The OCF Reed and Carolee Walker Fund
An Extraordinary Legacy for Children in Our Community
When Reed and Carolee Walker moved to Ashland from Idaho in 1988, they brought a passion for growing roses and a dedication to helping those in need. To friends and neighbors, they were known for a quiet sense of philanthropy, helping those that needed a lift. Reed’s family inheritance came from the sale of the family bakery in Kansas City, Missouri to Anheuser Busch in the early 1940s and made it possible for the couple to give generously throughout their lives. Children’s programs in Jackson County were often the beneficiaries of their altruism.
With the passing of Carolee in 1999 and Reed in 2003, the Walkers left an extraordinary $29 million bequest to the Oregon Community Foundation. At the time, it was the largest single charitable gift ever made in Oregon, and it doubled the discretionary funds administrated by OCF to support nonprofit organizations and students throughout the state. The OCF Reed and Carolee Walker Fund is a permanent endowment providing grants to nonprofit organizations serving low-income people, especially children, throughout Jackson County. The Walkers’ original bequest has since grown to $44 million, while distributing more than $27 million in grants over the past 15 years.
The Asante Ashland Community Hospital School Nurse Program wouldn’t be where it is today without the generous spirit of Reed and Carolee. Since 2005, the Reed and Carolee Walker Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation has contributed $505,000 to ensure K – 8 students in the Ashland and Talent/Phoenix School Districts have access to a School Nurse. Registered nurses provide daily health care services to approximately 20 students per day, and more than 2,900 students per year. The nurses see children for health screenings and make educational presentations. They also provide case management for students with complex health needs such as asthma, diabetes, allergies, and behavioral health issues.
Belinda Brown, RN has been overseeing the school nurse program since it began and understands school nurses provide more than just health care. “The needs of the children often go beyond the physical,” Belinda explains. “Our nurses treat the whole child, developing trusting relationships with the family as well. This level of compassionate care helps kids get their needs met so they can thrive at school and at home.”
Because 100% of the funds the Ashland Community Foundation receives are always allocated directly to designated programs, we can proudly say the children in our community are healthier today thanks to Reed and Carolee Walker. We are grateful for their generosity and honored to fulfill their vision for healthier, happier children in our community.