The Acorn Foundation has recently received a significant gift from the estate of a woman who had made Tauranga her home for the last 21 years. Dr Joan Chappell-Mathias passed away in August 2013, and wanted to leave a lasting legacy, to continue her lifetime of caring for others. Joan was very much a community person, with a special interest in helping those who were less fortunate.

She was born in Liverpool in 1921, trained as a doctor, and spent her professional life working as a GP, a prison doctor and later earning a highly respected reputation as a forensic psychiatrist. She spent 10 years as a supervisor and group trainer of staff at Tauranga’s Hanmer Clinic, helping people with drug and alcohol addictions, and had a special interest in the use of psychodrama to help people affected by unhappy childhoods. She was awarded a Queens Service Order medal in 2006.

Acorn Foundation Chair Glenn Keaney said, “This is an extraordinary act of generosity, which will be of enormous benefit to this region. Acorn will distribute around $100,000 every year from the interest earned by this gift. Joan was a wonderful lady, who spent her lifetime helping others, and now her legacy will continue forever.”

The Acorn Foundation pools and invests the money gifted by its donors, and every year makes distributions to the local community from the interest the fund earns. So the capital is preserved and the giving continues forever. Donors may, if they wish, choose which organisations are to benefit from their fund each year.

“Dr Chappell-Mathias chose the local branch of the Salvation Army to receive a portion of her annual distributions. The balance is not designated, so that will allow the Acorn Foundation to address emerging needs in the region as the years go by,” says Glenn Keaney. “It’s a real strength of Acorn, and gives us flexibility to satisfy our donors’ requirements as well as meet the needs of the community”.

This donation will take the value of Acorn’s endowment fund to a total of $11.5 million.