Between the ages of six and eight, young Robert White began expressing to his siblings how he longed to help his family financially during hardships. He strongly believed that “if something happens, we should be able to pay for it” as it relates to the death and burial plans of loved ones. Being a part of such a large family who didn’t have much was the motivation Robert needed to later introduce this idea to his aunts Juanita and Lizzie, and Uncle Fred.
When he initially presented the idea, they believed it was an excellent idea, however they didn’t think the efforts should stop with assisting with burials. They recognized that while family should ban together during sorrowful times, they should also uplift the future by pouring into the youth of the family. They wanted to ensure that young people would not have any opposition while trying to achieve their educational endeavors. This was the foundation.
Around 1986, the initial set of paperwork was drawn to establish this dream into a reality. Robert along with his sister Nelma went back and forth with the State of Georgia to providing support that this fund was not for profit, but to pay out funds when family members needed help. The guidelines were so strict during this process, that one time they were rejected and sent back to the drawing board because a comma (,) was left out of place in the legal name.
CATO FAMILY EDUCATIONAL & BURIAL FUND, INC.
WE’RE ROLLING NOW
On July 6, 1989, the dues of the Cato Family Educational & Burial Fund, Inc. were collected during the Cato Family Reunion. During the first fiscal year, 9 individuals joined “The Fund”. During the 1990 fiscal year, the first youth members began their memberships.
Original Adult Members
Original Youth Members
To date, total enrollment has reached over 200 members. The Fund’s motto is “Once in The Fund, Always in The Fund”. This means that the fund will not kick you out if you become delinquent on your payments. They will work with you to bring you to a current status.
The fund is operated and maintained by an Executive Board comprising of representatives of each of the Cato Children. Upon incorporation, “The Fund” operated with a President/CEO, Treasurer, and Financial Secretary, however as the fund grew, and the board decided to meet regularly to establish guidelines, it was determined that the officers needed to be expanded. In 1991, the officers consisted of the following Board Members:
President & CEO: Robert White Vice President: Louise Talley
Chairman: Marron Cato Treasurer: Charles Scott
Financial Secretary: Julia Geter Secretary: Nelma Pattillo
Additional Officers: Theodis White, Rose Stokes
Youth members who pay into to Educational portion of “The Fund” will receive a $1,000 scholarship sent to their educational institution. Adult members designate beneficiaries who receive a $2,000 burial benefit to assist in the final funeral expenses of the member upon their death.
Since inception, “The Fund” has created the Plant-A-Seed campaign, which was the brainchild of Benetta White, the wife of our founder Robert White. With this initiative, individuals are able to sow into the lives of other Cato Family members by sponsoring their memberships.
Additionally, “The Fund” now accepts electronic/credit card membership payments for those individuals who wish to use that mode of payment.
“The Fund” also has also expanded it’s scope to allow payments to online universities.
For those members who have become delinquent on their payments and would like to become current, an amnesty program has been established to assist those members.
The current Executive Board consists of the following officers:
Chairman: Jimmy Young President : Nelma Henry
CFO: Elaine Norman Financial Secretary: Briana Cleveland Secretary: Amber Mitchell
Additional Officers: Rodney Brown, Lacy Gwynn, Edward Jackson, Shirley Willis, Eddie Mae Woolfolk.
The Cato Family Educational & Burial Fund, Inc. continues to thrive and will loves working on the behalf of its family.