Reaching out to veterans

Reaching out to veterans
The Kaufman Fund raises money and distributes it to organizations that support veterans across the St. Louis region
By Charlotte Beard

In corporate America there is a concept for “training the trainer” – providing proper preparation for those who train or instruct other people. Perhaps in the nonprofit sector there should be an established concept for “funding the funder” – providing adequate financial resources for those nonprofits that fund other nonprofits.
Wayne Kaufman, President of The Kaufman Fund shared that in the past 20 years the fund has raised and distributed over a million dollars to help local veterans and their families.
“The best part about that is that we have no employees,” stated Kaufman.

A Vietnam veteran, Kaufman went on to share the accomplishments as well as the challenges the nonprofit has faced in funding many veteran initiatives throughout St. Louis. At the end of every year, the grant committee sits down and reviews all the applications received from various 501c3 organizations for fund requests.

Kaufman stresses that his organization only funds organizations that support veterans; however, they never have enough money to fund all the requests. The fund’s money is primarily attained by way of fundraisers. The first fundraiser this year, CP Charities Poker Tournament/Casino Night, took place on May 4. The casino night was a benefit hosted by Casino Patron (CP) Charities at Spazio Westport. CP Charites is a 501c3 organization that collects donations from within the casino industry to help support local charities. Kaufman shared that there were over 200 people in attendance at the event.
The next fundraiser, The Ralph Kaufman Memorial Golf Tournament, will take place Sept. 6 at the Whitmoor Country Club in St. Charles. Ralph Kaufman, former Air Force veteran, was the brother of Wayne. Kaufman shared what golfers can expect for $300: 18 holes of golf, a new pair of golf shoes, brunch, drinks and appetizers, a wine tasting, and dinner. There will also be live and silent auctions. One guest per golfer may accompany for the latter three offerings. Registrations made by July 1 will benefit from a $25 discount and all registrations are $175 tax deductible.

“We have been so blessed,” stated Kaufman. “To have Tom Ackerman of KMOX, and Jay Randolph, Sr. who has been on TV and radio. Now we have Al Hrabosky who is a baseball star.”
Kaufman shared that in the past they have had 137 golfers and over 200 people for dinner.

The Kaufman Fund, which consists of four executive board members and an advisory board, has been making a great impact on veterans and their families since 1990. It was founded in honor of Ralph Kaufman, who volunteered with many charitable organizations, including presided over several of them. With the help of many volunteers for its events, the fund has supported over 100 local veterans and children’s charities in a host of ways. A few of the charities they have funded are: Visions for Vets, UMSL Veteran Programs, FOCUS Marines Foundation, and Fisher House at the Jefferson Barracks Campus of the St. Louis VA Medical Center.

The fund has been a catalyst in homeless veterans and their families receiving housing. Thanks to the fund veterans with PTSD have received therapy as well as benefited from support programs for “mental” wounds. The fund has also enabled veterans and their family members to receive scholarships.

In addition, Kaufman shared that unless a veteran is 100 percent disabled they are not entitled to dental care from the Veterans Administration. To remedy this problem the fund has partnered with a group of St. Louis dentists and the Dental Life Network to provide pro bono dental services. Another beneficial program is the fund’s Legal Referral Program which provides free or low cost legal assistance for veterans in St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County. These are just a few of the ways that the fund is making a difference in the lives of veterans and their families.
One special holiday that the fund has used to make a yearly impact is Christmas. Since December 2014 the fund has distributed over 1,400 to trees to families as part of their campaign called Trees for Vets. Enterprise Bank and Trust and Bommarito Automotive Group are named as its major sponsoring partners. Money that is left over from the sponsorships of the Christmas trees go into the general fund for the grants the organization awards.

“My greatest challenge has been finding a volunteer grant writer and raising awareness [of this fund].” Kaufman went on to explain that raising more awareness will contribute to the increase in funds for the organizations they support. Kaufman estimates that a grant writer for their initiatives might invest time in an average of four to six grants a year.
Kaufman states, “I have two goals. I want to raise as much money as I can and give it all away. My second goal is – I want to become the United Way for all these [veteran] organizations.”
To register for the golf tournament, donate, volunteer or receive assistance visit www.thekaufmanfund.org. You may also call 314-753-8355.

CUTLINE: Submitted photos Over the past 20 years, The Kaufman Fund has raised and distributed over a million dollars to help local veterans and their families.