Donor Spotlight

Donor Spotlight

Jo Ellen Diehl Yeary | Generosity rooted in pride, remembrance, dedication to home

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Jan & Tom Hodson | Making a Difference with their IRAs

Jan and Tom Hodson have supported the people and communities of Appalachian Ohio for years through contributions to the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio’s scholarship program. This year, with a gift to FAO’s I’m a Child of Appalachia® Fund through the IRA charitable rollover, the pair was able to continue their support for the region they call home and see their gift matched dollar-for-dollar.

During the ‘50s and ‘60s, Jan spent her childhood growing up in Glouster, in Athens County. It was her personal experiences growing up in the region that instilled a lifelong passion for supporting the children of Appalachian Ohio, and motivated her to give to the I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund.

“As a child, I sensed that there was something a little bit different about where I was growing up,” Jan said, referring to her upbringing in Glouster, Ohio. “Now, as an adult, my heart is dedicated to helping children in this area understand that they can have a future, and that opportunities do exist for them. That’s what drew me and Tom to give to the I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund.”

The I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund works to meet the most pressing needs and promising opportunities for Appalachian Ohio’s people and communities, both today and tomorrow. Half of each gift to the I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund builds an endowment to meet the changing needs of our communities as new and often unpredictable needs continue to emerge over time. The other half supports projects within the next 1-5 years. As our communities continue to respond to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for permanent, philanthropic resources that are available to meet immediate and changing needs has never been more evident.

Currently, the Fund is deploying emergency response dollars to increase broadband access throughout our region’s communities, as COVID-19 has deepened the consequences of existing disparities in broadband access. The Fund is simultaneously pursuing initiatives across other areas crucial to quality of life, including fostering positive mindsets and supporting children with books and youth-led substance use prevention.

“So many children and young adults in this area equate being economically disadvantaged with being less than, and they believe that they just aren’t up to the same caliber as others,” Tom said. “If there is anything we can do that gives those young people the opportunity to see that they are just as good and smart and worthy, then we want to do that. A gift to the I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund has allowed us to help children access opportunities they might not otherwise have had, and help children have positive experiences and develop a more positive self-image.”

Jan and Tom were able to support the I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund with a gift through their IRAs. Individuals 70 ½ or older are able to direct up to $100,000 from their IRA to support charitable causes while paying zero taxes on the amount transferred. These charitable gifts also count toward an IRA’s required minimum distribution – the amount that individuals 72 or older are typically required to withdraw from their IRA annually (though this was waived in 2020).

While Jan and Tom have a long history of charitable giving, their IRAs’ required minimum distribution was one reason they chose to make their gift to the I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund through IRA transfer.

“I’m of the age that I had to start taking distributions from my IRA,” said Tom. “I could either transfer funds for myself and have to pay taxes on them, or I could allocate the funds as charitable gifts and not have to pay income tax on the money. To me it was a no brainer to think that we could help people in our region directly, and at the same time save ourselves a tax burden.”

Jan and Tom both encourage others to consider the option of an IRA transfer for their charitable giving, and to consider a gift to the I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund as well – not least because one of the projects that feels most personal to Jan requires additional funding to get off the ground.

“When I was in third grade in Glouster Elementary, I found that I couldn’t see what was being written on the board in class,” Jan said. “I started performing worse in school, and I failed tests and assignments. As a child, I didn’t realize that the issue was related to my vision. For all I knew, everyone was seeing the same way I was seeing. But my teacher mentioned it to my parents, and I was lucky that my parents had enough resources to take me to the optometrist in Athens, and I got glasses. Those glasses made such a big difference to my academic work. But I think about all the children who don’t have those resources, and how difficult it is to learn when you don’t have access to needed vision care. That’s why I was so excited to learn that FAO was pursuing a partnership with Vision to Learn through the I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund that would connect children in Appalachian Ohio with vision care. This project is not yet fully funded, and I would really love to see it come to fruition.”

To help this project come to fruition, and to support a variety of other initiatives that foster positive mindsets and pursue the greatest needs and most promising opportunities throughout our communities, make a gift to the I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund today.

Gifts can be made in many ways, including through cash, bequests, and life insurance. Donations can be made online by visiting To mail your donation, please designate the fund and mail to the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, PO Box 456, Nelsonville, OH 45764.

To give through an IRA transfer, contact your IRA administrator. Because of the popularity of the IRA charitable rollover, most administrators provide forms and a procedure to help you make a rollover gift easily. To initiate an IRA transfer today, tell your IRA administration that you want to make a gift to the I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, and that our EIN is 31-1620483.

As Tom put it, “Especially during times of uncertainty like we’re in now, we all have to look at ways of giving outside of ourselves and how we can help our communities. We have to help each other, and now is the time.”