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Vernay Foundation dissolved

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The Vernay Foundation, which funded the building of the library, the Community Children’s Center, the Friends Care Community and many other projects in the village, officially dissolved on Dec. 31, 2008. Recalling its roots, the foundation donated the remainder of the fund to its first recipient, the Children’s Center.

The Vernay Foundation was established in 1953 by Sergius and Suzanne Vernet, owners of the Vernay Patents Company that grew out of Antioch College several years earlier in 1946. The couple opened the foundation to benefit their village, and they started the following year by donating money for the land and most of the building of the new Community Children’s Center.

“The Children’s Center was the first recipient of the foundation’s grant and the last,” longtime foundation president Ruth Aschbacher said. “The foundation was created because Mr. and Mrs. Sergius Vernet believed Yellow Springs needed a nursery.”

According to Aschbacher, the village would continue to benefit again and again, as in 1963 when the Vernay Foundation provided $100,000 in memory of John F. Kennedy to construct a new Yellow Springs library. In 1964 the foundation gave $30,000 for the purchase of an easement for 26 acres near Hyde Road as part of the Country Commons green space between the Glen and Clifton. In 1979 the organization helped fund the building of Friends Care Community on Herman Street. And for nearly two decades, the foundation also gave a $10,000 scholarship each year to one Yellow Springs High School senior who excelled academically and had interest in the sciences.

But when Vernay Laboratories experienced a significant drop in sales in 2000 and then faced the heavy expense of cleaning up contamination discovered at the company’s Dayton Street facility, the foundation suffered financially. According to Vernay Foundation secretary Glenn Collier, the foundation dissolved for lack of funds. At the time of its dissolution, Vernay Foundation trustees included Aschbacher, Collier, George Asakawa, Jewel Graham and Elaine Szelewski.

As the holder of the remaining foundation funds, the Children’s Center hopes to be able to stretch the value of the gift to cover much needed facility improvement projects, according to Children’s Center Director Marlin Newell. By combining the donation with a $7,700 community matching grant the center recently received from the Morgan Family Foundation, Newell hopes the center can draw attention to the need for approximately $100,000 in capital projects.

Newell anticipates the Children’s Center will especially need to replace three of the facility’s original furnaces, replace and repair the roof over the toddler side of the building and replace part of the yard’s fence. Other necessary but less pressing improvements include replacing some of the flooring and carpet that was not included in the improvements made three years ago, thanks to a grant from parents Jeff and Esther Green.

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