A Blessing in Return
Jared Jost is thankful to have been able to do what many of his classmates could not—move back to Hillsboro and begin a career and family.
After graduating from Hillsboro High School in 1996, Jost, the son of Cal and Tam Jost of rural Hillsboro, went to Kansas City Community College to study mortuary science. By 1999, he was back in Hillsboro as the proud new owner of Jost Funeral Home, formerly Hillsboro Memorial Chapel.
Now’s he also the proud husband to wife Julia and father to 2-year-old Moriah, and he and Julia are so glad to be able to raise their family in the town his family has called home for more than 100 years.
“My family migrated from Russia in 1874, and we’ve been here ever since,” Jost said. “We go way back to the beginning, before the town was even here.
“I think there are a lot of other young people my age who would like to come back to Hillsboro but aren’t able to because there isn’t a job that would supply them with what they need,” he continued. “I just feel blessed to be able to come back.”
So when Jared and Julia heard about Hillsboro Community Foundation’s new Impact Fund, they knew they’d found a vehicle through which to give back to the community they love.
“My wife and I talked about how neat it was that (the foundation) was started at the beginning of our careers in Hillsboro,” Jost said. “To be able to watch this money go toward whatever cause it’s going to be—it’s just going to be so much fun to watch the fruits of this.
“It’s a great way to keep good things going on in the community—a great vehicle to see things happen.”
Jost said he and his family are used to seeing things happen in Hillsboro.
“We have very, very smart (businesspeople) that are just really aggressive and very knowledgeable,” he said. “It’s going to be fun to watch the community leaders—how they’re going to take this money and make it work for the community.
“They have a great imagination—they’re great at dreaming and then making it a reality.”
Jost’s own dream has become a reality, he said, through a job and a heritage that allow him to connect with so many other members of the community.
“I think one of the greatest joys in working here is that it’s where my roots are,” he said. “To have someone pass away, and the family will come in and tell me they knew my grandparents, or they knew who my great-grandfather was or they went to college here with my aunt or uncle—it’s just fulfilling to be part of a community that my ancestry has been a part of.”
Above all, Jost said he wants to continue the legacy his ancestors—and others in the Hillsboro community—began.
“Hillsboro allows me to fulfill my dreams of being able to be a part of a strong community, to be a businessman, to be part of a good church (and) to be in a community that I believe will be a great environment to live our lives out,” he said. “I want to try and be a part of what Hillsboro’s always been about—being a good steward of what I’ve been given.”
Gratitude for Community
For John and Eileen Unruh, paying back debts is a priority principle for more than their personal finances.
It also includes the debt of gratitude they feel they owe to a community that has, to a large degree, made their livelihood possible over the past 40-plus years.
“John and I have both received a lot of material and other types of support from Hillsboro,” Eileen said. “John worked for the city for years, and I’ve been employed in Hillsboro.
“We’ve always felt that we need to give back to the community because the community has given us so much in order for us to work and play here.”
That’s why the Unruhs were pleased to hear of the formation of the Hillsboro Community Foundation and the launch of its Impact Fund almost one year ago. John and Eileen have been contributing to the community in many ways, including Lions, Hillsboro Development Corp., church, hospital and various other boards in Hillsboro.
“I think it’s significant—it’s a tax break for the individual, plus it’s something the community can use to fund projects,” Eileen said.
“What I really like about the Impact Fund is that they’re going to keep the first $250,000 and just use the interest for projects to start with. People can then give and expand above that into areas they want to give to.”
John and Eileen are both natives to the Hillsboro area. After they were married, they lived elsewhere for a time, but came back to their hometown in 1967 to help take care of their aging parents and give their infant daughter the chance to live close to her grandparents.
John took a job with the city of Hillsboro while Eileen initially took a part-time job in Newton. John put in more than 25 years with the city, with a break in the middle of his tenure to farm full time. Since his retirement from city employment, John has gone back to farming.
Eileen worked part-time for six years at what is now Great Plains Federal Credit Union in Hillsboro, then started a full-time assignment at the The Insurance Center. Some 28 years later, she continues to serve the agency as office manager and an agent.
“I feel if you make your money in a community, and it’s been good to you, you should give back,” Eileen said. “I’ve always appreciated the people who have been in business here and have done that. Some who have been in business here before—you can see what they’ve done to help support the community.
“That’s our main reason (for contributing to the Impact Fund). We feel we owe it back to the community.” Eileen said the creation of the Hillsboro Community Foundation has helped fill a local need.
“I think Hillsboro has missed getting some significant benefits from people that lived or grew up in the community and are looking for a way to give back,” she said.
“So this is a good opportunity for them.” Eileen is grateful for local leaders who did the groundwork to launch the foundation and those who continue to serve as board members.
“I really appreciate the hard work a lot of people in the community have put in to make this work,” she said. “There’s a lot hours put in that people don’t know about, and meetings too. People who are on the board now have put in a lot of time and effort to get this going.”
Unruh said people don’t have to write a big check to the Impact Fund to make a positive difference.
“I would say start out with what you’re able to give,” she said. “Any amount will help. And then you can always add to it when you’re able.”