New fund at Community Foundation honors Quincy’s heritage as ‘city of refuge’

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QUINCY — A new charitable fund at the Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri will honor Quincy’s shared history with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while providing for the future.

The fund was established in gratitude for the citizens of Quincy who provided refuge to early members of the LDS Church. It will generate annual support for human and social services in Quincy, assisting individuals and families in need.

The City of Refuge Fund was established by Daryl and Patricia Ward of Kansas City. The Wards’ ancestors were among the thousands of members of the LDS Church who sought safety and shelter in Quincy during the winter of 1839 following an executive order calling for the Mormons to abruptly exit the state of Missouri.

“Our ancestors were among the people who were aided by the good citizens of Quincy, so we wanted to personally give and honor that heritage,” Daryl Ward said in a press release.

The fund will meet the Wards’ goal by providing a permanent source of support to Quincy citizens in need, mirroring the aid that the citizens of Quincy provided to the Wards’ ancestors and thousands of other members of the LDS Church. Because the fund is endowed, the Wards’ gift will be invested for growth. A portion of the interest earned will be used for grants to nonprofit organizations each year.

Former Quincy Mayor Chuck Scholz says the hospitality shown by Quincy residents during the winter of 1839 has been described as “one of greatest humanitarian acts in the history of our country.” To put the act into context, it would be roughly the equivalent of today’s Quincy population offering refuge to more than 130,000 individuals.

According to Brigham Young University’s Religious Studies Center, Quincy residents provided shelter, food and jobs while also renting out their farms to the exiled Latter-day Saints. On Feb. 3, 1841, Joseph Smith presented to the Nauvoo City Council the following resolutions, which paid a fitting tribute to the residents of Quincy: “Resolved … that the citizens of Quincy be held in everlasting remembrance, for their unparalleled liberality and marked kindness to our people, when in their greatest state of suffering and want.”

“I want the citizens of Quincy today to understand and appreciate our history as a city built by immigrants. It’s imperative that the hospitality and respect shown by our Quincy ancestors back then be engrained and passed on from one generation to the next,” Scholz said in a press release.

The City of Refuge Fund exemplifies the spirit of endowment, honoring our roots while growing resources for the future.

“The generosity exhibited by our early residents is mirrored by this gift. We should all be inspired to emulate this compassion for those in need,” said Catherine Bocke Meckes, Community Foundation CEO. “Every grant made from the City of Refuge Fund will be a reminder of our shared history and to live each day with kindness and empathy.”

To make gifts or to learn more about the fund, contact the Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois & Northeast Missouri at (217) 222-1237 or info@mycommunityfoundation.org.

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