LAWRENCEBURG, Ind., December 21, 2020 – The Dearborn Community Foundation, Inc. (DCF) is honoring three community volunteers as 2020 recipients of the Heart of Gold Award for touching the heart of others through their volunteerism and other acts of kindness.
The Heart of Gold Award honorees deserve the recognition for making a difference in our community in their own unique ways, said Fred McCarter, Executive Director of the Dearborn Community Foundation. “They are role models for how all of us can have a positive impact on others,” he said.
The 2020 Heart of Gold honorees, nominated by a DCF committee and then chosen as Heart of Gold Award recipients by the Foundation’s board of directors, are given the privilege to serve on the “Heart of Gold Grants Committee.” Each recipient recommends a proactive grant(s) totaling $750 to a charitable organization(s) that serve Dearborn County residents.
In recent years, Heart of Gold recipients have been recognized for helping senior citizens or disadvantaged persons, working to improve the quality of education, expanding recreational or cultural opportunities, working with children, protecting the environment, promoting public safety and other acts of kindness.
This year’s honorees are Jada Ankenbauer, Dave Deddens and E.G. McLaughlin. The trio of honorees have much in common, including being very humble about their good works in the community. They also are all three known for having a what-can-I-do-to-help attitude. Another common thread is they truly enjoy helping others to improve the community.
“Volunteering is so important,” said Ankenbauer. “It’s the way we can give back to the community and to ourselves. It’s a circle. You get more back when you’re giving. It’s full circle.”
Deddens says “it’s so much fun to give back. I always have fun getting out there doing something for others. We have a great community that’s always willing to get out there and raise money to help others. It’s a great feeling!”
McLaughlin says he had great examples growing up that impressed him with all that they did in the community. “My mom and my dad were always involved in the community. Others influenced me too. I tell people to give back because you get so much more back. I’ve lived that. I know it’s true.”
This year’s honorees bring the total to 112 for the number of volunteers honored in the 22 years of the program designed to recognize the community’s fine volunteers and to promote philanthropy. To learn more about these Dearborn Countians with “Hearts of Gold,” please read their stories:
Heart of Gold Honorees’ Stories
Jada Ankenbauer’s volunteerism and acts of kindness for others go back to her time in high school and college when she was a Special Olympics volunteer. The Aurora resident, who is a retired special education teacher and former childcare center owner (Lollipops and Rainbows in Aurora), has always been drawn to helping children, especially those in need, said her good friend and 2019 Heart Gold Award recipient Judy Ullrich.
“Jada’s love for children really shows me what kind of person she is,” Ullrich said. “She’s always thinking about the care for and protection of children and it shows through in her charitable donations and volunteer activities.”
An example of this is how Ankenbauer, a volunteer committee member and/or board member at Hillforest Historical Foundation for more than two decades, spearheaded the establishment of the American Girl Doll day camp 16 years ago. Each day for a week a different group of girls, ages 5-14, attend the camp at National Landmark Hillforest Mansion to learn about history, manners, and hardships through quality activities provided by volunteers led by Ankenbauer and Ullrich.
Ankenbauer felt the camp, which includes the girls bringing their American Girl Dolls to teas and other activities, was important as a quality activity for the children. Ullrich says Ankenbauer often makes sure girls, who can’t afford a doll, have one for the camp.
Ullrich says Ankenbauer had great influences in her family. Her mother and father, the late Jama and Bill Lothridge (owners of Bill Lothridge Dodge car dealership in Aurora), were known for helping others in the community, she said.
“She had a great family growing up and that had an influence on her,” said Ullrich. “A great attribute of Jada’s is her community spirit. She grew up in Aurora and it means a lot to her.”
Ankenbauer never wants to be recognized, but she always has great ideas and is always willing to do the work to make things work out great, added Ullrich. “She always recognizes right away when there’s a need.”
When the Dearborn Community Foundation needed a few new volunteer Board members in 2005, Ankenbauer was asked to serve. She served more than a decade as a Board member, including being President and Chairperson of the Board. She also has served on multiple committees, including the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Committee and the Board Development Committee, which recruits new volunteers and plans Board member education. She’s also served on event committees.
“I think the Foundation is the most important non-profit in our county because it touches all of the small organizations in our community through grants from endowment and other programs,” said Ankenbauer. She says DCF has helped its donors help many charitable organizations reach their full potential.
Ankenbauer says being involved with DCF “is the thing I’ve gained the most out of as an adult volunteering. It’s been the most rewarding thing to me. A huge bonus is that you get to know so many other volunteers from all across the county, all with one goal to make things better in our community.”
As a Hillforest volunteer, Ankenbauer says she’s honored to work with such a solid group of people who have a desire for Hillforest to be there in perpetuity. “It takes a lot of hard work,” she said. “it’s satisfying to keep Hillforest going. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and it’s vital to the fiber of the town. It’s really important that we keep the flame burning!
From her early days of volunteering with Special Olympics or the local STEP Ahead Council, Ankenbauer says volunteering still gives her the same wonderful feeling it did then. “I like that feeling and I can’t imagine living life not doing it.”
McCarter says Ankenbauer’s generosity to others will continue in perpetuity at DCF, as she and a good friend and former business partner established an endowment, In The Interest of Children Fund, several years ago to allow the Foundation Board to make grants to support charitable purposes. “She’s not only a great advocate for the Foundation, but she is a fine example of someone who truly cares about her community,” he said.
Dave Deddens of New Alsace has a “habit of hospitality and generosity,” says Father Jonathan Meyer of All Saints Parish in northern Dearborn County. Deddens, who along with his wife Michelle are owners of the Skyline Chili restaurants in St. Leon and Brookville, is known for extending the love he has for his family to the entire community.
“The first word you think of with Dave is family,” said Meyer. “He loves his family and loves being a husband and father. To him, family is the larger community as well. If there’s a funeral, he asks ‘what do they need. Do they have food?’ … He looks at the extended community and says ‘what are they going through.’”
Deddens has served on different boards and committees for non-profits throughout Dearborn County, including volunteering as a member of the Parish Council and Finance Committee for All Saints Parish. He’s a longtime volunteer for the annual All Saints Gobble Wobble 5K on Thanksgiving Day. The event raises funds to support the works of North Dearborn Pantry, Sunman Food Pantry and the East Central High School Food Pantry.
“Dave shows up at 5 a.m. to get signs up and to help direct traffic,” said Meyer. “He’ll do whatever he can to help! … He ushers at church and he donates food at church events. … I know if I call Dave and tell him I need something done, it gets done.”
Deddens is also a longtime volunteer and supporter of the Dearborn Community Foundation. He’s a former President and Chairperson, and he currently serves on the Foundation’s Investment Committee.
“Dave is known by all of us at DCF for always saying ‘what can I do to help?’” said McCarter. “He’s donated food and beverages at our annual golf scramble fundraiser for more than a decade. He’s even there serving up the food and delivering the pop, water and sports drinks. He brings young people along and they are exposed to helping too. … Dave is one of those people, who doesn’t just show up for a meeting or an event, he stays after to help clean up!”
Deddens is also a bigtime advocate of DCF. He’s always excited to share with others what the Foundation helps donors do in the community. “I’m really proud to have served on the Foundation board,” he said. “Everywhere you look around the county, the Foundation has helped make things happen. That’s a great feeling.”
Deddens is also known for doing anything for the kids. He offers any East Central team heading to a sectional tournament a free dinner at St. Leon Skyline Chili, if they win. “We just try to give them a little added incentive to win,” said Deddens.
Deddens also says he’s lucky to grow up and still live in such a giving community. “We have a great community and when push comes to shove, people come out and help,” he said. “Hey, it’s fun to help, to volunteer.”
One of Dave’s favorite things to do is provide meals (along with St. Leon Blimpie’s) to the annual mens’ retreat at All Saints Parish. About 1,400 meals are served during a great fellowship event. “It’s a great feeling,” he said.
Some, like Meyer, would say that Deddens actually helps create a culture of generosity in the community. “He impacts his five children and others in the community with his attitude that “we can make this happen,” said Meyer. “Much of that certainly came from hospitality of his parents (Gerhard and the late Frances Deddens). He’s carrying on what he learned from his family.”
E.G. McLaughlin of Greendale is “the first to get back to you and the first to volunteer,” says Karen Snyder, Director of the United Way of Southeast Indiana. “He’s always there when you need him. He will help and support in any way. …. He’s also one of the nicest people I know,” she said.
Snyder knows what she’s talking about, as she’s witnessed McLaughlin’s volunteerism for part of his more than 40 years of serving on the local United Way Action Council. E.G., as everyone knows him, is known as a steward of leadership in the Southeast Indiana non-profit community. In addition, to being involved with the United Way, he has served many organizations for decades. Some of these include the Youth Encouragement Services, Inc. (YES Home) (Board Member & President), Lawrenceburg Youth Grants Committee at the DCF, Lawrenceburg Community Center (Board Member & Finance Chair), Lawrenceburg Lions Club and Sons of the American Legion. He spent most of his professional career in the banking industry, serving as President and CEO of UCB until his retirement in 2018.
Snyder says E.G. is willing to walk through a crowd to sell tickets or T-shirts to raise funds. “He does all of this volunteer work and he’s always found time for his two daughters, four grandchildren and his wife.”
E.G. got his knack for volunteering early in life with plenty of examples, including his parents. His dad, the late Tom McLaughlin, was a member of Lawrenceburg Kiwanis Club and was involved in many volunteer activities. His mom, the late Betty McLaughlin, was instrumental in many efforts to improve the community, including the establishment of the YES Home (residential group home for abused, neglected and abandoned youth, ages 13-18), and the Dearborn Adult Center in Lawrenceburg.
E.G. also had other examples that go back to when he played youth baseball sponsored by the Lawrenceburg Lions Club. He was impressed by how so many Lions Club members were involved in community activities. “So many of these good people influenced me as a kid,” said McLaughlin.
Lions Club members Chick Schwing and E.G.’s Uncle Bill Caldwell were among his major influences. Schwing, a legend among youth baseball volunteers in Lawrenceburg, was E.G.’s coach. It was Schwing who asked a college-age E.G. to volunteer for the Lions Club. “He called me up and asked if I’d help and soon I was an umpire, managed a team and all kinds of things,” said McLaughlin.
E.G. joined the Lions Club in 1976 and has served on the Board in every capacity, including currently serving as secretary. “I’ve met a lot of great people who are there to give back to the community. We’ve certainly done all kinds of fundraisers and I’ve always enjoyed it,” he said.
During his decades of volunteering, E.G. has been involved in the establishment of a few different organizations and programs in Dearborn County, including Lawrenceburg Main Street, the Lawrenceburg Youth Grant Program at DCF, and the CIVISTA Charitable Foundation (formerly known as UCB Charitable Foundation).
E.G. is quite proud of his involvement in helping to establish the Lawrenceburg Youth Grant Program at DCF. “I feel like this is a great accomplishment for the community, for kids, that I was able to be involved in,” he said. “Again, so many good people made it happen: Bob Ewbank and, of course, then Mayor Melvin Gabbard and the Foundation Board members.”
The Lawrenceburg Youth Grant Program at DCF has awarded more than $2 million in grants to youth organizations across Dearborn County. E.G. has been a member of the grants committee since its start in 1998.
“I was a founding Board member of Lawrenceburg Main Street with E.G. and some other great folks,” said McCarter. “I’ve also had the privilege of serving on the CIVISTA Charitable Foundation Board since its beginning. My experience is that E.G. is always willing to do whatever he can to help others and to do it the right way!”
E.G. is currently President of CIVISTA Charitable Foundation and he also serves as President of the YES Home, the organization his mother, Betty, along with the late Jim Wismann (former sheriff and county councilman), and Glenn Butler (former county councilman) established many years ago. He also continues to serve as a volunteer at St. Lawrence Catholic Church, where he serves on the Finance Committee.
Perhaps E.G.’s role at Greendale Cemetery Association exemplifies best his connection to the community and his effort to carry on a family tradition of volunteering and helping others. He has been the cemetery board’s secretary-treasurer since 1977, following his grandfather E.G. Harry and his aunt Jo Caldwell, who both served in the role before him. “It is like a family tradition,” he said. “The cemetery is important to the community. They say you know how good a community it is by how they take care of the cemetery.”
Each weeknight, E.G. shows just how much he cares. He has the duty of closing the gates at the beautiful Greendale Cemetery. To him, it’s an honor to help take care of one more important piece of his community.