The Community Foundation Board of Directors will be meeting on March 18th to consider this year’s biannual distribution of the Common Good Fund’s earnings. This year the Board has over $100,000 in grant requests for funding aimed at projects and charities working to address a wide range of issues affecting Dunn County. The Board has the challenging task of choosing which will receive funding this grant cycle. They current have finances for about half of the projects. Without Clarence Heckle they would have far less.

Clarence Heckel was a Boyceville farmer who became one of Dunn County’s more prolific philanthropists.

Clarence Heckel was a wonderful community member, neighbor and friend to the Boyceville Community and beyond. He married his wife Hazel Kegan on Feb. 9, 1935, at St. John’s Catholic Church in Glenwood City. In 1942 they were able to purchase their own farm, two miles west of Boyceville. They milked cows, raised honey bees, and grew strawberries. They were the first in the area to allow people to come in and “pick and pay.” People traveled from as far away as the Twin Cities and Eau Claire. Clarence and Hazel also managed and operated the Gedney Pickle Factory in Boyceville for 14 years.

It is not clear that Clarence set out to become a philanthropist, but after his death in March 2005 he left his estate to the Common Good Fund, an unrestricted fund held at the Community Foundation. Clarence left his estate to the people of Dunn County; he chose to entrust it to the community foundation because he believed in their core mission – to increase the quality of life for all the residents of Dunn County, promote philanthropy in all forms, and work to strengthen and sustain our nonprofit sector.

Over time, more than fifty other people would contribute to the Common Good Funds with cash, stock gifts, or through their estate plans. Their money has been invested together in a pooled fund and each year its earnings are spent on projects in Dunn County.

Clarence’s gift utilized two of the Community Foundation’s resources: the ability to care for charitable funds in perpetuity and the expertise of the Foundation’s Board and staff and its competitive grant making process. These strengths ensure that the funds will be used as effectively as possible for as long as possible.
Today the Fund is worth over half a million dollars, and over the past 10 years, Clarence Heckle has helped give away almost $450,000 to our community, helping over 200 projects or charities in need.

In the past the Common Good Fund has helped many different causes in the community:

• Build ten new playgrounds.
• A warning shelter was built. A place where people can stop no questions asked and receive a hot meal, a hot shower, and a warm bed.
• Two of our food pantries received freezers.
• Grants have been given out to help clean up our lake and preserve the natural environment.
• 500 citizens have benefits for our Literacy Volunteers.

None of these would have been possible without Clarence Heckle. As the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation weigh’s each grant application, his thoughtful and inspiring gift will be at the forefront of their minds.

The full press release was printed in the Tribune Press Reporter, Wednesday, March 11, 2015.

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