A Passion for Portage, and for Saving Lives

Bill Tierney & Val

Bill Tierney and Valerie Nehls

As a former two-time mayor, Portage EMT, and a long-time resident of Portage, Bill Tierney is a dedicated supporter of his community - both today and into the future. 

“Portage is full of people who were both charitably inclined and community focused,” Bill told us. Portage had recently seen this community support in the fundraising for several new projects, including a new skate park and a remodeled library.

“The support for these new projects was great. But we also realized that we needed to create an endowment fund to provide for the maintenance and upkeep of these projects so they would remain useful to the community.”

Bill likes to take a thoughtful, long-term view on things. So creating an endowment for Portage made sense to him. “The idea of creating a Community Fund had been out there for a long time. We just had the right group of people to push it across the finish line.” And so, in September 2016, the Portage Area Community Fund was established to “enhance the lives of all citizens in the Portage area” and to “strengthen and enrich the community for present and future generations.”

Bill and Val share another passion — saving lives. After getting the Portage Area Community Fund established, setting up a fund to help save lives seemed natural to them.

“We were talking about the long-term use of funds, and I got to thinking about my daughter’s experience in education and the need for EpiPens in the schools,” Bill recounted. “As a health care professional, I also see the need for life-saving devices every day, and the inability of many nonprofits to purchase them without having to eliminate something else in their budget.”

So Bill and Val created the Saving Lives Charitable Fund to help meet that need.

“Bill and I are passionate about saving lives. We get a lot of delight out of helping people, and we’re fortunate enough to be able to establish a fund that can give organizations the opportunity to purchase or replace life-saving equipment without having to sacrifice something else.”

They established the Saving Lives Charitable Fund as an endowment fund because they wanted the funding it provided to continue long into the future. They make regular gifts to their fund — helping it grow and increasing the amount available for grantmaking. But they like to find ways to make their giving fun, too.

“During the Christmas ‘Giving’ season in 2018, we decided to do just that,” Bill and Val told us. “We called it ‘The 25 Days of Christmas.’ From December 1st through December 25th, we made a donation to the Saving Lives Charitable Trust.”

Their dedicated giving has paid off: The Saving Lives Charitable Fund will be able to begin making grants in 2020. “We would like Saving Lives to be around for a long, long time. Building up the endowed portion of the fund to a point where we can make grants without using that principle will allow Saving Lives to do just that.”

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