Eccles Foundation’s generosity to rural communities has impact in Sanpete
By Robert Green
Sanpete County residents can be thankful the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation hasn’t forgotten rural Utah when it comes to generosity.
In fact, nearly every city, town and school in Sanpete has benefited from the Foundation’s philanthropy in the past 36 years.
In Sanpete County alone, the Foundation has helped fund buildings at Snow College; restored opera houses, theatres and dance halls; preserved a multitude of landmarks, museums, art galleries and libraries; beautified many cities, roads and streets; and fixed up many parks, playgrounds and schoolyards.
The Foundation has just released a 90-page report that commemorates its 60th anniversary and outlines over $600 million in grants and donations the Foundation has made since 1982 to improve the lives of all Utahns.
It’s no secret the Foundation goes out of its way to help small communities.
Lori Nay, the mayor of Gunnison and co-director of the Casino Star Theater, will attest to this. “The Eccles Foundation has been a savior to rural Utah,” she said. “They are one of the few foundations that reach out and care about rural Utah and the things we care about. They really do invest in our communities in ways that matter. So I think they are an incredible organizations and I am grateful for them.”
The Foundation has helped fund many different projects for Gunnison City since 2004, particularly helping preserve the Casino Star Theater, she said.
The Eccles Foundation has played a significant and crucial role in establishing the Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area (MPNHA), said Monte Bona, MPNHA executive director who is executive director of the Mt. Pleasant Community Development and Renewal Agency.
“They started out giving us a $10,000 grant to help prepare a management plan (for the MPNHA) and over the years they have contributed millions of dollars to many worthwhile projects in Sanpete County,” he said. “We always try to work closely with them as they are extremely helpful with our projects.”
Sanpete County residents have appreciated the benevolence of the Eccles Foundation for a long time now.
A 2003 editorial in the Sanpete Messenger thanked the Foundation for giving more than $2 million to help build the Snow College Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, the Pioneer Memorial Gardens at the base of the Manti Temple and the Greenwood Student Center.
“Where would Sanpete County (or Utah for that matter) be without the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation?” the editorial asked.
Spencer F. Eccles, chairman and CEO, said the Eccles Foundation was created to strengthen communities and touch the lives of people in every corner of the state.
“I can’t help but be an optimist! I love Utah,” Eccles wrote in the 60th Anniversary Report. “I believe in our communities. I firmly believe in our people and especially our youth, who represent the future of our state.
“I feel greatly blessed to be a Utahn and an American. I am proud of our strong values of compassion, integrity and hard work, and of our rich Western heritage—all of which set the stage for a promising future that gives each of us an opportunity to make a meaningful difference.”