Building a Legacy of Giving

This holiday season a special thanks is in order for a recent donation in the amount of $50,000 to the Citrus County Blessings weekend meal program. For several years this annual gift has been given by “Bill,” a local Holder resident, who prefers to remain anonymous.

In recent years the continuous generosity shown by Bill has provided more than 100,000 meals to children in our community. As the largest donor to Blessings year after year, Bill has a special place in his heart for children that don’t have enough to eat. “He regularly blesses our community behind the scenes and without fanfare,” says Grace Hengesbach, Executive Director. “In my years of getting to know Bill I have learned of his incredible compassion. I’ve also had the pleasure of learning a few local history lessons along the way.”

Born in Marion County,  Bill grew up along the banks of the Withlacoochee and Rainbow Rivers. He knows the Rainbow River by its original name, Blue Run. Having delivered newspapers as a teenager, Bill has a sincere fondness for reading the Chronicle. It keeps him informed of day to day news, while also providing information about charitable programs in our area.

Bill likes to reminisce about Dunnellon and the old drive-in theater. It is obvious when he talks that this area is more than just a place to live. It is and always has been his home. Bill entered college in Gainesville to pursue an accounting degree, though shortly after he enlisted in the United States Air Force. Returning after his service to our nation, he wanted to continue his education and got an on-campus job in the University’s cafeteria to pay his living expenses. Obviously, hard work is something Bill learned early.

Bill’s career in accounting spanned decades and eventually relocated him to Pennsylvania. He has held just about every job one can hold in the industry. Bill used this experience to invest his paychecks and grow his wealth. Now retired to Florida, he doesn’t see any sense in holding on to the interest his wealth earns when it could do so much good for the community today.

Each donation given by Bill comes with the same instructions, use the money where the organization needs it most. This year his instructions were a little different. A portion of the donation is designated for a special item to be sent home with the children over the holiday break. Because of Bill’s generosity each child in our program can expect a canned ham to take home for Christmas dinner. “It was important to him that the children have an extra serving of joy this holiday season,” Hengesbach said. “It’s a kind gesture, like a canned ham at Christmas, that makes the hearts of the families we serve swell with gratitude.”

Bill enjoys simple things in life, like reading the Chronicle each morning, spending time with his beloved cat, watching Hallmark movies, and watching his good fortune benefit local charities. There are many life lessons Bill could offer, but it is his personal choice to find joy in helping strangers without rewards that resonates the most.