Faces of Philanthropy: Fred and Virginia Hamisch

August 29, 2014

Quiet appreciation for the service of others has been a lifelong theme of Fred and Ginny Hamisch's philanthropy. A steady stream of generosity is the legacy they created. In 2007, after selling Hydratec, an irrigation dealership he owned for nearly 20 years, Fred and his wife Virginia (Ginny) established the Fred and Virginia Hamisch Charitable Fund, a donor-advised fund at Kern Community Foundation.

"Before selling the company, we had always been involved in some aspect of community service but did not really have much money to give," Ginny said.

"We were introduced to the benefits of giving through a community foundation by our attorney, Terrence Werdell, and CPA Novena Weaver. We trusted their advice and appreciated the opportunity to thoughtfully plan our giving, which has really been a new experience for us."

That same year, the couple made a gift of $500,000 to the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department in Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. This gift launched the university's efforts to offer online irrigation classes.

In Fred's words, the couple's gift to Cal Poly was "our way of saying 'thank you' for the education I received."

The Hamischs moved to Bakersfield in 1966, shortly after Fred's graduation from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and the conclusion of his military service.

Ginny's first impressions of Bakersfield were of "the heat" and also of the many opportunities to "get involved."

One of Ginny's first volunteer commitments was through the local office of Children's Home Society, which provided services to families involved with adoptions. In 1975, she joined the Junior League of Bakersfield and remains a sustaining member.

"Ginny has always been the face of our family's community service," Fred said. "She has done all the work."

To his credit, Fred currently serves on the Bakersfield Museum of Art Board of Directors. Today, Ginny's community service continues through the Bakersfield Museum of Art's Blue Ribbon Circle and the Women's and Girls' Fund of Kern Community Foundation.

In 2008, and again in 2014, Fred and Ginny used their donor-advised fund to make anonymous matching grants that helped start and ultimately finish the Women's and Girls' Fund's Building to a Million campaign.

Today, the Women's and Girls' Fund endowment has grown to more than $1 million in assets, and makes annual grants to local charitable organizations that work to improve the lives of women and girls in Kern County.

"I have always admired the people involved in the Women's and Girls' Fund," Ginny said. "We wanted to do something to encourage more people to be a part of it."

In Kern County and beyond, the Hamischs' thoughtfully planned generosity is sure to make a difference for many generations.

To learn about how you can permanently impact nonprofit organizations in our community, contact our Donor Services at 661.616.2617 or donorservices@kernfoundation.org.

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