January 21, 2020 —The John Bartram Arboretum Endowment Fund was established by Kendal at Oberlin residents Anne and Jim Helm just about a year ago. The endowment fund of $10,000 is for the benefit of the John Bartram Arboretum of the Kendal at Oberlin life plan community.
Their planning dates back to the summer of 2015 when two couples (one of which was the Helms) were enjoying dinner together, and there was mention of the many beautiful trees on the Kendal at Oberlin campus. The conversation continued and the question, “why not an arboretum?” was posed.
An Arboretum Takes Shape
Late that same year, the John Bartram Arboretum at Kendal at Oberlin, was accredited by ArbNet, (the international network of arboretums),as a Level I arboretum through the initiative and work of Kendal residents, support from Kendal at Oberlin’s CEO and the Horticulture Committee. Support has been raised from grants and private donations.
Caring and compassionate describes both Jim Helm, Emeritus Professor of Classics at Oberlin College and Anne Helm, retired teacher and masters-level social worker. They have worked tirelessly providing many volunteer hours for organizations and causes, here and abroad.
The Helms have always had a love of the outdoors, and passionate about the environment and conservation. Jim and Anne have been hands-on involved as the arboretum came to fruition and beyond.
A Commitment to Caring for the Environment
As they were making financial decisions late in 2017, their vision of the arboretum was not just of today, or a decade from now, but beyond the time they could imagine. This is what prompted their generous contribution, while making a statement of what they value.
Quite unexpectedly, Jim died less than a year after their gift was given. As a member of the Kendal at Oberlin Arboretum Committee, Anne continues the work that has been of great importance to both her and Jim. She hopes that the endowment may be helpful in moving the arboretum closer to a Level II.
Grace Tompos, Philanthropy Committee Chair on Kendal at Oberlin’s Board of Directors, said “The John Bartram Arboretum Endowment established at Kendal at Oberlin in 2017 will provide significant support for the arboretum. This endowment is a thoughtful way for donors to strengthen the arboretum in the years ahead.”
Arboretum Supports the Land, People and the Greater Community
Relationships have developed as a result of the stewardship of this 100+ acres arboretum, with more than 1,000 planted trees. The Kendal Early Learning Center’s children benefit from outdoor experiences; the City of Oberlin is greener as a result of tree plantings; the Oberlin College Environmental Studies Program’s students are offered internships; and the Ohio Division of Forestry offers guidance and education.
A tree was recently donated to the arboretum in memory of Jim Helm, by a Kendal resident. Barbara Thomas, CEO, noted “This endowment reflects the shared Kendal value of caring for our environment. It is so touching that Jim and Anne did this together opening up the opportunity for now others to deepen the sustaining roots of our Arboretum.”
Jim’s legacy will be the quiet, unassuming way he went about his entire life doing so much good…an example for all.