Spotlight on The Easter Family's History & Generosity
Among the quietest of those who provide financial support for affordable housing is the Easter Family Fund managed by the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines. We recently talked with Paul Easter to learn more about the family’s legacy and why in recent years housing has become part of their giving plan, in addition to their bank’s focus on helping first-time home buyers.
When Paul was a teenager and working in the family business of Easter Stores, which many of us will remember as a chain of grocery stores here in Iowa and three other Midwest states, his father Don and Uncle Abe got the family into banking. It was 1967 and they purchased controlling interest in Farmers Trust and Savings Bank in Spencer, Iowa. Along the way Easter Enterprises sold the grocery stores and a few other business interests, bought the bank and today still own some True Value Hardware stores.
“Naturally business interests and opportunities change, but on the philanthropic side our parents, Don and Marian, were steadfast in their commitment to giving back,” shared Paul Easter, who along with his four siblings were raised to believe in education, family responsibility and community service. “They were always quite clear with us, that the balance of their estate would be going to charities. It’s only natural their legacy would continue through organizations that improve the lives of others – especially serving those who have lower incomes.”
Paul, his son Ken and sister Martha Easter Wells, serve as directors on the board for Farmers Trust and Saving Bank where housing has been a key part of the bank’s mortgage lending business. In 2000 Farmers Trust and Savings Bank partnered with the Iowa Finance Authority in the “First Time Home Buyer Program” and has earned the additional honor of a Preferred Partner designation that Paul is quick to credit to the good work of Rita Hoffman and Ryan Davelaar, Mortgage Loan Officers at the bank.
In recent years housing has also become part of the Easter Family Fund’s philanthropic giving where the family’s giving has shifted to support organizations that support social issues and address the basics, such as food and shelter.
“The gap between what many lower-income people are earning versus the money needed to make a living is getting wider and impacting people throughout the state. We are thankful to organizations like The Food Bank of Iowa, Anawim Housing and the Polk County Housing Trust Fund, just to name a few.
We are also grateful to our parents whose legacies live on through us and the investments we are able to make to improve our communities and the lives of people who like us, call Iowa home.”