Hamer D. and Phyllis C. Shafer Foundation Provides Grant to Muncie Children’s Museum

Artist rendering of new model train exhibit. Photo providedArtist rendering of new model train exhibit. Photo provided

 By Kynda Rinker—

MUNCIE, IN — Throughout their lives, Hamer and Phyllis Shafer invested significantly in the Muncie community. Organizations that created opportunities for youth, particularly disadvantaged youth, were close to their hearts. They strongly valued the arts, education, and wellness, and generously gave of their time and money to help grow foundational organizations within our community.

Since the Muncie Children’s Museum’s opening in 1977, Hamer and Phyllis strongly believed in the value that MCM adds to our community. The Shafers demonstrated their support for the Museum’s first Capital Campaign over 25 years ago by serving as Honorary Campaign Chairs, and also served for a period of time as members of MCM’s Advisory Board.  The mission of the Muncie Children’s Museum, to provide fun through educational and interactive opportunities for children of all ages in a safe and creative environment, aligns directly with the Shafers’ passion for creating opportunities for the youth of our community, while emphasizing art, education, and wellness. Throughout the Museum’s 45-year history, the staff and volunteers of the Muncie Children’s Museum have treasured their relationship with both Hamer and Phyllis personally, and now with their legacy that lives on through the Hamer D. and Phyllis C. Shafer Foundation.

In addition to their donation of $200,000 to the More to Explore Capital Campaign, the Shafer Foundation is sponsoring 6 Free Saturdays at MCM in 2023. On Free Saturdays, the Museum is open to all visitors free of charge and typically provides special programming, such as musical performances, unique art experiences, and safety education. The Museum’s commitment to providing Free Saturdays directly aligns with the Shafer Foundation’s commitment to funding opportunities for high-need populations.

“The Muncie Children’s Museum is a legacy organization that the Shafers were passionate about. I very much believe the organization adds tremendous value to the community by bringing families together and providing enrichment opportunities,” said Kevin Woehler, Shafer Foundation Trustee.

While the Shafer Foundation looks to support organizations that align with the Shafers’ values, when determining who to support, the Foundation needs more than a legacy or a personal connection. The Trustees of the Shafer Foundation apply a strategic and business-minded approach to ensuring that organizations who receive funding are planning effectively for the future, are working toward or have achieved sustainability, and have a strong and engaged Board of Directors. The Trustees provide actionable feedback to organizations who seek funding but have not yet achieved these markers as a way to elevate the performance of those organizations and encourage them to apply again when they have made progress.

“We as a board and organization have benefited immensely from the involvement of the Shafer Foundation,” said Kira Childers, former President of the MCM Board of Directors and current Interim Director of Development. “Their support, advice, and guidance throughout the process of the More to Explore campaign has been invaluable.”

The Shafer Foundation’s support of the More to Explore campaign and MCM annual campaigns demonstrates their confidence in the Museum’s staff and Board of Directors as well as their certainty that the Museum will continue to thrive and fulfill its mission in the Muncie community for years to come.

Said Woehler, “We are very excited to see the new train exhibit come to life! We are also looking forward to the new water table and the construction zone. Providing our local youth with the opportunity to engage with these wonderful new exhibits and the educational programming that will accompany them is something we are confident the Shafers would be proud to support.”

The More to Explore Campaign has currently raised over $2.6 million with a goal of $3 million. To donate or learn about the new exhibits that are part of the More to Explore Campaign, please visit www.moretoexplore.net or contact Kira Childers at kchilders@munciemuseum.com.


Kynda Rinker is Executive Director of the Muncie Children’s Museum.