Birkel Legacy of Compassion

July 21, 2021 / 5 mins read

A Legacy of Compassion -Cochley Memorial Advised Fund Provides COVID -19 Relief

A Daughter’s Story

Despite the confusion and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, people all around the world have joined together to support one another. Whether it be thorough providing financial assistance, making masks, donating food, or simply staying home to protect others, most individuals are able to find a way to remain positive and care for each other.

Judy Birkel is one of these caring individuals. In an act of generosity that continues the legacy of her parents and their service to Wabash County, Birkel created a donor-advised endowment at the Community Foundation. Today, she is using her donor-advised endowment to provide financial assistance to individuals facing hardships and challenges due to COVID-19. The assistance will be provided through grants to help individuals pay their rent, utility, and medical fees if they have temporarily or permanently lost their jobs or are working and have lost childcare supervision due to COVID-19 related business, school, and childcare closures. By recommending a grant to the COVID-19 Assistance Program from her donor-advised endowment, the Community Foundation can use these funds to assist Wabash County citizens by helping them pay their expenses.

How does a Donor-Advised Fund Work?

A donor-advised fund is a charitable giving vehicle established at a public charity, such as a Community Foundation, that allows donors to make contributions, receive immediate tax deductions, and as the fund’s advisor, concurrently or at a later time recommend grants to their most cherished organizations or charitable causes. The advantage of establishing a donor-advised fund with a Community Foundation over a commercial fund, such as Fidelity and Schwab, is that a Community Foundation can provide local expertise to assist advisors in grant making, in addition to building a strong relationship with their advisors to better understand advisor interests or the interests of their loved ones.

Birkel grew up in Wabash County and in 2013 created the Edward and Genevieve Cochley Advised Memorial Endowment to honor her parents, Edward and Genevieve Cochley, and their generosity and community involvement. She had been introduced to the Community Foundation by Dave Mann, a certified financial planner in Wabash County who was helping Birkel through settle her parent’s estate. Birkel wanted to give her estate gift to Wabash County, the home of her parents. As she began to make donations to Wabash County organizations in her parents’ names, Mann suggested she speak with the Community Foundation about setting up a donor-advised endowment, so that she could make ongoing grants to County organizations and keep her parents’ legacies alive.

Attracted to the idea of a donor-advised endowment, Birkel set up a meeting with the Community Foundation. In speaking about the creation of the endowment, Birkel said, “I loved that idea, met with Patty, and got things started. I wanted to leave a piece of my parents in the town they loved and served.” Additionally, by working with the Community Foundation, there

would always be a way for Birkel, who hadn’t lived in the community for more than 30 years, to be aware of the needs and opportunities in Wabash County as they arose. Now, seven years later, Birkel continues to make grants in honor of her parents from her donor-advised fund, the Edward and Genevieve Cochley Advised Memorial Endowment.

Edward and Genevieve had been active Wabash County community members their entire lives and were long-time members of First United Methodist Church. Ed was heavily involved in programs such as TPA, Junior Achievement, and the Wabash Historical Society while Genevieve was an elementary school teacher for 38 years at South Side, Century School, and O.J. Neighbours and served as president of the Women’s Clubhouse Association. Both Ed and Genevieve truly had a passion for serving others, and together, they volunteered as Meals on Wheels drivers.

In speaking about her father and Meals on Wheels, Birkel said, “Dad was best known in the community for his work with Meals on Wheels. He drove a route for 20 years and was the coordinator for 17 years. As coordinator, he organized drivers and their routes, took client recommendations from physicians and families, and handled the finances.” When asked how her parents would have responded to the coronavirus pandemic, Birkel said her parents would have stepped up to assist those in need and would have given generously where they could.

To honor her parents and their servant nature during this time of need and uncertainty for many Wabash County individuals, Birkel recommended a grant from her donor-advised endowment to the Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Assistance Program. The program provides financial assistance through grants to individuals who have permanently or temporarily lost their jobs or to individuals still working but have lost childcare supervision due to COVID-19 related business, school, and childcare closures. Judy is happy to be able to continue her parent’s legacy as the advisor to the Edward and Genevieve Cochley Memorial Endowment, and she is certain her parents would be pleased with the efforts taken by Wabash County citizens to serve one another.

If you or your family have interest in establishing a donor-advised fund to support your most cherished organizations and programs or the interests of a loved one, contact or call (260) 982-4824.