Green Bay couple donates millions to area nonprofits

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- The Greater Green Bay Community Foundation received more than $21 million from donors to support area non-profits.

The money came from two separate donations.

Sixteen and half million came from the estate of Ron and Pauline Heim and $5 million came from an anonymous donor.

Ron passed away in 1992 and his wife Pauline passed away in 2018, but they wanted to leave behind some funds that would benefit organizations they were passionate about.

The N.E.W. Zoo is among the more than 30 organizations that will benefit from the donation.

“It couldn't have come at a better time,” said Gary Ehrbar, president of the N.E.W. Zoological Society. “We're in the process of trying to pay off a mortgage that we have on our animal hospital that we had to build, and that's going to go a long way toward doing that.”

The Heims were known for their love of nature and animals, which is why the funding from their estate will go to serving causes ranging from animal welfare, K-9 police units and the environment.

The Heim Charitable Fund is expected to provide support in excess of $800,000 each year.

“They lived very quiet, generous, humble lives here in Green Bay. Not a lot of people knew they had that kind of wealth and support organizations that were important to them quietly over the years,” said Dennis Buehler, president and CEO of the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation.

Those with the foundation say large donations like this go a long way in helping a non-profits' bottom line.

“To have something that they know they can count on each year, through a donor who is visionary and wants to see the support of these organizations to continue, that allows them the space for planning and more forward thinking opportunities,” said Amber Paluch, vice president of community engagement.

The $5 million donation is unrestricted, meaning the foundation has flexibility to address an urgent need in the community and has the ability to provide ongoing support to organizations.