The Zoé Vallé Lightfoot Endowment Fund
The Zoé Vallé Lightfoot Endowment Fund is overseen by the Library’s Committee of Trustees and administered by the Municipality of the District of Chester.
In 1928, Mrs. James Starr of Philadelphia, who summered at “Wisteria” here in Chester, offered to contribute one thousand dollars toward an endowment fund to take care of the upkeep and equipment of Zoé’s property as a free community library. It is said that she personally convinced others to donate and raised seven thousand dollars more in four hours. Without her effort, the Zoé Vallé Memorial Library would never have been established.
When the Fund was created in 1928, it totaled seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500.). Adjusted for inflation, that would be one hundred and six thousand two hundred dollars ($106,200.) in 2016 dollars. The interest from this fund was to take care of the operation and maintenance of the Library property.
Falling interest rates have meant a serious drop in income from investments, starting in 1995 and continuing to the present day. In order to stop the principal of the Endowment Fund from being eroded, an annual solicitation of donations from the community was begun.
This fundraising has, for the most part, managed to cover operating expenses and not only preserve the Endowment Fund’s capital, but to increase it to its highest level in many years.
While the erosion of the Endowment Fund has been prevented over the past decade, it is still just over its 1928 mandated level. The original intention of the Fund was to cover all operational costs through investment income, however interest income only partially covers these costs.
Large expenditures, such as painting the property, have the potential to seriously decrease the Fund. The Library was fortunate in 2003 to have the painting of the property paid for by the Hansen-MacDonald family. Indeed, the strength of the Fund is due as well to the financial support that Sir Christopher Ondaatje has contributed in recent years as well as the donations of a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
It is vital to the future of the Fund, and the Library itself, that the Fund be kept at its original level or increased. In the meantime, it will be necessary to solicit donations, large and small, on an annual basis to cover operating expenses.
Financial information for the past few years is available below. If you want more information, you can contact the Librarian.
Donations to the Fund are tax-deductable if over ten dollars. Below is a donation form that you can download and use at your convenience. It contains all the information you will need: