.
"Hopefully (the fund) will be here as long as Bartlesville's here," Crawford said.