Impact Stories

Constructing Change in the Lives of Students Leads to Legacy of Giving

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It started with a coat.

When Kathleen Painter found one of her students without a coat, she tidied hers up with a new lining and hem and made sure that the student would be warm through the winter. 

That was the first act of giving that inspired a lifetime of generosity and care. 

Kathleen moved to Spiceland when she was five years old. Her parents brought their family to the area after World War II and settled in an old house in the community. Here in Henry County, she met her husband, Charles, raised her family, and taught in schools for over 30 years. 

During her years in the education system, Kathleen saw many students with pressing needs, whether that be a coat in the cold months or a listening ear during a difficult time. When a crisis arose for a student, the principal of the school would go to Kathleen and tell her, “you’re on,” knowing that she would do what it takes to care for that student’s needs. 

Though she had to retire from teaching due to health issues, she never retired from giving back to the town she loves and constructing change in her community. Over the years, she and her family have volunteered with 4H, the Spiceland Library, Spiceland Friends Church, Spiceland Freedom Days, and so many other organizations and events. Kathleen expressed her gratitude, “I have a heart for this small town. I have been given so much from this community. As long as I am able, I want to keep giving back.”

 She went on to share, “My husband and I have always had what we needed. We’ve always felt compelled to give back. We taught our daughters to do the same. When you give, not just in physical ways but through care and love, you never worry about what you might get back. Because it’s all going to be okay. It’s so rewarding.” 

Their spirit of giving led Kathleen and her late husband, Charles, to create funds and become legacy donors at the Henry County Community Foundation, the Charles and Kathleen Painter Friends of the Spiceland Library Fund, and the Spiceland Community Fund. “I so appreciate the work of the Foundation. Once we raised our kids, we wanted to help the community more. Everybody needs a little bit of help in some way. Hopefully, these funds can provide that help for years to come. I would like for the library to stay open forever. It means so much to this community. I’m thankful for all that it has provided for my family and others,” expressed Kathleen.