celebrates 25th anniversary
cost of Catholic education
(August 2011) In 1986, the future of Madisons
Catholic schools looked dim.
The Marble Hill nuclear power plant project had closed two years prior,
costing the region thousands of jobs. School enrollment dipped sharply.
Each year it was questionable whether the doors at Pope John XXIII Elementary
School and Shawe Memorial High School would open for another term.
Into that climate was born a new organization, the Friends of Shawe
and Pope John Schools Inc. Twenty-five years later, the non-profit organization
is thriving and so are the schools it was formed to support.
by Laura Hodges
and past board members
of the Friends of Shawe and Pope
John Schools Inc. met recently to
celebrate the first 25 years of their
organization. Left to right: Phil Kahn,
president of Prince of Peace Schools;
Fred Koehler, past board member;
Bill Grote, founder and past board
member; Linda Wenning, administrative assistant; Tom Nichols,
The Rev. Chris Craig, pastor of Prince
of Peace Parish; Rob Barlow, founder
and board member; Julie Berry,
immediate past vice president; Rick
Grote, board president; Mary Kay
McCubbin, immediate past president;
Julia Barber, immediate past treasurer;
Mary Beth Boone, board member;
Wayne Deveary, past board member;
Amy Ball, schools commission immediate
past chair; and Robert Wise, treasurer.
Friends of Shawe and Pope John Schools will celebrate
its silver anniversary with a celebration from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday,
Sept. 24, at Riverboat Inn. Those wanting event details can call administrative
secretary Linda Wenning at (812) 273-4523.
The Friends organization was born at a meeting on July 1, 1986, on the
Hanover College campus. The four participants were attorney Rob Barlow,
industrialist Bill Grote, investment consultant Bobbe Suchocki and college
administrator Larry Truax. The four discussed the large shortfall the
schools expected for 1986-87 school year. They knew bake sales and benefit
dances would not fill the need. Talk turned to forming a foundation.
At the time there was no Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson
County, no Catholic Community Foundation of Indianapolis, indeed no
local precedent of any kind.
A week later, the four founders met again at Barlows office to
start the process of incorporation. Officers were named as Truax, president;
Grote, vice president; Suchocki, treasurer; and Barlow, secretary.
The next step was to gather together people for an effective board of
We needed some people who know people, who could help us raise
money. We decided early on that it would have one purpose: to raise
money for an endowment to help Shawe and Pope John, remembered
Truax. It called for raising some significant dollars.
Fred Koehler became a very early supporter and director. I guess
I had a reputation as not being afraid to ask for money, said
Another early director, Tom Nichols recalled a meeting of 25 or so people
downstairs at Madison Bank and Trust. There was talk every year
about closing the schools. We decided to put an end to the talk,
he said. Many of us are still on the board.
Larry and Bill were the real go-getters, recalled Wayne
Deveary, who became the organizations treasurer shortly after
incorporation. We always had 100 percent participation from the
board. That usually speaks volumes.
The core group reached out to others for support, and contributions
started coming in. Grote said, The message was the schools are
real, theyre great, and theyre not going away.
Truax remembers that they didnt raise a lot of money in the first
year. That was to change soon. The board took the big step of hiring
a development professional, Karin Krasavic-Lenz, in the spring of 1987.
With some trepidation, the board set a goal of raising $1 million. One-tenth
of the total had already been raised with a $100,000 gift from Marie
Lotz, just a few days before her death.
The board embarked on a campaign of personal visits to potential donors.
Krasavic-Lenz organized a phone-athon to reach the graduates of Shawe
Memorial High School, which had been founded in 1952.
The phone volunteers were very enthusiastic, but nervous about how people
would respond to their fund-raising request. They got resoundingly
warm receptions from everyone. They were struck by how many people had
warm memories of their time at Shawe, said Krasavic-Lenz, who
is now working in school development in Buffalo, N.Y.
The Friends of Shawe and Pope John fund-raising effort also included
small businesses and corporations in the Madison area. Krasavic-Lenz
said many were happy to give because they were pleased with the
quality of the graduate.
In the early days of Friends, the physical needs at Shawe and Pope John
Elementary were so dire that much of the contributed money went for
building projects. There was a new science lab for Shawe, a remodeled
library with lots of new books for Pope John, plus scholarships to enable
low-income youth to continue their Catholic education.
These days contributions to Friends go into the permanent endowment.
This money is invested so that income can support the schools in perpetuity.
The Friends finance committee, headed for many years by Dr. Ralph
Pratt, has assured a steady stream of money to support the schools.
In 1996, the endowment fund hit the $1 million mark. Most years the
investment income provides more than $100,000 to augment the schools
Madisons situation continues to be unique. Madisons two
Catholic schools comprise the only Catholic school system in the Archdiocese
of Indianapolis that is funded solely by one parish. The Friends organization
is the only privately managed endowment fund in the archdiocese.
Folks in Madison were ahead of their time. Lucky for Madison that
these people came together and did what they did, said Krasavic-Lenz.
Truax remained president of Friends for 10 years, until the time he
was named president for Prince of Peace Schools, the present name for
the two Catholic schools. Subsequent presidents have been Tom Nichols,
Mary Kay McCubbin and, recently installed, Rick Grote, a nephew of founder
Were very grateful for our founding fathers who got this
started 25 years ago, said McCubbin. I think its awesome
that our community can offer an alternative to the public schools. Our
city needs a choice for education.
She said Friends successfully completed a $2.5 million endowment-building
campaign, Friends for the Future, in 2006. Friends does not have an
aggressive fund-raising project going on currently, because the parish
itself is conducting a capital campaign for enlargement of the school
and a new hilltop church. Wed like to see our donors think
in terms of planned giving, said McCubbin.
Rick Grote recently picked up the reins of the 25-year-old Friends organization.
He knows he has a strong tradition to uphold. Its neat when
you see a group get together and have a goal and vision and theyre
doing it, he said. While weve been extremely successful,
costs keep going up. You cant rest on your laurels.
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