On September 8th, GiGi’s Playhouse Fort Wayne was awarded $5,000 from the James Davis Fund, held at the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne during the 100th year celebration at the Embassy Theater. This grant is designated for a special event/field trip for the participants at our Playhouse.
The James Davis Trust was established by James’ father, Haywood Davis, who was part of the group of local business leaders who resurrected the Community Foundation in 1956 after it had gone dormant during the 30s and 40s. Through Haywood’s involvement with rebuilding the Community Foundation and his appreciation for the mission of the organization, he chose to include the Community Foundation in his estate plans. In 1982 Haywood established the James Davis Trust to provide for the care and wellbeing of his son James, who had autism. The trust was written to provide during James’ lifetime for him to go fishing, travel and take trips, hire caregivers, car drivers, anything that would help improve James’ quality of life.
Because of the great quality of life and care James received, he far outlived his life expectancy passing away at the age of 81 in April 2021. And in keeping with Haywood’s desire from 1956 to continue the Community Foundation’s work into perpetuity and provide for the organization’s sustainability, he names the Community Foundation as a 1/3 beneficiary of the remainder of the Trust with no designation on how to use the money.
In November 2021 the Community Foundation Finance Committee and Board of Directors approved allocation $500,000 of the gift from the Trust to create the James Davis Endowed FOI Fund to honor Haywood and James Davis and continue the legacy of the Davis name in perpetuity. The purpose of the Fund is to benefit programs for people with developmental disabilities, specifically to pay for outings and programs like those that James enjoyed during his lifetime that enhanced his quality of life.
At GiGi’s Playhouse, this provides the opportunity to go into the community and to bring community groups to the Playhouse to spread our mission of changing the way the world views Down syndrome. We can only spread our mission if we get into the community more and bring the community in to the Playhouse in purposeful ways. We are honored to be one of three organizations chosen for this special grant and cannot wait to enhance the lives of the more than 340 families we currently serve.