The Center for Human Services will see its support of employment opportunities for those with disabilities grow after a $500,000 donation from the estates of longtime supporters Robert W. Mason and his son, Mark W. Mason.
The elder Mason led Union Savings Bank for 47 years until his death in June 2010. Mark then led the bank until his death in August 2011.
Both men were longtime supporters of the Center, and Robert was a chief organizer of the annual Thanksgiving Ham Breakfast, a fundraiser for the nonprofit, which provides employment for those with disabilities through Cooperative Workshops Inc. and also oversees the Children’s Therapy Center.
Ann Graff, the Center’s executive director, said the gift will be used in part to fund the construction of a greenhouse to be named CHS Bloomin’ Gardens, and will house the Robert W. and Mark W. Mason Horticultural Training Center.
“We are honored with this gift,” Graff said Wednesday. “Robert was a board member from 1981 until he died, and Mark was also a strong supporter. I think the greenhouse is a very befitting tribute to their memory.”
Graff said the greenhouse, which should be open by April, will create about eight jobs initially, though she expects that number to grow as the operation “gets up and running.”
The greenhouse will be built on land behind the Ewing Vocational Center, and will feature flowering and bedding plants and related items.
“As it gets up and going ... we hope to expand to some retail outlets in Marshall, Sedalia and Warsaw,” Graff said.
Robert’s widow, Carol Mason, who took up her husband’s board position after his death, said the family is proud to have their loved ones’ memories and support of the Center carry on through the monetary gift.
“Bob was always a big supporter of the Therapy Center and did the ham breakfast every year. He was just a real believer; Mark, too, in what they do for people. Bob really was a big believer in it, and I wanted to carry that on because that is what he would have wanted,” Carol said.
“It is a really good thing, and we are very happy we could do it. He would be proud.”