COVINGTON — Miami County celebrated National Philanthropy Day at the new Covington K-8 building Wednesday evening, honoring a local business and hearing from two community members for their contributions to the community..
The Miami County Not-For-Profit Council hosted the event with the Troy Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with other chambers of commerce in Miami County.
Stephen Nierman, pastor of Covington Lutheran Church, opened the event with a prayer and Madison Williams, a junior at Covington High School and member of the choir, sang “God Bless America” for the attendees.
As the event was held in Covington, the Covington Chamber of Commerce chose a local business to honor for its charitable endeavors over its 130 years of existence.
“(Covington) Savings and Loan has blessed our community in so many ways,” Glen Hollopeter, past president of the Covington Chamber of Commerce, said.
Hollopeter added that the community was lucky to have Covington Savings and Loan in the community, including its CEO Ron Sutherland, board of directors, and employees.
Sutherland spoke briefly, first describing how the bank was established in 1886 with six customers.
“They got $300 put together … to give the first mortgage loan out,” Sutherland said.
The loan went to the construction of a home of a German mason.
“He lived in that home for several years, so over the years, that’s where it all started in 1886.”
Covington Savings and Loan survived the Great Depression, Sutherland said. He noted that there were about 140 home owners struggling to make their loan payments during that time. Covington Savings and Loan decided to allow the home owners to pay what they were able to pay until they got back to work, which saved properties from becoming foreclosures.
“They were able to maintain their properties, get a cut, and go forward,” Sutherland said. “I thought that was kind of unique back in the Great Depression where a lot of people lost their homes and lost their jobs.”
Sutherland said that type of mindset regarding customer service set the pace for the business going forward.
“Our philosophy has always been community first,” Sutherland said.
Also during the event, the attendees heard from a sophomore at Covington High School who recently gave back to the community with his Eagle Scout project.
Michael Schafer, a member of Boy Scout Troop 343, recently earned the designation of Eagle Scout with his project to honor veterans, replacing marble grave markers of veterans with white granite headstones in Highland Cemetery.
Schafer felt it was important to honor veterans, saying, “I thought if I could give just a little bit back, maybe I could accomplish something.”
Schafer’s project added up to nearly 220 hours of work spread out over six months, which included two weeks of labor.
“I couldn’t have done it without my parents,” Schafer said, also noting help from his Boy Scout troop.
Following Schafer, community member Mark Miller went to the podium and finished off the event. Miller graduated from Newton High School and Miami Valley Career Technology Center. He founded Millmark Construction Inc. in 1992 and Milcon Concrete in 1995. Miller is also a current Covington Board of Education member.
Miller took a moment to talk about a fundraiser he began in 2007, the Austin Miller Memorial Fund, after the sudden passing of his oldest son Austin. The fund went toward scholarships for graduates of his son Austin’s graduating class and his son Trevor’s graduating class as well.
“I try to take every opportunity that I can to speak about this and my prayer is that, with time, it will become easier,” Miller said. “Shortly after Austin’s passing, I was approached by employees and customers who wanted to do something in memory of Austin.”
His son left an impact on those who worked with Miller, who talked about how his sons would visit him at work.
“One of my best memories of my boys coming to visit the office where I spend a lot of time … is they would go around the office and shoot rubber bands at all the office help,” Miller said. “The employees would save these rubber bands and liberally disperse them to my boys.”
Miller said his employees were quick to do something in Austin’s memory, which led to holding a memorial golf outing annually for six years. Their original goal was to raise at least $10,000 each year for a total of $60,000 worth of scholarship funds.
“It became evident we were going to well exceed our goal,” Miller said.
After those six years, they raised over $170,000. People continued to contribute to the fund even after the fundraising was over, bringing the total to over $207,000.
“I’m very blessed and very fortunate to live in such a great community,” Miller said.
Miller added later, “We’re very honored and humbled to be able to help the young folks in our community.”
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336