Today we'll take a look at what we know about The O'Toole Foundation so far---how it came to be, conjecture about its structure and sustainability, and examine its existing track record, all in an effort to define its purpose, mission, and consider its roll in the future.
The seeds of The O'Toole Foundation were sown a film before, in Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Truth Be Told. Left "the proceeds and patent to the only thing [Harvey Schmidtz] ever invented that actually paid off," Oliver became "the owner of a company that converts perfectly good vintage vinyl records into decorative bowls and ashtrays." As Oliver identified in Home Again, it's this venture through which the Foundation established its initial funds.
Assuming Oliver retained the patent and ownership of the company left him by Harvey Schmidtz, The O'Toole Foundation appears positioned to continue accruing assets to be banked for use well into the foreseeable future.
Clearly designated in the closing moments of Home Again, we were actually introduced to The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the O'Toole Foundation in Lost Without You. Comprised of Oliver, Shane, Rita and Norman, this body wields the power to consider and allocate funds to proposals brought before the body. Treasurer, Norman is the only one designated a specific title within the organization.
Past Purchases & Contributions
The land formerly known as Shane's childhood home was the Foundation's first purchase and acquisition. And, if current market rates are any indication, it wasn't a particularly conservative one. Expressing a desire to "start small," Oliver categorizes this purchase as on par with a "school or library in Afghanistan."
*approximation based on current real estate conditions in Alexandria, VA as reported by Zillow
Eleanor's Memorial Fund - One-Time Contribution, Unknown
In Lost Without You, Dale mentioned "a thing" at the conclusion of the memorial service, which turned out to be a request for contribution to the scholarship fund established in memory of Eleanor Van Teasdale. The Board of Trustees unanimously consented to contribute an unknown amount by a show of hands.
Sandy - One-Time Purchase, ~$11,000*
Also in Lost Without You, in an interesting turn of events---and so far the only deviation from the unwritten bylaws governing allocation of Foundation funds---Norman, in his position as Treasurer, unilaterally decided to purchase Sandy on behalf of Topper. By doing so, Norman---also for the first time---used the Foundation to "extend the powers of postal discretion," in a sense, by reuniting the separated partners as an outcome of their mail investigation.
*Dogs Of War: Inside The U.S. Military's Canine Corps
All of these purchases have one thing in common---they're all single, one-time events. There is a big difference between a one-time purchase and a long-term investment, making the Foundation's latest acquisition stand out.
Kellser Family Farm & Education Center - $400,000+, Long-Term Investment
Their hopes of saving their farm seemingly dashed, and despite doing the right thing by returning their treasured vase to its rightful owner, the Kellser appeared out of options until the POstables stepped in to help.
The O'Toole Foundation's investment in the Kellser farm signals a significant departure from all of its previous undertakings. In this instance, the Foundation has "assumed all financial responsibility," with the Kellser's free to live there "'til the cows come home." This is the first long-term, ongoing commitment to any single project the Foundation has made thus far.
Where each of the Foundation's previous projects have impacted, or had the potential to impact, a single individual at a certain juncture in their lives, The Kellser Family Farm & Education Center exponentially expands its reach, and impact potential, for generations to come.
It's also interesting to note that, beginning with the purchase of Sandy in Lost Without You, The O'Toole Foundation funds have been used "to widen the powers of postal discretion." This also held in Home Again.
When Shane and Oliver were discussing how Oliver might get in touch with Mary Lou to obtain her verbal permission in lieu of her signature to return the vase, Oliver asked Shane to book him a flight, stating the following:
"If it doesn't fall under the task force budget, I will cover it with The O'Toole Foundation."
But when provenance was ultimately determined not to support the Kellser family's claim, that didn't stop the POstables from pursuing avenues to achieve what was ultimately their goal: saving the farm. Given Norman's ears perked up at mention of Rita's parents having a background in farming, it is reasonable to suggest that it was perhaps him who suggested the Living Lands Conservancy idea. Though the outcome of their mail investigation was unable to achieve the desired ends, they "widened the powers of postal discretion" by stepping in to help the Kellsers in a non-postal capacity with Foundations funds.
The O'Toole Foundation: Defined
From this, we can posit the following Mission Statement:
"Established in 2015, the O'Toole Foundation is designed to fill needs in the community, wherever that community may be. It seeks to do so by developing and funding projects its Founder believes will 'contribute to the rebuilding, restoration and betterment of the lives of the individuals and communities touched by [its] efforts.'"
Interestingly, this is the mission statement I pieced together for the A&D Christmas Gift a few years back, though it seems adequate to encompass what the Foundation has achieved thus far.
Given the broad scope of the mission statement, and its existing track record, we shouldn't be surprised to see The O'Toole Foundation take on projects ranging from one-time contributions and purchases, to long-term investments. Whether as far away as Alexandria, VA, to as close as a few counties away, geography likely won't be a restriction. More often than not, we should expect to see the Foundation step in where a regular mail investigation and its outcome might fall short of what the Foundation and its members believe to be right, and rebuild, restore and better the situation as much as is within their power.
Though only utilized on a few occasions throughout the series, The O'Toole Foundation has done just enough to discern how it works, what it does and, most importantly, its overarching mission, while also giving us a picture of what its capacity might be moving forward.