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Friendship House has its future guaranteed

Former Ottawan creates ‘Bob’s Friends’ endowment

OTTAWA — A former Ottawan, Linda (Schwerdt-feger) Mussallem and her husband Mike have initiated a fund that will ensure the future of Ottawa Friendship House. They have committed to making annual gifts to the organization both during and after their lifetime.

As a result, the Board of Directors for Ottawa Friendship House passed a resolution establishing an endowment program. The board named the endowment program “Bob’s Friends” in honor of Linda’s brother, Bob Schwerdtfeger, who had Down syndrome and benefitted from the services provided by the agency for over 50 years of his life.

“People in town knew who Bob was,” said Linda.  “Even last year, a woman approached my mom and commented on the fact that she remembered Bob and how polite he was.

“I know that he opened doors for many a lady in downtown Ottawa — just as Ottawa Friendship House continues to open doors for so many with developmental disabilities.

“We want to keep those doors opening forever in the spirit of Bob and all who were helpful to him throughout his very happy life.”

Linda’s admiration for their mother’s tireless dedication to Bob and fond memories of growing up with him inspired the endowment fund. Jane (Schwerdtfeger) McCormick, who celebrates her 90th birthday this month, had a passion for helping to better the future of individuals with disabilities.

Her most notable achievement was laying the groundwork for Ottawa Friendship House as one of its founding parents.

“Jane’s vision changed the quality of life for hundreds of men and women with developmental disabilities over the last 59 years,” said Beth Mangold, executive director for Ottawa Friendship House. “And now, Linda and her husband’s vision will help to do the same.”

“Bob’s Friends” will fund future needs of the agency and provide comfort to donors, knowing that Ottawa Friendship House will continue to grow well into the future. Donors who make arrangements for a future gift will be recognized and honored through the provisions of the endowment program.

Contributions may be made in one or more of the following ways:

• Making an outright gift of money, securities, property or other marketable assets
• Creating a charitable remainder trust or life estate gift to benefit Ottawa Friendship House
• Naming Ottawa Friendship House as a beneficiary of a new or existing life insurance policy
• Naming Ottawa Friendship House to receive a bequest in a will or living trust

“This funding adds to the stability of the agency,” Mangold continued. “Ottawa Friendship House, like so many other not-for-profits, often thinks only about the current fiscal year. An endowment helps diversify the organization’s income and reduces dependency.”

An endowment is a restricted fund which preserves the capital. Only the interest from the fund can be spent, not the principal that anchors the endowment. Typically, the interest or annual earnings from the endowment (usually 5%) are spent each year.  The remainder is left to help the fund grow over time and to assure it can produce more while allowing the fund to keep pace with inflation.

For more information about “Bob’s Friends” or to learn how to make a donation, call (815) 434-0737 or email

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