Lou Hepschmidt sets example for women in philanthropy!
He heard hints about a surprise birthday party.
“I heard rumors, but nobody would talk,” she said.
Then came a Saturday-afternoon message that a package was waiting for her in the Homeland Center Ted Lick Room. That “package” turned out to be a room full of friends and relatives, wishing the Homeland resident a happy 90th birthday.
While Lou is known to friends and family for her generosity, she is also a recognized philanthropist, contributing to many central Pennsylvania causes and setting an example for women in philanthropy. Her many gifts to Homeland include her sizeable collection of Hummel figurines and plates, donated with custom-made display cases, and on display in the Gathering Room.
At her birthday party, Lou’s guests included three nieces who don’t live in the area but who visit regularly. As children, the girls would go to their aunt and uncle’s home for summertime stays.
“One day, she came home and told my uncle she had gotten a kitten, except there were two kittens in that box,” said niece Betty Hoffman with a laugh. “That’s how she got two kittens.”
No matter what, “She was always very good to us as kids, and now to our children,” Hoffman added.
For many years, Lou worked with her husband, John E. Hepschmidt, Jr., managing the finances of their tile business. Today, Lou channels her philanthropy through the HEP Foundation, which she and her husband created in 2003, before his death in 2008. She guides her beneficence to such bedrock causes as the Bethesda Mission homeless shelter, Friends of Fort Hunter and Wildwood, and public broadcasting station WITF.
In addition to Homeland, Lou is a fervent supporter of the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, the 30-county council covering central and northeastern Pennsylvania. She became interested in the Girl Scouts when her sister, Homeland resident Winnie Reese, worked for the Girl Scouts in their native Philadelphia.
For her many charitable works, Lou was recognized in 2011 as Philanthropist of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association of Fundraising Professionals, and as a Women in Philanthropy honoree by The Foundation for Enhancing Community’s Women’s Fund.
Lou’s positive impact on Homeland Center reaches into every corner. Visitors see her family’s impressive Hummel collection in the floor-to-ceiling custom cherry wood cabinets that were originally in her home and that she donated as well.
Outside, Lou donated the funds to create a beautiful butterfly pond in Homeland’s garden in honor of her late husband, John Hepschmidt. Through generous contributions from HEP Foundation, she makes it possible for Homeland to continue offering benevolent care and never asking anyone to leave because they have exhausted their resources.
A past member of Homeland’s Board of Managers, Lou was among the first to become a charter member of the 1867 Society of Homeland, created and tasked with raising $20 million by 2020 to support the $3 million in benevolent care Homeland provides annually.
“Other places did not have the same ambience and décor that Homeland has, and the same treatment of the residents,” Lou said of why she donated her Hummel collection and supports Homeland. “I am so pleased with the way they treat everybody here. I know I’m treated royally.’’