$2.5M gift for Wabash Center: ‘Just a huge part of our lives’
Family’s story drives legacy gift, largest of its kind for Wabash Center
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$2.5M GIFT FOR WABASH CENTER: ‘JUST A HUGE PART OF OUR LIVES’
Navigating the campus of Wabash Center one day last week, Erika Steuterman heard her daughter call out to her.
“Jessie!” Steuterman said, peeling back to give her daughter hug and quick peck. “What have you been doing today?”
Jessie said she’d been helping to plant tomatoes in the Wabash Center garden. The rest of the afternoon was still waiting. Steuterman told Jessie she’d see later, heading around another corner of the facility on Greenbush Street.
“We’re going back to see your Attic, right now,” Steuterman said.
Jessie’s Attic, a converted space at Wabash Center filled with couches, kitchen tables, dishware and home décor, is a new venture in development and expected to open later this year for the nonprofit organization, offering donated furniture and housewares to help people with disabilities or special needs set up their homes.
It’s one of three programs targeted by a $2.5 million legacy gift, the largest of its kind in Wabash Center’s history, announced last week from Steuterman.
“Wabash Center has been just a huge part of our lives,” Steuterman, a retired U.S. Air Force major general, said.
Steuterman, who has spent time on the Wabash Center board, said that before her husband, Ron, died in 2020, they’d agreed to do as much as possible for the agency, which had provided services for their adult daughters, Erin and Jessie, and her brother, Steven Covington.
“We’ve seen the job they’ve done in making a difference for our girls and for my brother,” Steuterman said. “We wanted other families have the same at Wabash Center.”
The gift includes eventual proceeds from a 160-acre family farm near Bringhurst, northeast of Lafayette in Carroll County. The Steutermans previously had built a home for their daughter Jessie and two other people with special needs, donating it to Wabash Center.
“That was so amazing, and we thought that would be their legacy for Wabash Center,” Jason McManus, Wabash Center president and CEO, said. “Yet, here we are. … To trust us with this gift shows that she’s picked up the mantle for families of those with disabilities, not just for her family but for all those families in our community.”
The $2.5 million will go toward three programs.
Supported living: 60% will be aimed at Wabash Center efforts to provide affordable housing for people with disabilities and special needs.
“Before my husband died, he was comforted to know that our daughters could live in an affordable home in a nice, safe neighborhood,” Steuterman said. “I think this can offer that sort of comfort to other parents, too.”
McManus said Wabash Center has people in 31 homes in its supported living program across Tippecanoe County. He said the gift would help find and afford to find, rent and maintain more.
“The demand isn’t going away,” McManus said. “This gift will help us prepare.”
Guardianship services: Wabash Center operates a grant-funded guardianship program that trains volunteer advocates who are matched with people who need support. McManus said the grant-funded training program has 25 to 30 volunteers.
“People with disabilities and special needs have been living longer than they ever have before, which is wonderful,” McManus said. He said that’s meant that people more often were outliving parents and guardians they rely on for support with bigger decisions in their lives. The volunteer program helps fill those gaps. And the donation will help pay for the program, regardless of grant funding.
“It takes a special person to do this kind of volunteer work,” McManus said.
Jessie’s Attic: Named for the Steutermans’ daughter, the room is stocked, at this point, primarily with furniture and other housewares from her friends, as Wabash Center works out how to handle donations on the new program. When people with disabilities are approved for Medicaid Waiver services to get into a home, they get $1,000 to get things set up. “Just getting a mattress can take much of that,” Steuterman said. Jessie’s Attic would be a spot where people could shop for donated furniture and décor at deep discounts to help fill a home. Jessie’s Attic is expected to be ready later in 2023.
FINAL TWO DAYS, SECOND-ANNIVERSARY SALE: NEW SUBSCRIBERS CAN GET 12% OFF THEIR FIRST YEAR OF BASED IN LAFAYETTE. NOW THROUGH THURSDAY, JUNE 1.
THIS AND THAT …
WATER PIPELINE QUESTIONS FOCUS OF FORUM: Plenty of questions about local water supplies and the demands of regional development still hang out there about recent state suggestions about pumping millions of gallons of water from western Tippecanoe County to help supply a 7,000-acre research park near Lebanon.
The League of Women Voters of Greater Lafayette announced Tuesday it would host a June 26 forum called “Pipelines, Progress and Policy” to discuss what a project like that could mean for Greater Lafayette and future development closer to home.
Among the speakers expected to participate in a forum moderated by Sallie Fahey, retired executive director of Tippecanoe Area Plan Commission: Jane Frankenberger, Purdue professor and extension agricultural engineer; Marty Frisbee, Purdue associate professor and Purdue Groundwater Specialist; Scott Walker, CEO, Greater Lafayette Commerce; state Reps. Mike Aylesworth and Sharon Negele; Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski; and Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh.
The forum will start at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 26, at the Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds, 1406 Teal Road in Lafayette.
MAYOR NOTES GUN VIOLENCE AWARENESS DAY: West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis added his name again this year to declaring June 2 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day, making a plea to stop “the violence that can be created by easy access to a weapon.” Dennis signed a proclamation for the awareness day, held annually on the first Friday of June, during Tuesday’s West Lafayette board of works meeting and encouraged people to wear orange in the name of gun violence prevention that day.
“I know this country stands by its Constitution and a constitutional right to bear arms, I get that,” Dennis said. “But like anything else, an open checkbook sometimes can be a great way to bankrupt you account. And I think people are acutely aware of what’s going on with gun violence, are acutely aware of how guns are being proliferated throughout this country and, more importantly, we are acutely aware of how precious life is.”
OTHER READS …
Indianapolis Star reporter Kayla Dwyer had a piece about how Fostech Inc., a manufacturer based in Seymour, offered deep discounts on personalized AR-15 style rifles to Republican members of the Indiana General Assembly – “No Democrat sales” – bringing up questions about legislative ethics and influence. Here’s the story: “Indiana gun maker offers Republican lawmakers customized AR-15 style rifles, half off.”
Indianapolis Star reporters Evan Frank and Nathan Brown had a look at the record purse won in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500: “Josef Newgarden's $3.6 million payout is part of Indy 500's largest purse in history.”
Thanks, again, to Wintek for sponsorship help with today’s edition of Based in Lafayette.
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