Family Legacy: A gift for many
When Sarah Hammond's father, Carroll E. Sammetinger, JD '49, passed away in 1985, her mother, Audrey, established a charitable gift annuity with Ohio Northern University in his memory that both provided an income and established the Carroll E. Sammetinger Law Scholarship. When Audrey passed away in 2009, the scholarship came to life, and every year since then, it has awarded financial support to worthy students in the College of Law.
Something else started in 2009 that has continued to this day. Sarah began receiving thank-you notes from the ONU law students who benefited from her family's philanthropy. In each one, she sees the same love for the law that led her father to Ada in 1946. She sees the same desire to make a difference.
"I'm so glad that Ohio Northern encourages its students to write to the donors because that just adds to the connection. Suddenly you have a name, and you can read about what they want to do with their life. It completes the circle," she says.
This past year would have been Sammetinger's 100th birthday, and Sarah wanted to do something to honor her dad. So, in April, she and her husband, David Fales, traveled east from their Tucson, Ariz., home to Ada, Ohio, to visit the place that meant so much to her father. According to Sarah, he loved Ohio Northern for the education it provided him. He'd always wanted to be a lawyer in a small town, and so he and Audrey moved to Centerburg, Ohio, upon receiving his degree. He established a successful practice there and would also practice law in Knox, Morrow and Delaware counties.
The trip marked Sarah's first time back to Ada since the 1970s and yet, in all that time, she always felt close to ONU. "Ohio Northern has been a part of my whole life," she says.
Not only did Sarah and David tour the Tilton Hall of Law and see a drastically different ONU campus from what she remembered, they had the opportunity to see her family's legacy alive and well in the form of third-year law student Carter Brown.
"Our visit back to ONU was wonderful, and meeting Carter was the icing on the cake. I think my dad would be very proud that this young man is going to benefit from a small gift from our family," says Hammond.
In meeting Carter, as with receiving the thank-you notes from recipients over the years, Hammond was able to reflect on the impact of her family's gift. She believes that if you love something, and you see that it has value and meaning, you should support it. As a scholarship recipient herself at the University of Arizona, she became a donor to her alma mater because it gave her a rewarding 40-year career as a journalist. She established an endowed scholarship like her mother did because of the lasting benefits to students - and donors, alike - she knows it can make.
"I like endowments because they are perpetual," she says. "The award amount may go up or down with the economy, but there will always be a gift."
Sarah and David's philanthropy doesn't end there. Although neither are a graduate of ONU, they are both members of ONU's Heritage Club through provisions for Northern in their estate that will benefit the Sammetinger Law Scholarship.