Edis Anderson is more than just talk when she speaks of maintaining the beauty of BluffView Cemetery in Vermillion.
She and her family are backing up that sentiment with dollars – and the chance for others in the community to show their commitment, too – to make sure that her dream of the cemetery living on for future generations will come true.
The South Dakota Community Foundation has announced the establishment of a permanently endowed fund to support BluffView Cemetery and the University of South Dakota. BluffView Cemetery is the primary beneficiary of this fund, but specific guidelines must be met.
In the event that certain goals are not achieved by a local entity, the University of South Dakota Foundation will receive the distributable earnings from the fund to be used for scholarships.
"This is an opportunity that presents itself to the community of Vermillion and to BluffView Cemetery," Bob Sutton, president of the South Dakota Community Foundation, recently told the Vermillion City Council. "At the South Dakota Community Foundation, we manage permanent endowment funds totaling over $115 million for organizations, communities, and families all across South Dakota."
Sutton said the organization was contacted by Anderson a few years ago about starting a Perpetuity of Beauty Fund, or permanent endowment fund for the benefit of BluffView Cemetery.
"That fund, started with a $100,000 deposit , was established at the urging of the family to do something to make BluffView Cemetery sustainable and beautiful for perpetuity and into the future, and also to encourage local involvement from either an organization, the community as a whole, or a group that can embrace this project and say, 'we'd like to see BluffView Cemetery sustained for perpetuity as a place of beauty and a place of rest for literally thousands of former Vermillion residents, and what will be hundreds if not thousands more in the future."
The Sidney E. and Edis J. Anderson Perpetuity of Beauty Fund was started with a $100,000 contribution for the purpose of generating additional contributions to support BluffView Cemetery. If any local organization would raise $800,000, an additional $100,000 would be added to the Perpetuity of Beauty Fund. The earnings from this $1 million would be available to the BluffView Cemetery Board annually.
"This fund has been established with some guidelines and an opportunity for those funds plus an additional $100,000 to be made available for the ongoing needs to improve BluffView Cemetery into the future," Sutton said, "and I think it's important, when we talk about that, to let you know that we've visited with the BluffView Cemetery Board, and they have listened and talked with us.
"They have said there are things in the guidelines that just don't work, but what we're encouraging and looking for is an opportunity to share with all of you as the governing board of the city," he told the aldermen, "that there might be a chance for other groups to come together. It may not be just the BluffView Cemetery Association that may be able to solve this. There may be partnerships created. The cemetery and the community could ultimately be a beneficiary."
In support of Edis' initial bequest of $100,000, the Anderson family has offered an additional $100,000 "Matching Funds" challenge. This incentive is meant to serve as an incentive for the Vermillion community to accept responsibility for preserving its heritage.
Any individual, company, organization, or governmental body which budgets the funds to maintain BluffView Cemetery, and intends to function democratically in management of the guidelines of the agreement, can be considered. To qualify for the matching funds, an entity must contribute an amount of $800,000 to the South Dakota Community Foundation by July 15, 2012. Edis' initial gift of $100,000 and the $100,000 matching funds incentive, along with the qualifying entity's $800,000 will combine to become a total of $1 million.
"Edis Anderson and her family made a significant financial decision when they started the Sidney E. and Edis J. Anderson Perpetuity of Beauty Fund within the Foundation," Sutton said. "They spent a great deal of time contemplating how their philanthropic dollars can make a substantive difference for BluffView Cemetery and USD. Edis has a particular affinity for the beauty and grandeur of BluffView Cemetery, and would like these funds to be utilized by the cemetery board to perpetually maintain the cemetery grounds.
"In the event that a local group does not step forward, another strong institution, the University of South Dakota, will benefit from the Anderson's generosity," he said.
Sutton said he brought this to the attention of the city council so that the local public could be informed of this unique opportunity.
"It's a way to say 'Is there anyone else out there who is willing to step up and take a look at these guidelines or meet as a representative of a foundation?' The assets have already been given; they've been donated by the Anderson family, and if anyone out there … says we can put together some partnerships and really create an opportunity for $200,000 to be put to good use in BluffView Cemetery in Vermillion, I would certainly encourage that.
"I hope that I'm able to come back to Vermillion a couple of times in the next year to formalize things and work forward," he said.