In the Community

Giving Back: Jane & Bill Charters Help Vulnerable Citizens

We salute the late Jane and Bill Charters, a Norfolk, Virginia couple who loved each other and their community. The Charters continue to shower some of the region's most vulnerable citizens with opportunities for better lives.

Thanks to Jane's estate planning, she and Bill have provided more than $3.7 million in grants to 40 organizations in southeastern Virginia since her death in 2004. (Bill died before her 22 years earlier.)

All grant recipients are Hampton Roads nonprofits that daily help struggling citizens keep roofs over their heads and food on the table while also having access to health care and chances to improve their lives.

The Charters' work is done quietly in partnership with the Hampton Roads Community Foundation where Jane left a generous $6 million bequest to start the William A. and Jane M. Charters Fund. She wanted her field-of-interest fund to be for basic human needs such as shelter, food, medical care and clothing.

In recent years the Charters Fund of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation has helped

  • Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia provide financial and housing counseling to help get clients out of debt and on the road to stability.
  • Goodwill Industries of Central Virginia implement job training programs for 150 unemployed or under-employed people.
  • HER Shelter start a program to help domestic abuse victims immediately find a safe place to go.
  • Judeo-Christian Outreach Center implement a housing stabilization program for formerly homeless citizens.
  • Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia expand services to help citizens resolve legal issues that are barriers to housing and employment.
  • Park Place Health & Dental Center expand the hours a dentist is on duty to treat patients with dental problems and no health insurance.
  • PIN Ministry provide medical and dental care for the homeless.
  • Samaritan House, Genevieve Shelter, HER Shelter and the YWCA of South Hampton Roads collaborate to start a regional hotline that homeless citizens can call to connect with needed services.
  • Virginia Supportive Housing provide services for formerly homeless residents of the new Crescent Square apartments in Virginia Beach.
  • Volunteers of America Chesapeake hire a coordinator to find permanent housing for formerly homeless residents.

Who were the Charters? Jane was a retired federal employee who worked as an administrative assistant with the Navy and also sang professionally. Bill started work in a bank and went on to co-found Investment Corp. of Norfolk in 1927, which introduced the region to the idea of home mortgages. He went on to lead more than 20 real estate companies.

Both Jane and Bill Charters quietly and generously supported their community during their lifetimes. And, they will always continue to do that through their permanent fund at their community foundation.

(The Hampton Roads Community Foundation is a regional community foundation started in 1950 as the first community foundation in Virginia. It is among nearly 750 community foundation around the country serving specific geographic regions. It is the largest grant and scholarship provider in southeastern Virginia and manages more than 400 charitable funds created by donors from all walks of life. Over the decades it has provided more than $230 million to improve life for residents living in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, including the cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Smithfield, Suffolk and Virginia Beach. It also serves people in Isle of Wight and Southampton counties and the Eastern Shore of Virginia, including Accomack and Northampton counties. Learn more at You can click here to locate a community foundation near you.)

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