Alice Yoakum Interview
This is tape 167A. Today’s date is Feb. 27, 2018. This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing Mrs. Alice Yoakum who is going to talk about her family background and the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. But first we’ll start with the genealogical information.
JM:What is your name?
AY:My full name is Alice Elizabeth Packard Blum Yoakum.
JM:What is your birthdate?
AY:Brooklyn, New York
JM:Your parents’ names?
AY:Ethel Mildred Halsey and Robert Edward Blum
JM:Do you have siblings?
AY:I had one sibling John Robert Halsey Blum.
JM:What was your grandfather’s name?
JM:The one who started the Brookline Museum.
AY:His name was Edward Charles Blum.
JM:He also had something to do with the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.
AY:That was all one organization: the Institute of Arts and Sciences.
JM:It was you father who started the Berkshire Taconic Community foundation.
JM:When did he start it?
AY:I think it was 1987.
JM:Why was it started?
AY:“He wanted to stimulate support for local charities, encourage cooperation among nonprofits, and help start-ups.” (a quote from Portraits of Generosity 2017 Alice Yoakum ED.)
JM:Who were some of the other people who were involved early on?2.
AY:It was Carl Stoeker, Fred Kent, Bill Olsen, and Don T. Warner (See tape #44 A-D Donald Warner) and Doris Pomeroy Walker.
JM:Who was the President or CEO at the time?
AY:The first person who held that title was Bill Olsen who had left the position as Headmaster at Hotchkiss.
JM:Do you know who the President is now?
JM:if I understand it correctly the BTCF is made up of different funds?
AY:Early on it started out under the aegis of the New York Community Trust. Now there are a number of different funds and a number of managers because the assets are in the millions of dollars. I am on the board of the Foundation for Community Health which is something formed from the funds of the Sharon Hospital when it went for profit. That is now managed by the BTCF.
JM:From interviews that I have done, the BTCF has helped the SOAR program,(See File #35, cycle 2, Amy Rasner Clulow) the Housatonic Youth Bureau ( See file # 15, cycle3, Linda Sloane)and the Jane Lloyd Fund. (See file #3, cycle3, Tanya Tedder)
AY:Yes, there are donor fund set up which the BTCF manages; the donor appoints a representative who will recommend the distribution of the donor funds.
JM:How is the BTCF funded, by investments, letter of appeal, or endowment?
AY:It is funded by contributions and in some cases different small trusts have been taken over by the BTCF for efficiency of administration. People who want to leave money for posterity can set up a fund or they can contribute to a fund or set up an endowment. It is easier to re-arrange that than to set something up that is set in cement. A lot of different organizations have set up funds with BTCF. BLEC was started by Don Warner and he hired Bill Morrill to prevent damming up the Riga Lake and putting up a power station. The list of local organizations we help is quite long including Family Services, the library, Women’s Support Services, the Visiting Nurses, the school get something and Berkshire Litchfield Environmental Council (BLEC).
JM:If somebody came to you and said “I need money for something”, how do they get that money? What is the process?
AY:Call the foundation and ask,” How do I apply? The person to talk to is Mary O’Dea. I think you have to fill out an application and then a committee decides if you get the funds or not. Technically it is the Board of Directors, I think. Probably the committee reports to the Board of Directors. They have to
be sure the organization is a legitimate nonprofit. It can include government as the town of Salisbury gives money to the library.
JM:Are you still involved with the foundation?
AY:I am an alumna.
JM:Is there anything you would like to add to this interview before we close?
AY:It has served a purpose. It does make it easy to set up endowments. If you have an idea like SPARC (Sickness Prevention Achieved through Regional Cooperation) BTCF can help get it start4d. That is where the “Vote & Vac” came from. Don Warner said at one of the meetings that the way to get on the map in a community is to sponsor a new project.
JM:Thank you very much for your information.