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Our founder Karen Catt’s young son, Ellis Beam, died after battling a brain tumor in 1994. The family endured what they now know are common trials for parents of cancer patients: the mounting unexpected costs of a new routine (parking and meals away from home, transportation to out-of-state facilities) and the struggle to hold jobs while attending to a sick child.

17 years after her son’s death, Karen met more and more families facing these familiar hardships. She began using the proceeds from her Mary Kay sales to give personal grants to those in need so that they might make a mortgage payment or keep the family business running.

In 2008, The Ellis Fund became an official specialty grant fund administered by Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

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The Ellis Fund is set up within the Community Foundation of the Ozarks-- they manage our funds.

This allows us to give  99% of your donation directly to the families we serve and use only 1% for administrative costs. 

Ellis Joel Beam

August 5, 1992-October 4, 1994


The deepest wish for mothers and fathers of children who die is that their child will be remembered. So I share my child with you.

Ellis was deaf, blind, and partially paralyzed on one half of his body, but the other half was clear as a bell, bright and active. 

He signed fluently, although he made up a few of his own. His favorite color was yellow. He loved being outdoors, playing in creeks, and especially feeling the wind. Somehow that eased his seizures. 

It is on my heart to share his light. Sharing memories brings me joy, and I hope a smile to you. Thank you for honoring his memory with your support of The Ellis Fund. 

- Karen Catt