We all love a happy ending, especially one that reverberates throughout a community.
For many years, Ed Bedwell suffered from heart disease, until a life-saving heart transplant gave him his life back, and bestowed upon Nancy Bedwell many more vibrant years with her husband. The Bedwells have always supported local charities, but understandably they are particularly grateful to the American Heart Association. Because they experienced first-hand how important the services of the AHA were to patients, they have volunteered their time and expertise to the organization, as well as given generously of their financial resources. Ed served as the President of the local chapter and Nancy chaired its major fundraising activity, the annual Heart Ball.
Although the 2015 Philanthropists of the Year were not born and raised in Washington County as many previous honorees were, the Bedwells have made their home in Washington County for more than two decades, and have focused their generosity on projects which benefit the Washington County community.
“We live and do business in this community and we believe in keeping our giving local,” said Ed, whose business, Beverage Distribution Incorporated, has provided beverages and prizes for various fundraising activities, for qualified charities as well as individuals and families in need.
Nancy, a Trustee of the Hauber Foundation headquartered in Pittsburgh, works to ensure that each year Washington County charities are the recipients of some of the grants from the Foundation, which was created by her parents, William and Jean Hauber of Upper St. Clair.
Just a few of the local charities that have benefitted from the Bedwells’ generosity include the Brownson House, David Bradford House, CASA for Kids, Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Main Street Farmers Market, Salvation Army - Washington Corps, United Way of Washington County, Washington County Community Foundation, Washington City Mission, Washington County Food Bank, Washington County Historical Society, Washington County Jazz Society, Washington Hospital Foundation, Whiskey Rebellion Festival, and the Washington Rotary Club.
Ed and Nancy encourage volunteerism as a way to learn about community needs and the charities working to address those needs.
“Volunteerism is a great way to learn about charities,” said Nancy, who has volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters. She fondly reminisced about the many musical performances she and her “Little” attended over the years.
“We still stay in touch, mostly through texts, and we try to get together at least once a year,” remarked Nancy, who proudly announced that her “Little” just graduated from nursing school.
Ed was born in Chicago and graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a business degree. Various positions in the beverage industry necessitated several relocations, including one to Upper St. Clair, where he purchased a home next to Nancy’s parents.
After graduating from Ohio University with a teaching degree, Nancy taught school for five years in Ohio before returning to her parents’ home, where she met Ed. Their hearts became one and they have been married now for twenty-five years.
As successful business people, they favor charities that are well-managed. Before selecting charities to receive their support, Nancy will often research those charities through an on-line website that provides ratings of a charity’s financial health, accountability and transparency.
They are as focused in their philanthropic endeavors as they are in their business endeavors
Together, they have opened their hearts and their South Franklin farm to many stray or abused animals – dogs, cats, horses and various other critters. The farm work and the business both require a strong work ethic, and both Ed and Nancy believe that characteristic can enable people to overcome obstacles in their lives. They like to direct their charitable giving to help people who also display strong work ethics and are working hard to improve their lives.
According to Ed, “We want to help people lead better lives, not enable them to continue destructive behavior.”