Weinberg foundation donates $31 million in fiscal 1993

March 14, 1993|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Staff Writer

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation donated $31 million during its 1993 fiscal year, with Baltimore continuing to benefit from its long ties to the real estate billionaire who left his fortune to charitable work.

Awards for the fiscal year ending Feb. 28 were announced last week.

They included $500,000 for a senior activities center at the Govans Presbyterian Church and $375,000 toward subsidized housing for the elderly in Baltimore.

But a local grant for the relatively modest sum of $19,800 gave the trustees the biggest kick, said trustee Bernard Siegel. The gift bought television sets for Baltimore dialysis patients to watch during treatments.

"I wish I could find a thousand like that," said Mr. Siegel. "We heard about that project and smiles just lighted up on every face."

Mr. Weinberg made similar gifts when he was alive -- underwriting ice cream for residents of Baltimore's Levindale Hebrew Geriatric, and authorizing $2 million on the spur of the moment for air conditioning for nursing homes in Israel.

He founded the foundation in 1959, but it existed in relative obscurity until his death in 1990. Enriched by infusions of cash in the years before Mr. Weinberg's death, the foundation was catapulted into the top 25 nationally, with assets of nearly $800 million.

The five-member board, governed by a detailed charter, continues to make gifts in line with Mr. Weinberg's pet concerns -- senior citizens, housing and religious groups' construction projects. At least half of the donations must go to Jewish or Christian charities, and 30 percent to construction projects, Mr. Siegel said.

"Mr. Weinberg's whole life and everything he did, when you boiled it down to its essence, it all came down to real estate," Mr. Siegel said. "It was what he was comfortable with and what he knew."

The gifts reflect a geographical affinity as well. Born in Eastern Europe, Mr. Weinberg made his fortune in Baltimore, Hawaii and Scranton, Pa. These locations always appear on the annual list, as does Israel. But other states, such as Kentucky, West Virginia, New Mexico and Texas, also benefit.

In the 1993 fiscal year, the gifts ranged from $1,000 to $2 million. The recipients include:

* Baltimore City Foundation Inc., awarded $207,500 for various programs serving the needy.

* Boy Scouts of America, Baltimore Area Council, $26,000 to rebuild a burned-out camping lodge for disabled Scouts.

* Jewish Family Services, $39,700 to buy subsidized housing.

* Jubilee Baltimore, Inc., $25,000 for housing.

* Santa Claus Anonymous Inc. of Baltimore, $2,500 for annual gifts to families.

* Hebrew Home of Greater Washington Inc., Rockville, $500,000 for refurbishment.

* United Israel Appeal and United Jewish Appeal, $1.2 million for a joint project to build and renovate housing for the elderly.

* Institute for Human Services (Hawaii), $1,025,000 for an endowment to operate a homeless shelter.

* American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Israel, $245,000 for construction of a home for Arab elderly.

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